The current articles is following up the first stage a typical civil lawsuit goes through. Assuming the plaintiff has won the case and the court has awarded him with full refund (+ penalty and legal expenses recovery), the plaintiff is waiting the lost party to pay. It is common in Bulgaria that debtors don't pay willingly. Therefore the creditor need to enforce the court resolution.
Law Enforcement Agent
The law enforcement agents are the only state authorized persons who can enforce court resolution in Bulgaria. Generally the enforcement agents are private ones and state ones. Private enforcement agents have their Private Enforcement Agents Chambers, which is also their regulatory body. Private agents are more capable due to the monetary stimulation of debt recovery - they charge both flat fees for initiating the enforcement case and percentage based fees upon collection of funds.
The law enforcement process begins by filing the original of the execution order issued in the lawsuit the plaintiff have won. The execution order (or writ) is submitted to the office of an law enforcement agent along with application and any other written proofs of assets, the debtor might have. The application need to contain also enforcement method. If the creditor is not aware of debtor's assets, the enforcement agent can make a detailed research of debtor. This includes - properties, vehicles, bank accounts etc.
Debt recovery methods
The major debt recovery methods are:
- Seizure of bank accounts
- Seizure of property and putting it on a public tender
- Seizure of vehicles and putting them on public tender
Generally the law enforcement agent leads the creditor through the proceedings, but it is preferable the creditor to engage a lawyer(solicitor) who will push the proceedings. The successful enforcement agents are buried with cases and they often neglect single creditors. The agents give preference to banks and insurance companies which bring thousands of Euros in fees into agent's accounts. Therefore it is good to have a lawyer who will push the agent to go through the proceedings on time and not to delay.
Timeline of enforcement proceedings
The time line of the debt recovery process depends on whether the debtor has assets and how easy they can be discovered. The discovery process lasts about 2 months (especially information about bank accounts) due to the fact that the process is conducted through written correspondence (regular mail). There are 42 banks and foreign banks branches, so if the agent sends letters to each bank, the responding and processing of the correspondence will take time.
Distressed properties in Bulgaria
As a separate service, the properties that are put on public tender by the private enforcement agents are listed in centralized database of the Chambers of Private Law Enforcement Agents. All properties that are put on public tender can be browsed and sorted by different criteria such as location, initial bid price etc. This is an excellent service for property agents and investors.