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Bulgaria / Supreme Cassation Court of the Republic of Bulgaria / Private civil case 2253/2018

Cassation appellant: Mr E.D.M. seeking compensation for unlawful actions by investigative police

Policy area:
Justice, freedom and security
Deciding Body type:
National Court/Tribunal
Deciding Body:
Supreme Cassation Court of the Republic of Bulgaria
Decision date:

Key facts of the case:

As a result of a ruling by the lower appellate and the lowest instance, terminating his civil case in question, a Mr E.D.M. submitted a cassation appeal asking whether Art. 13 of the ECHR could open the possibility for compensation for damage arising from actions of the authorities and whether the provision takes precedence before national law. The termination of the case was also claimed wrongful due to violation of Articles 6 and 13 of the ECHR and Art. 47 of the Charter. The case concerned a claim for compensation against an investigative police officer for his allegedly unlawful failure to recuse himself from a criminal case. The lowest court found that, due to the functional immunity of police, the claim against the officer is procedurally inadmissible. The appellate court confirmed the stance of the lower court. The Supreme Cassation Court recalled that, in compliance with Art. 13 of the ECHR, Bulgarian law provides for a mechanism to compensate damage arising from actions of authorities, the Liability of State and Municipalities for Damage Act (Закон за отговорността на държавата и общините за вреди). The functional immunity of officers themselves does not preclude the victims of such actions from receiving due process under that Act. In this sense, the appellant’s argument for violation of Art. 47 of the Charter is not relevant either, as he has an effective remedy, a claim under the special Act. The officer himself could only be held liable if the damaging act was done intentionally, as a result of a crime or not in relation with the officer’s official duties.

Key legal question raised by the Court:

Could, under the effective remedy provisions of the ECHR and the Charter, an officer be held liable for his/her unlawful actions having caused damage to a citizen?

Outcome of the case:

The Supreme Cassation Court denied the cassation appeal of Mr E.D.M. and precluded the claim for damage, directed at a police officer for his allegedly unlawful actions.