Popov & Partners on the Judicial Power Amendment Act: This Amendment Act is the foundation stone of electronic justice, additional efforts are needed for its quick and effective implementation.

Popov & Partners took part in the public discussions of the texts of the Judicial Power Amendment Act. The standpoint was handed in on 15/06/2015 and expresses the principled agreement on the major part of changes, especially the long-awaited regulation for implementation of electronic justice in Bulgaria. At the same time, Popov & Partners points certain texts which the experts of the law office find problematic and therefore reconsideration is advised before voting the Act.

The standpoint contains arguments towards extending the applicability of the integrated portal for electronic justice, which is about to be built. The experts from Popov & Partners state that the magistrates’ guilds should conduct their general meetings electronically. The realization of the voting right, according to the requirements of the Electronic Document and Electronic Signature Act, is a better option in all aspects – economic, organizational and logistic, and of course from a magistrate’s point of view – an easy and user-friendly voting method will lead to larger representativeness. The implementation of electronic voting among the numerous magistrates’ society will be an important step in the context of the general concept of electronic voting according to the world’s tendencies and also the intention for national referendum on this topic.

The opinion of Popov & Partners is that some texts should be specified in view of maximum expanding of the volume of information which is accessible at the stated above portal: it should contain public registries, information about the opening of procedure for hiring jurors and the rules of the procedure, the available places for initial appointment of magistrates and others. The standpoint gives information how to make the portal more user-orientated and functional.

A position is taken up regarding the way of conducting the magistrates’ contests – it is pointed that the new requirement for the candidates creates risk of debasing the personnel policy and principle of competitiveness. Another raised question relates to the vague legal weight of the offered questionnaires and motivational letters. There is a concern on eventual subjectivity and lack of transparency which might be the result of the compulsory “essay” that candidates are required to write, according to the proposed texts.

Undoubtedly, in order to achieve a qualitative judiciary, a proper education is a must – there is a strong need for improvement of the current model for education of trainee-jurists. The standpoint values positively the intention of reforming judicial practices, which trainees take part in before sitting for the final exam that gives them legal qualification. The offered right of choosing the institution where the traineeship is carried out is very precious. In connection with this, the experts propose that the exam should administered by and held before the respective institution, in order to secure the desired specialization and real verification of practical skills, acquired during the traineeship program. This will put an end to the situation of trainees sitting exams, which practically reiterate the content and requirements of the already passed national exams.

The standpoint of Popov & Partners also contains other proposals, including making technical corrections of texts, clarifying commencement terms and others.