Bulgaria / Supreme Cassation Court of the Republic of Bulgaria / 1/2016 Proposing parties: vice presidents and chairs of the Civil and Commercial Chambers of the Supreme Cassation Court

Key facts of the case:

As the group of persons entitled to receive compensation for non-material damage caused by the wrongful death of a relative/person in close relations is not determined by Bulgarian law, this has traditionally been done by decrees of the plenary of the (former) Bulgarian Supreme Court (Върховен съд), based on the principle of fairness in the Obligations and Contracts Act (Закон за задълженията и договорите). Two consecutive decrees have delineated the group rather restrictively and a re-opening of the matter was considered necessary in view of changing socio-economic realities.

Key legal question raised by the Court:

Which are the persons entitled to receive compensation for non-material damage as a result of the wrongful death of a relative/person in close relations?

Outcome of the case:

The court decided that the group of persons entitled to receive compensation for non-material damage as a result of the wrongful death of a relative/person in close relations are the close relatives, stated in the previous decrees of the Supreme Court. In addition, by exception such compensation can be awarded to any other person, who has been in a proven lasting and deep emotional relation with the deceased and sustains from his/her death actual lasting pain and suffering, for which fairness in the specific case requires compensation. As for criminal procedure, such compensation can be awarded to the close relatives previously decreed upon, as well as the deceased’s siblings and his/her relatives in the descending and ascending line in the second degree.

 

Paragraphs referring to EU Charter: 

„The deceased’s closest ones (in the meaning of the two decrees) are entitled to compensation, because, due to the nature of the bond they shared, it is logical to suppose that they suffer direct, imminent and lasting significant moral pain and suffering from his/her loss. This right of the closest ones to receive compensation is not absolute and cannot be realised if the person claiming compensation does not prove that he/she indeed suffered non-material damage, for which fairness requires compensation under Art. 52 of the Obligations and Contracts Act. Based on the same provision, however, it is also fair for other persons, outside the closest family and relatives, to be able to receive compensation for non-material damage if they were in a permanent, lasting and deep emotional relationship with the deceased, due to which they sustain moral pain and suffering from his/her death comparable in their intensity and duration to those of the closest ones. Denying the right to compensation in case of realistic and proven moral damage from the loss of a close person contradicts the principle of fairness under Art. 52 of the Obligations and Contracts Act and the equality before the law guaranteed by Art. 6, para. 2 of the Bulgarian Constitution and Art. 20 and 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights. The option for compensating other persons, outside the ones stipulated in Decrees No 4/61 and 5/69 should be allowed as an exception – only in cases where life circumstances and situations have caused particular closeness between the deceased person and the person in question, which justifies the compensation of actual moral damages (together with the deceased’s closest ones or instead of them – if they cannot prove that they have sustained damage as a result of his/her death).”

Paragraphs referring to EU Charter (original language): 

„Най-близките на починалия (по смисъла на двете постановления) се ползват с право на обезщетение, тъй като поради естеството на съществувалата житейска връзка е логично да се предполага, че те търпят пряко, непосредствено и за продължителен период от време значителни постепен морални болки и страдания от загубата му. Правото на най-близките да получат обезщетение не е абсолютно и не може да бъде реализирано, ако претендиращият обезщетение не докаже, че действително е претърпял неимуществени вреди, които е справедливо да бъдат обезщетени съгласно чл.52 ЗЗД. От гледна точка на чл.52 ЗЗД обаче е справедливо и други лица, извън най-близкия семеен и родствен кръг, да могат да получат обезщетение за неимуществени вреди, ако са създали с починалия постоянна, трайна и дълбока емоционална връзка, заради съдържанието на която търпят морални болки и страдания от смъртта му, сравними по интензитет и продължителност с болките и страданията на най-близките. Отричането на правото на обезщетение при реално проявени и доказани неимуществени вреди от загубата на близък човек противоречи на принципа за справедливост по чл.52 ЗЗД и на гарантираното с чл.6, ал.2 от Конституцията на Република България и с чл.20 и чл.47 от Хартата за основните права в Европейския съюз равенство на всеки пред закона. Възможността за обезщетяване на други лица, извън изброените в Постановление № 4/61 г. и Постановление на 5/69 г., следва да се допусне като изключение - само за случаите, когато житейски обстоятелства и ситуации са станали причина между починалия и лицето да се породи особена близост, оправдаваща получаването на обезщетение за действително претърпени неимуществени вреди (наред с най-близките на починалия или вместо тях - ако те не докажат, че са претърпели вреди от неговата смърт).”

Language: 
Bulgarian
Deciding body (original language): 
Върховен касационен съд на Република България
Language: 
Bulgarian