Bulgaria has implemented and is rigorously applying the acquis communautaire in the fields of competition and industry regulatory regimes. Compliance with the relevant rules is critical for all companies operating in the local market; thus our EU & competition practice is committed to providing our clients with the best competition and regulatory advice. Many of our major clients are active in the public sector; assisting them, we have gained valuable experience in all types of public procurement procedures, concessions, and, more recently, in the public-private partnerships.

We have considerable experience in dealing with the Commission for Protection of Competition, which is not only the competent Bulgarian body in antitrust, merger control, and unfair competition, but also the first instance jurisdiction for all public procurement appeals (except for special procurements related to national security, which are appealable directly to the Supreme Administrative Court).

Competition & Regulatory Compliance

To reduce the risk of violating competition rules, we assess our retainer clients’ business strategies and key agreements, paying special attention to the sensitive areas such as licensing, vertical restraints, anti-parallel import measures, etc. We have particular experience in utilizing effective competition compliance programmes in the FMCG (foods, beverages, cosmetics, tobacco), media and engineering services sectors.

The Commission for Protection of Competition has the power to investigate any potentially anti-competitive practice and to impose fines within the EU-standard range of up to 10% of the turnover. That is why we are ready to react immediately in cases of an impending or already commenced investigation: by first applying an appropriate (preferably pre-arranged) dawn raid compliance programme, and then developing and implementing the best possible defence strategy.

Our continuous engagements towards clients from regulated sectors, such as financial services, utilities, media, telecommunications, transport, and others, has furnished us with a deep understanding of the respective statutory regulatory regimes. We are able to provide assistance both in the licensing procedures and in ensuring license holders’ regulatory compliance. In certain occasions, we also provide advice to recognised national non-government self-regulatory bodies, e.g. in the field of advertising.

Merger Control

We successfully handle merger filings in Bulgaria. For the “formal” filings which are not likely to raise any competition concerns we offer smooth and cost-effective clearance process. Our practice, however, is mostly known for the “problematic” filings where we have a track-record of difficultly obtained clearances, including through negotiating structural and behavioural remedies and defending the appealed Commission’s decisions at the Supreme Administrative Court.

Public Procurement and PPP

The public procurement is an especially sensitive topic for Bulgaria and we are very consistent in keeping our practice in line with the highest business ethics standards and the internationally recognized principles for countering bribery and corruption.

The Bulgarian procurement legislation is declared to be fully compatible with the EU-law but it still has some specifics which require extreme cautiousness by the tenderers in all types of procedures. Starting from the early stage of the bid preparation we assist our clients in the proper completion of their sets of documents to avoid disqualification. Further, in case of success of the bid, we participate in the contract negotiations and defend the decision of the contracting authority in all appealing proceedings. Our public procurement litigation practice has contributed for the development of the case law on critical issues such as the correlation between the general procurement law and the special public procurement procedures related to the national security; the pre-conditions for admissibility of the direct negotiation procedure; the announcement of tenders for unique equipment available from only one supplier worldwide; the reliance on third party’s resources, etc.

Public-private partnerships are still rarely used in Bulgaria but we already have a success story with one contractual PPP and currently we work on a challenging project for the implementation of an institutional PPP.