Ship arrest in Bulgaria: Varna and Burgas Black Sea ports

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The ship arrests in Bulgaria can be executed in one of the two Bulgarian Black Sea ports - Varna and Burgas. The legal regime of the ship arrest is described in the following statutory regulations, effective in Bulgaria:

Executing a commercial ship arrest in a Bulgarian sea port

Pursuant to the International convention, the ship arrest in Bulgarian sea port can be executed against a commercial ship only, regardless the flag under which it is registered under. A ship arrest cannot be executed against a government owned ship or non-commercial ship.

The ship arrest procedure can be done both as a preliminary security for a non-filed maritime claim or as a security measure for entered into force court decision. The latter case has its specifics, relating to whether Bulgaria has bilateral treaty for mutual recognition of legal acts. Each case should be assessed separately.

With regard to the first case, mentioned above, the ship arrest can be executed as a lien or injunction, which will secure the maritime claim against the ship owner or any third party who operates the ship.

Starting the procedure for ship arrest

The ship arrest procedure starts with an application to the local District Court, where the ship is currently located. For Bulgaria these are Varna Regional Court and Burgas Regional Court. The application should be legally grounded and should enclose all the documents, proving that the ship arrest will be justified. Sometimes the District judge will require a payment of refundable deposit, which will be returned upon successful maritime claim.

The ship arrest court order will be issued within 3 days as of application submission. The execution of the ship arrest order is done by the captain of the port, where the ship is located.

Filing the maritime claim

The ship arrest is just security for the maritime claim. Following the common rules of the Civil Proceedings Code, the judge will give the claimant 30 days after the ship arrest order is issued, to file its maritime claim. The Merchant Shipping Code allows the Bulgarian court to hear any maritime claims for which a ship arrest order has been issued. In case there is an arbitration clause between the parties, the court is bound to it and the case can be heard in the agreed arbitration jurisdiction.

As a qualified transport lawyers and members of Sofia Bar, we do provide representation before Bulgarian courts, including application for ship arrest and legal defense against ship arrests. Contact us to get a quote for your case.

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