• Search

Commercial Arbitration

Last verified on

Bulgaria

Lazar Tomov and Sylvia Steeva
Tomov & Tomov

    Infrastructure

  1. 1.The New York Convention
    Is your state a party to the New York Convention? Are there any noteworthy declarations or reservations?
    1. The Republic of Bulgaria has been a party to the New York Convention since 8 January 1962. It has made a reciprocity declaration under article 1.

  2. 2.Other treaties
    Is your state a party to any other bilateral or multilateral treaties regarding the recognition and enforcement of arbitral awards?
    1. Bulgaria is a party to the European Convention on International Commercial Arbitration, the ICSID Convention and some bilateral treaties on legal assistance, which contain scattered obsolete provisions related to arbitration of very minor importance.

  3. 3.National law
    Is there an arbitration act or equivalent and, if so, is it based on the UNCITRAL Model Law? Does it apply to all arbitral proceedings with their seat in your jurisdiction?
    1. Both domestic and international arbitrations having a seat in Bulgaria are governed by the International Commercial Arbitration Act of 1988 (the ICAA). It is based on the 1985 UNCITRAL Model Law with minor differences in regard to the definition of international arbitration and appeals against an arbitral tribunal’s preliminary decision on jurisdiction.

  4. 4.Arbitration bodies in your jurisdiction
    What arbitration bodies relevant to international arbitration are based within your jurisdiction? Do such bodies also act as appointing authorities?
    1. The oldest and most prominent arbitration institution is the Arbitration Court of the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (the BCCI). The chairperson of the Arbitration Court acts as appointing authority in arbitration proceedings under its Arbitration Rules or if the parties have so agreed.

  5. 5.Foreign institutions
    Can foreign arbitral providers operate in your jurisdiction?
    1. There is no legal obstacle for foreign arbitral providers to operate in Bulgaria.

  6. 6.Courts
    Is there a specialist arbitration court? Is the judiciary in your jurisdiction generally familiar with the law and practice of international arbitration?
    1. There is no specialist arbitration court. Nevertheless, most arbitration-related issues (challenge of arbitrators, recognition and enforcement of awards, writs of execution) are within the competence of the Sofia City Court. Applications for setting aside arbitral awards are dealt in single-instance proceedings by the Supreme Cassation Court. Court assistance in the taking of evidence is within the competence of the municipal courts. In general, the judges of the Sofia City Court and of the Supreme Cassation Court are familiar with the international arbitration practice.

    Agreement to arbitrate

  7. 7.Formalities
    What, if any, requirements must be met if an arbitration agreement is to be valid and enforceable under the law of your jurisdiction? Can an arbitration agreement cover future disputes?
    1. Enforceable arbitration agreements must be in writing (article 7(2) of the ICAA, Rule 2(2) of the BCCI Arbitration Rules). This requirement is complied with when the agreement is contained in a document signed by both parties, in an exchange of letters, faxes, telegrams, or other means of telecommunication, or in general terms and conditions to which the parties have referred. However, arbitration agreements in consumer contracts must be individually negotiated. This condition is not met when there is a mere reference to general terms and conditions. Any non-compliance with the formal requirements is resolved if, during the arbitral proceedings, the party entitled to an objection in regard to formal validity of the arbitration agreement does not raise one.

      An arbitration agreement may cover future disputes provided that they pertain to a legal relationship that is identified in the agreement.

  8. 8.Arbitrability
    Are any types of dispute non-arbitrable? If so, which?
    1. Any private law disputes involving economic interest and relating to rights that the parties are free to dispose of are arbitrable, except disputes concerning property rights and possession of real estate, alimony and child support, and individual employment relationships (article 19 of the Civil Procedure Code). Private law disputes where one of the parties is a state or a state organ are also arbitrable.

  9. 9.Third parties
    Can a third party be bound by an arbitration clause and, if so, in what circumstances? Can third parties participate in the arbitration process through joinder or a third-party notice?
    1. Generally, an arbitration agreement is binding only on the parties to it. It is extended to non-signatories such as successors in the case of full succession and receivers in bankruptcy for the agreements entered into by the deceased or the bankrupt debtor. It is also extended to all partners in unlimited partnerships and to general partners in limited partnerships. A principal is bound by an arbitration agreement entered into by its agent, provided that the latter acts within the scope of its authority. An agent is not bound by the arbitration clause contained in the contract between its principal and a third party. Guarantors are not bound by the arbitration agreement contained in the contract between the creditor and the debtor whose debt the guarantor guarantees. In the case of assignment, the case law is somewhat contradictory, but the prevailing view is that the arbitration clause is transferred and binds the assignee and the debtor.

      The ICAA does not contain any provisions in regard to third-party participation in arbitration proceedings. Pursuant to Rule 33 of the BCCI Arbitration Rules, a third party may intervene in or be joined to arbitration proceedings only on the basis of the written consent of all parties concerned. The consent may be expressed in advance, in the arbitration clause, or it may be reached before the arbitral tribunal. The request to join a party must be filed within the deadline for reply to the statement of claim.

  10. 10.Consolidation
    Would an arbitral tribunal with its seat in your jurisdiction be able to consolidate separate arbitral proceedings under one or more contracts and, if so, in what circumstances?
    1. Neither ICAA nor the BCCI Arbitration Rules contain any provisions on consolidation of proceedings. This suggests that arbitration proceedings can be consolidated only if the parties so agree.

  11. 11.

    Groups of companies
    Is the 'group of companies doctrine' (or any other basis for piercing the corporate veil) recognised in your jurisdiction?

    1. Bulgarian law does not recognise the “group of companies doctrine”.

  12. 12.Separability
    Are arbitration clauses considered separable from the main contract?
    1. The doctrine of separability is recognised (article 19(2) of the ICAA, Rule 26(2) of the BCCI Arbitration Rules). Accordingly, nullity, avoidance, rescission or termination of the underlying contract has no effect on the validity of the arbitration agreement.

  13. 13.Competence-competence
    Is the principle of competence-competence recognised in your jurisdiction? Can a party to an arbitration ask the courts to determine an issue relating to the tribunal’s jurisdiction and competence?
    1. Arbitral tribunals have the power to decide on their competence. A jurisdictional objection could be raised at the latest by the answer to the statement of claim or, exceptionally, later, if the delay is excusable (articles 19(1) and 20 of the ICAA and rule 26 of the BCCI Arbitration Rules). An arbitral tribunal rules on its jurisdiction in a preliminary decision or in the final award. The preliminary decision on jurisdiction is not subject to appeal.

      Arbitration tribunals may start proceedings, continue them, and render an award, even if the same dispute is pending before a domestic or a foreign court (article 8(2) ICAA).

  14. 14.Drafting
    Are there particular issues to note when drafting an arbitration clause where your jurisdiction will be the seat of arbitration or the place where enforcement of an award will be sought?
    1. There are no particular issues to note. Nevertheless, the parties are well advised to check which issues are not clearly settled under the case law and to include a specific provision on the respective issues.

  15. 15.Institutional arbitration
    Is institutional international arbitration more or less common than ad hoc international arbitration? Are the UNCITRAL Rules commonly used in ad hoc international arbitrations in your jurisdiction?
    1. Institutional arbitration is more common than ad hoc arbitration. UNICITRAL Rules are commonly used in ad hoc arbitrations.

  16. 16.Multi-party agreements
    What, if any, are the particular points to note when drafting a multi-party arbitration agreement with your jurisdiction in mind? In relation to, for example, the appointment of arbitrators.
    1. The ICAA is silent on multiparty arbitration agreements. However, they are recognised by Rule 14(5) of the BCCI Arbitration Rules. It provides that all parties on each side have to appoint one arbitrator by common consent, and that in case they fail to do so, the chairperson of the Arbitration Court will make the appointment.

    Commencing the arbitration

  17. 17.Request for arbitration
    How are arbitral proceedings commenced in your jurisdiction? Are there any key provisions under the arbitration laws of your jurisdiction relating to limitation periods of which the parties should be aware?
    1. The ICAA provides that arbitration proceedings are initiated by a notice of arbitration without specifying any particular requirements for it (article 23 of the ICAA). However, it is accepted that the notice should state an intention to start arbitration, the facts on which the claim is based, the relief sought and a nomination of an arbitrator.

      Arbitration proceedings under the BCCI Arbitration Rules are initiated by a statement of claim. The statement of claim should state the names and addresses of parties, the amount in dispute, the facts on which the claim is based, the relief sought and a nomination of an arbitrator. It shall be signed, accompanied by a copy of the arbitration agreement, written evidence supporting the claim, certificates of good standing of the parties and a receipt for payment of the administrative fees and charges. It shall be submitted in a number of copies sufficient for each respondent and for the tribunal (rules 4 and 5 of the BCCI Arbitration Rules).

      The ICAA does not contain provisions on limitation periods related to commencement of arbitration proceedings.

    Choice of law

  18. 18.Choice of law
    How is the substantive law of the dispute determined? Where the substantive law is unclear, how will a tribunal determine what it should be?
    1. In international arbitration, the arbitral tribunal shall decide the merits of the dispute in accordance with the law chosen by the parties. Choice of law clauses will be interpreted as referring only to the substantive law of a state and not to its conflict of laws rules unless the parties have agreed otherwise (article 38(1) of the ICAA, rule 36(1) of the BCCI Arbitration Rules). There is no requirement that the law chosen by the parties must have a connection with the parties or the contract in dispute. If the parties did not choose the applicable substantive law, the tribunal applies the law determined on the basis of conflict of laws rules it finds applicable (article 38 (2) of the ICAA). In any event, the tribunal shall apply the provisions of the contract and trade usage (article 38(3) of the ICAA, Rule 36(3) of the BCCI Arbitration Rules). Two further points must be noted in regard to the choice of law. First, the ICAA and the BCCI Rules use the Bulgarian term zakon, which means any normative act of a sovereign state. Therefore, parties may chose and an arbitral tribunal may apply a-national rules of law, like UNIDROIT Principles of International Commercial Contracts or Lex Mercatoria, only if (i) they are incorporated in the contract by reference or are considered a part of the trade usage, and (ii) they do not contradict mandatory rules. Second, following the accession of Bulgaria to the EU, the rules of Regulation (EC) No 593/2008 (Rome I Regulation” (replacing the Rome Convention on the Law Applicable to Contractual Obligations) are considered by Bulgarian arbitrators as the common European understanding of conflict of laws methodol­ogy. This means that the applicable law is the law of the county most closely connected with the contract. In most cases this is the law of the country of habitual residence of the party owing the non-monetary obligation.

    Appointing the tribunal

  19. 19.Choice of arbitrators
    Does the law of your jurisdiction place any limitations in respect of a party’s choice of arbitrator?
    1. The ICCA has no restrictions in regard to international arbitrations. However, arbitrators must meet the requirements set by the parties, if any, and must be impartial and independent.

  20. 20.Foreign arbitrators
    Can non-nationals act as arbitrators where the seat is in your jurisdiction or hearings are held there? Is this subject to any immigration or other requirements?
    1. A non-national may act as an arbitrator only in international arbitrations. Visa requirement may apply except for citizens of the European Union, Switzerland, the US, Canada, Australia and most Latin American states. Arbitrators’ fees also may be subject to taxation under certain circumstances.

  21. 21.Default appointment of arbitrators
    How are arbitrators appointed where no nomination is made by a party or parties or the selection mechanism fails for any reason? Do the courts have any role to play?
    1. If a party fails to appoint an arbitrator, or if the parties (or the arbitrators) fail to appoint the presiding arbitrator, the appointing authority is the chairperson of the BCCI under the ICCA and the chairperson of the Arbitration Court under the BCCI Arbitration Rules (article 12(1) of the ICAA, rules 14 and 15 of the BCCI Arbitration Rules).

  22. 22.Immunity
    Are arbitrators afforded immunity from suit under the law of your jurisdiction and, if so, in what terms?
    1. There are no specific provisions regarding immunity or liability of arbitrators. It is accepted that a service contract exists between each party and each arbitrator, and general rules on contractual liability apply to arbitrators. However, according to some authors, there is an implied term that arbitrators are liable only for gross negligence or intentional wrongs.

  23. 23.Securing payment of fees
    Can arbitrators secure payment of their fees in your jurisdiction? Are there fundholding services provided by relevant institutions?
    1. In ad hoc arbitrations the arbitral tribunal usually request that the parties make advance payments for the fees of the arbitrators and costs of the proceedings. That money is kept in a separate bank account. Final accounting is made at the end of the proceedings. In institutional arbitrations fees and costs are prepaid to and held by the arbitral institution.

    Challenges to arbitrators

  24. 24.Grounds of challenge
    On what grounds may a party challenge an arbitrator? How are challenges dealt with in the courts or (as applicable) the main arbitration institutions in your jurisdiction? Will the IBA Guidelines on Conflicts of Interest in International Arbitration generally be taken into account?
    1. An arbitrator may be challenged (i) if circumstances exist that give rise to reasonable doubts as to his or her impartiality or independence, or (ii) if the arbitrator does not have the qualifications agreed by the parties (article 14(1) of the ICAA). An arbitrator cannot be challenged by the party that appointed him or her unless that party became aware of the ground for the challenge after the appointment.

      The parties may agree on the challenge procedure. Failing such agreement, a party may challenge an arbitrator by a written reasoned statement of challenge within 14 days of becoming aware of the constitution of the arbitral tribunal or of the grounds for the challenge (article 15 ICAA). Unless the challenged arbitrator withdraws, or the other party agrees with the challenge, it is decided upon by the arbitral tribunal itself. If such challenge is not successful, the challenging party may, within seven days of receiving a notice of the decision, request the Sofia City Court to rule on the challenge.

      Under the BCCI Arbitration Rules the procedure is essentially the same with the exception that an arbitrator cannot be challenged after the tribunal declares that the case is closed and that it will render an award.

      The IBA Guidelines on Conflicts of Interest are not binding but they are gaining increasing influence.

    Interim relief

  25. 25.

    Types of relief
    What main types of interim relief are available in respect of international arbitration and from whom (the tribunal or the courts)? Are anti-suit injunctions available where proceedings are brought elsewhere in breach of an arbitration agreement?

    1. Unless otherwise agreed by the parties, the arbitral tribunal may, at the request of any party, order the other party to take appropriate measures to preserve the applicant’s rights (article 21 of the ICAA and article 28 of the BCCI Arbitration Rules). The provisions give arbitrators a wide discretion to grant measures directed at preservation of evidence, preservation of status quo, or facilitation of the enforcement of the award. An interim award related to such measures may be enforced through the court system.

      In addition, each party may request the court to grant interim measures to secure the claim or evidence (article 9 of the ICAA).

      Bulgarian law does not recognise anti-suit injunctions and, accordingly, Bulgarian tribunals and courts do not grant them.

  26. 26.Security for costs
    Does the law of your jurisdiction allow a court or tribunal to order a party to provide security for costs?
    1. Security for costs is considered by the case-law as an interim measure, and therefore can be ordered both by the arbitral tribunal and the courts. In practice they are granted quite rarely.

    Procedure

  27. 27.

    Procedural rules
    Are there any mandatory rules in your jurisdiction that govern the conduct of the arbitration (eg, general duties of the tribunal and/or the parties)?

    1. The only mandatory provisions are that the parties shall be treated equally, that each party shall be given a full opportunity to present its case, and that a party has a right to request that the Sofia City Court rule on its challenge of an arbitrator (article 22 of the ICAA).

  28. 28.Refusal to participate
    What is the applicable law (and prevailing practice) where a respondent fails to participate in an arbitration?
    1. Arbitration proceedings may continue and the tribunal may render an award even if a respondent fails to participate provided that it has been properly notified about the proceedings and it has been given an opportunity to present its case. The lack of proper notification is a ground for setting aside the arbitral award rendered under article 47 (4) of the ICAA and a ground to refuse recognition and enforcement under article V(1)(b) of the New York Convention.

  29. 29.Admissible evidence
    What types of evidence are usually admitted, and how is evidence usually taken? Will the IBA Rules on the Taking of Evidence in International Commercial Arbitration generally be taken into account?
    1. Witnesses, documents, experts, and inspections are admissible and commonly used. Both Bulgarian arbitrators and parties have preference for documents over witness statements, tribunal-appointed experts over party-appointed experts and oral testimonials over written declarations.

      In accordance with the civil law tradition, witnesses are examined by the tribunal and, with its permission, the parties may pose additional questions. The IBA Rules on the Taking of Evidence are starting to be used as guidance.

  30. 30.Court assistance
    Will the courts in your jurisdiction play any role in the obtaining of evidence?
    1. The arbitral tribunal or any of the parties, with the approval of the tribunal, may request the competent municipal court to assist in collecting of evidence (article 37 of the ICAA, Rule 31 of the BCCI Arbitration Rules).

  31. 31.Document production
    What is the relevant law and prevailing practice relating to document production in international arbitration in your jurisdiction?
    1. Article 36 of the ICAA and Rule 30 (1) of the BCCI Arbitration Rules provide that the tribunal may order a party to produce documents. If the party fails to do so the tribunal may draw adverse inference (Rule 29 (1) of the BCCI Arbitration Rules).

      When the requested document is within the possession of a third party, the interested party with the permission of the tribunal may request the municipal court for assistance. The municipal court may order the third party to produce the document under Article 192 of the Civil Procedure Code.

      Both Bulgarian arbitrators and parties have preference for requests for particular document(s) over US-style broad document production. Further light on this issue may be shed by the IBA Rules on the Taking Evidence.

  32. 32.Hearings
    Is it mandatory to have a final hearing on the merits?
    1. A final hearing on the merits is not mandatory if the parties so agree. However, despite such an agreement, the arbitral tribunal may schedule a hearing if it finds it necessary for the proper adjudication of the dispute (article 30 of the ICAA, rule 24(3) of the BCCI Arbitration Rules).

  33. 33.Seat or place of arbitration
    If your jurisdiction is selected as the seat of arbitration, may hearings and procedural meetings be conducted elsewhere?
    1. Hearing and procedural meetings may be held anywhere in and outside Bulgaria by agreement of the parties. If the parties fail to agree, the tribunal may order hearings to be held at a specific place taking into account facts of the case and the convenience of the parties (Article 25 of the ICAA)

    Award

  34. 34.Majority decisions
    Can the tribunal decide by majority?
    1. Unless otherwise agreed by the parties, the award of the arbitral tribunal is rendered by a majority of all its members or, if a majority could not be reached, by the presiding arbitrator (article 39 of the ICAA, rule 38(2) of the BCCI Arbitration Rules).

  35. 35.Limitations to awards and relief
    Are there any particular types of remedies or relief that an arbitral tribunal may not grant?
    1. The types of remedies and relief that could be awarded by an arbitral tribunal depend on the applicable substantive law. Where the Bulgarian substantive law is applicable, a tribunal may grant declaratory awards, specific performance and damages except for punitive damages.

  36. 36.Dissenting arbitrators
    Are dissenting opinions permitted under the law of your jurisdiction? If so, are they common in practice?
    1. Although the ICCA does not contain specific provisions in this regard, it is generally accepted that dissenting opinions are permitted. Rule 38(5) of the BBCI Arbitration Rules provides that a dissenting arbitrator must sign the award and note that he is dissenting. If the dissenting arbitrator fails to submit his or her opinion in writing within seven days, he or she is deemed to have withdrawn it.

  37. 37.Formalities
    What, if any, are the legal and formal requirements for a valid and enforceable award?
    1. Valid arbitral awards must be made in writing, signed by the arbitrators and state the place and the date of arbitration. The award may be signed only by the majority arbitrators provided that they explain the reason for the missing signature(s). Unless the parties have otherwise agreed, or the award is on agreed terms, it must also state the reasons for the decision (article 41 of the ICCA).

  38. 38.Time frames
    What time limits, if any, should parties be aware of in respect of an award? In particular, do any time limits govern the interpretation and correction of an award?
    1. An application to correct or interpret an award may be made within 60 days of serving the award on the applicant, unless the parties have agreed another time limit. A tribunal may correct its award on its own within 60 days of rendering the award.

      An award may be challenged in set aside proceedings within 3 months of serving the award on the applicant. If the award has been interpreted, corrected or supplemented this lime limit commences the date the tribunal rendered its decision on this issue.

    Costs and interest

  39. 39.

    Costs
    Are parties able to recover fees paid and costs incurred? Does the 'loser pays' rule generally apply in your jurisdiction?

    1. Although the ICAA does not have a specific provision on allocation of costs, the “loser pays” rule is generally applied, unless agreed otherwise by the parties.

      The BCCI Arbitration Rules provide that the prevailing party shall recover administrative fees, arbitrators’ fees, attorneys’ fees, and other expenses related to the proceedings, if they are reasonable and supported by sufficient proof. Otherwise, the party will be awarded only the minimal attorneys’ fees set by the Bulgarian Bar Council.

  40. 40.Interest on the award
    Can interest be included on the principal claim and costs? Is there any mandatory or customary rate?
    1. Interest on claims depends on the applicable substantive law. Where Bulgarian law is applicable, arbitrators apply statutory interest at a rate set by a decree of the Council of Ministers. Interest has to be explicitly requested. Usually, interest on costs is not awarded.

    Challenging awards

  41. 41.Grounds for appeal
    Are there any grounds on which an award may be appealed before the courts of your jurisdiction?
    1. An arbitral award cannot be appealed before a court.

  42. 42.Other grounds for challenge
    Are there any other bases on which an award may be challenged, and if so what?
    1. An award can be challenged in set-aside proceedings. The grounds on which an arbitral award could be set aside are set forth in article 47 of the ICAA. They are:

      • a party was under some incapacity at the time of entering the arbitration agreement;
      • the arbitration agreement was not entered into in accordance with or is not valid under the law to which the parties have subjected it or, failing agreement by the parties, under the ICCA;
      • the subject of the dispute is not capable of settlement by arbitration or the award is in conflict with the public policy of the Republic of Bulgaria;
      • the party making the application was not given proper notice of the appointment of an arbitrator or of the arbitral proceedings, or was unable to take part in the proceedings because of reasons not attributable to it;
      • the award deals with a dispute not contemplated by or not falling within the terms of the submission to arbitration, or contains decisions on matters beyond the scope of the submission to arbitration; or
      • the composition of the arbitral tribunal or the arbitral procedure was not in accordance with the agreement of the parties, unless such agreement was in conflict with a provision of the ICAA from which the parties cannot derogate, or, failing such agreement, was not in accordance with the ICAA.

      The formulation of the grounds in article 47 of the ICAA is slightly different than the one used in the UNCITRAL Model Law. This difference is of no practical significance because the former are interpreted and applied in accordance with the later. Only the Supreme Cassation Court has jurisdiction to set aside an award.

  43. 43.Modifying an award
    Is it open to the parties to exclude by agreement any right of appeal or other recourse that the law of your jurisdiction may provide?
    1. A court has never adjudicated on the question of whether a party may modify or waive its right to apply for setting aside or to resist recognition of an award. Although such clauses are often met, their legal status is unsettled.

    Enforcement in your jurisdiction

  44. 44.Enforcement of set-aside awards
    Will an award that has been set aside by the courts in the seat of arbitration be enforced in your jurisdiction?
    1. So far, there has been no attempt to enforce in Bulgaria an award which has been set aside in the country of the seat of the arbitration. Nevertheless, the following may be noted. Bulgaria does not have more favourable domestic law which could be applied under article VII of the New York Convention. The most authoratitive treatises and the courts do not interpret the word “may” used in the Bulgarian text of the New York Convention as giving the courts a residual discretion to enforce an award when one of the grounds for non-enforcement exists. The only case when an award set aside in the country of the seat of arbitration could be enforced is where the parties to the award are from states that are signatories to both the New York Convention and European Convention. Pursuant to article VII of the New York Convention, the applicant may rely on more favourable international convention. The European Convention permits enforcement of awards set aside in the country of the seat of arbitration provided that it was not done on one of the grounds in article IX of the same convention.

  45. 45.Trends
    What trends, if any, are suggested by recent enforcement decisions? What is the prevailing approach of the courts in this regard?
    1. The enforcement decisions suggest that Bulgarian courts recognise and enforce foreign arbitration awards and apply the New York Convention in a manner which is consistent with its letter and its pro-enforcement spirit.

  46. 46.State immunity
    To what extent might a state or state entity successfully raise a defence of state or sovereign immunity at the enforcement stage?
    1. Pursuant to article 18 of the Bulgarian Civil Procedure Code a foreign state enjoys a court immunity except where it has waived its immunity; the claim is based on contract when the performance of the obligation is in Bulgaria; the claim is based on tort when the wrongdoing was committed in Bulgaria; the claim is for inheritance in Bulgaria; or the case falls within the exclusive jurisdiction of Bulgarian courts. Pursuant to articles 12 (1), 13 (2) and 19 of the Code of International Private Law the jurisdiction of the Bulgarian courts is exclusive in matters related to rights connected with moveable and immoveable property situated in the country, industrial property when the patent is issued or registered in the country, and existence and internal matters of a legal person registered in the country.

      Article 18 also impliedly covers immunity from proceedings for coercive enforcement because they start on the basis of writs of execution issued in special court proceedings.

      An arbitration clause which does not mention the issue of immunity is considered a waiver of state immunity in regard to arbitration proceedings and exequatur proceedings (proceedings for recognition and enforcement) but not for proceedings for coercive enforcement. For the latter a specific waiver is necessary.

    Further considerations

  47. 47.Confidentiality
    To what extent are arbitral proceedings in your jurisdiction confidential?
    1. The ICAA is silent on the issue of confidentiality. Rule 24(5) of the BCCI Arbitration Rules provides that the proceedings before it are confidential and documents related to the cases are provided only to the parties. Article 8 of the Ethical Rules for Arbitrators provide that arbitrators should not disclose trade secrets of the parties, information which they have acquired in relation with the proceedings and the deliberations of the tribunal on any issue.

      In addition to these rule, some authors contend that arbitration clauses contain an implied confidentiality obligation. Since a court has never ruled on this issue, parties insisting on confidentially are well advised to include in their arbitration agreement an explicit confidentiality obligation.

  48. 48.Evidence and pleadings
    What is the position relating to evidence produced and pleadings filed in the arbitration? Are these confidential? Is there any way that they might be relied on in other proceedings (whether arbitral or court proceedings)?
    1. The prevailing view is that evidence and pleadings filed in arbitration could be relied upon in other proceedings if there is no specific term in the arbitration agreement which bars this.

  49. 49.Ethical codes
    What ethical codes and other professional standards, if any, apply to counsel and arbitrators conducting proceedings in your jurisdiction?
    1. Arbitrators sitting in arbitrations under the auspices of BCCI observe the Ethical Rules for Arbitrators of the Arbitration Court of the BCCI. The Ethical Code of Attorneys-at-law of Supreme Bar Council applies only to its members and does not extend to other lawyers.

  50. 50.Procedural expectations
    Are there any particular procedural expectations or assumptions of which counsel or arbitrators participating in an international arbitration with its seat in your jurisdiction should be aware?
    1. In general, Bulgarian parties and arbitrators may be expected to follow the civil law tradition of litigation.

Interested in contributing to this Know-how?

E-mail our Co-Publishing Manager


GAR know-how provides reliable cross-jurisdictional insight to help cement the building blocks of international practice. In this section, select experienced practitioners answer commonly asked questions for key jurisdictions so allowing readers to be better-placed to solve the challenges of their working days.

Questions

    Infrastructure

  1. 1.The New York Convention
    Is your state a party to the New York Convention? Are there any noteworthy declarations or reservations?
  2. 2.Other treaties
    Is your state a party to any other bilateral or multilateral treaties regarding the recognition and enforcement of arbitral awards?
  3. 3.National law
    Is there an arbitration act or equivalent and, if so, is it based on the UNCITRAL Model Law? Does it apply to all arbitral proceedings with their seat in your jurisdiction?
  4. 4.Arbitration bodies in your jurisdiction
    What arbitration bodies relevant to international arbitration are based within your jurisdiction? Do such bodies also act as appointing authorities?
  5. 5.Foreign institutions
    Can foreign arbitral providers operate in your jurisdiction?
  6. 6.Courts
    Is there a specialist arbitration court? Is the judiciary in your jurisdiction generally familiar with the law and practice of international arbitration?
  7. Agreement to arbitrate

  8. 7.Formalities
    What, if any, requirements must be met if an arbitration agreement is to be valid and enforceable under the law of your jurisdiction? Can an arbitration agreement cover future disputes?
  9. 8.Arbitrability
    Are any types of dispute non-arbitrable? If so, which?
  10. 9.Third parties
    Can a third party be bound by an arbitration clause and, if so, in what circumstances? Can third parties participate in the arbitration process through joinder or a third-party notice?
  11. 10.Consolidation
    Would an arbitral tribunal with its seat in your jurisdiction be able to consolidate separate arbitral proceedings under one or more contracts and, if so, in what circumstances?
  12. 11.

    Groups of companies
    Is the 'group of companies doctrine' (or any other basis for piercing the corporate veil) recognised in your jurisdiction?


  13. 12.Separability
    Are arbitration clauses considered separable from the main contract?
  14. 13.Competence-competence
    Is the principle of competence-competence recognised in your jurisdiction? Can a party to an arbitration ask the courts to determine an issue relating to the tribunal’s jurisdiction and competence?
  15. 14.Drafting
    Are there particular issues to note when drafting an arbitration clause where your jurisdiction will be the seat of arbitration or the place where enforcement of an award will be sought?
  16. 15.Institutional arbitration
    Is institutional international arbitration more or less common than ad hoc international arbitration? Are the UNCITRAL Rules commonly used in ad hoc international arbitrations in your jurisdiction?
  17. 16.Multi-party agreements
    What, if any, are the particular points to note when drafting a multi-party arbitration agreement with your jurisdiction in mind? In relation to, for example, the appointment of arbitrators.
  18. Commencing the arbitration

  19. 17.Request for arbitration
    How are arbitral proceedings commenced in your jurisdiction? Are there any key provisions under the arbitration laws of your jurisdiction relating to limitation periods of which the parties should be aware?
  20. Choice of law

  21. 18.Choice of law
    How is the substantive law of the dispute determined? Where the substantive law is unclear, how will a tribunal determine what it should be?
  22. Appointing the tribunal

  23. 19.Choice of arbitrators
    Does the law of your jurisdiction place any limitations in respect of a party’s choice of arbitrator?
  24. 20.Foreign arbitrators
    Can non-nationals act as arbitrators where the seat is in your jurisdiction or hearings are held there? Is this subject to any immigration or other requirements?
  25. 21.Default appointment of arbitrators
    How are arbitrators appointed where no nomination is made by a party or parties or the selection mechanism fails for any reason? Do the courts have any role to play?
  26. 22.Immunity
    Are arbitrators afforded immunity from suit under the law of your jurisdiction and, if so, in what terms?
  27. 23.Securing payment of fees
    Can arbitrators secure payment of their fees in your jurisdiction? Are there fundholding services provided by relevant institutions?
  28. Challenges to arbitrators

  29. 24.Grounds of challenge
    On what grounds may a party challenge an arbitrator? How are challenges dealt with in the courts or (as applicable) the main arbitration institutions in your jurisdiction? Will the IBA Guidelines on Conflicts of Interest in International Arbitration generally be taken into account?
  30. Interim relief

  31. 25.

    Types of relief
    What main types of interim relief are available in respect of international arbitration and from whom (the tribunal or the courts)? Are anti-suit injunctions available where proceedings are brought elsewhere in breach of an arbitration agreement?


  32. 26.Security for costs
    Does the law of your jurisdiction allow a court or tribunal to order a party to provide security for costs?
  33. Procedure

  34. 27.

    Procedural rules
    Are there any mandatory rules in your jurisdiction that govern the conduct of the arbitration (eg, general duties of the tribunal and/or the parties)?


  35. 28.Refusal to participate
    What is the applicable law (and prevailing practice) where a respondent fails to participate in an arbitration?
  36. 29.Admissible evidence
    What types of evidence are usually admitted, and how is evidence usually taken? Will the IBA Rules on the Taking of Evidence in International Commercial Arbitration generally be taken into account?
  37. 30.Court assistance
    Will the courts in your jurisdiction play any role in the obtaining of evidence?
  38. 31.Document production
    What is the relevant law and prevailing practice relating to document production in international arbitration in your jurisdiction?
  39. 32.Hearings
    Is it mandatory to have a final hearing on the merits?
  40. 33.Seat or place of arbitration
    If your jurisdiction is selected as the seat of arbitration, may hearings and procedural meetings be conducted elsewhere?
  41. Award

  42. 34.Majority decisions
    Can the tribunal decide by majority?
  43. 35.Limitations to awards and relief
    Are there any particular types of remedies or relief that an arbitral tribunal may not grant?
  44. 36.Dissenting arbitrators
    Are dissenting opinions permitted under the law of your jurisdiction? If so, are they common in practice?
  45. 37.Formalities
    What, if any, are the legal and formal requirements for a valid and enforceable award?
  46. 38.Time frames
    What time limits, if any, should parties be aware of in respect of an award? In particular, do any time limits govern the interpretation and correction of an award?
  47. Costs and interest

  48. 39.

    Costs
    Are parties able to recover fees paid and costs incurred? Does the 'loser pays' rule generally apply in your jurisdiction?


  49. 40.Interest on the award
    Can interest be included on the principal claim and costs? Is there any mandatory or customary rate?
  50. Challenging awards

  51. 41.Grounds for appeal
    Are there any grounds on which an award may be appealed before the courts of your jurisdiction?
  52. 42.Other grounds for challenge
    Are there any other bases on which an award may be challenged, and if so what?
  53. 43.Modifying an award
    Is it open to the parties to exclude by agreement any right of appeal or other recourse that the law of your jurisdiction may provide?
  54. Enforcement in your jurisdiction

  55. 44.Enforcement of set-aside awards
    Will an award that has been set aside by the courts in the seat of arbitration be enforced in your jurisdiction?
  56. 45.Trends
    What trends, if any, are suggested by recent enforcement decisions? What is the prevailing approach of the courts in this regard?
  57. 46.State immunity
    To what extent might a state or state entity successfully raise a defence of state or sovereign immunity at the enforcement stage?
  58. Further considerations

  59. 47.Confidentiality
    To what extent are arbitral proceedings in your jurisdiction confidential?
  60. 48.Evidence and pleadings
    What is the position relating to evidence produced and pleadings filed in the arbitration? Are these confidential? Is there any way that they might be relied on in other proceedings (whether arbitral or court proceedings)?
  61. 49.Ethical codes
    What ethical codes and other professional standards, if any, apply to counsel and arbitrators conducting proceedings in your jurisdiction?
  62. 50.Procedural expectations
    Are there any particular procedural expectations or assumptions of which counsel or arbitrators participating in an international arbitration with its seat in your jurisdiction should be aware?