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Bulgaria adopts changes to Public Procurement

Bulgaria has recently adopted new appeal procedures related to public procurement. Designed to speed-up appeals and to bring an end to bad faith actions, the new rules are designed to place Bulgaria in line with more general European norms.

Public procurement makes up approx. 9% of Bulgaria’s annual GDP; thus, the new measures are designed to protect and enhance this very important aspect of Bulgaria’s economy. Prior to the adopted measures, Bulgaria has found it difficult to implement large infrastructure projects, as procurement tenders very readily get bogged down in legal wrangling. Apart from changes to create efficiency (i.e., allowing documentation to be filed electronically), certain amendents are notable, as follows:

Safeguard measures

Bidders have had a tendency to bring blanket complaints notwithstanding their involvement in the relevant bidding process. This behaviour was designed to extract “rents” from interested parties interested in resolving conflict. The new measures mandate a direct connection test for any complaint to be filed. Judges now have expanded powers to decide whether there is a legal interest at play; with the ability to dimiss such complaints enhanced.

Accountability for appeals

A contracting authority may now hold a bidder directly liable for bringing a bad faith challenge. The idea is that direct financial responsibility will discipline misbehaviour during a public procurement process.

Procedural suspension curtailed

Bidders have normally attempted to hijack the process by filing competition commission appeals (CPC appeals) whereby upon filing the entire bidding process is suspended. Now CPC appeals will only suspend a process upon an initial review by the commission finding that there is grounds for further review. Prior, suspension would occur on the date of the filing (without the review even being conducted).