Association Of <p>Independent Advocates<p>

Association Of

Independent Advocates

Our main goals are furthering the modernization of the Bulgarian Bar and the implementation of normal conditions for exercising the legal profession.

Founding Assembly

The Founding Assembly of the Association оf Independent Advocates was held on September 28, 2019. Attorneys from numerous Bar Associations were present - Sofia, Smolyan, Burgas, Varna, Vidin, Pazardzhik and Stara Zagora. The Association was established to carry out activities for the public benefit. The Articles of association of the Association were adopted unanimously and signed.

Goals

Goals

The goals of AIA were defined by the Founding Assembly and adopted with the Articles of the Association. Goals of AIA

1
Instruments

Instruments

We pursue our goals and initiatives by undertaking the following activities: Instruments for achieving the goals

2
Initiatives

Initiatives

You can find the activities we have undertaken so far here: Our initiatives

3

Our missions for 2019-2020

Priorities

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The Bulgarian Registry Agency has provided for the possibility for a fairly easy access and operating with the Commercial Register which mostly benefits lawyers. In fact, we could say that only a few government institutions have provided for a fully operational online platform which allows for a remote access by means of a qualified electronic signature. From this perspective, the Registry Agency is at least 10 years ahead of the courts and the other institutions that lawyers interact with on a daily basis. In addition, except for the annual financial statements filings, the Commercial Register processes applications and filings very quickly.

However, despite all of these indisputably positive results, the operation of the Commercial Register is not completely devoid of issues, and the Property Register cannot boast of any of the said positive features. On the contrary, the Property Register is far behind the Commercial Register with respect to ease of use, functionality and regular upgrades.
The registry officials’ practice is rife with instances of inconsistent and contradictory application of the law, and registry officials are often not very successful in keeping up with case law on appeals against their resolutions to deny entries. The time needed for verification and resolution/entry on the Annual financial statements applications is also excessively long. We mustn’t also forget the 17 days crash of the Commercial Register back in 2018.

One of the goals of the Association of Independent Advocates is to cooperate with and assist the Registry Agency officials in their effort to streamline the functioning of the Commercial Register, including cooperation and assistance in cases involving bug fixes and improvements related to the new web-based platform, which is expected to become operational in early 2020.
From the perspective of the legal profession, the Property Register is still very close to the level it used to be 10 years ago when the IKAR platform was first brought into operation. One of the goals of the Association of Independent Advocates is to urge and assist the officials from the Registry Agency, the Ministry of Justice and all other competent institutions to follow through with the undertakings they have made during one of our recent meetings, including: enabling remote access for lawyers to the Property Register’s archives and the scanned images of all registered title deeds. We consider it highly inappropriate for lawyers to wait in line at the Registry Agency Archives Office along with lay citizens. It is more than clear that the time wasted waiting before the offices of the Registry Agency ultimately leads to otherwise avoidable charges to our clients. Therefore, the lack of remote access, exercised by means of a qualified e-signature or another authentication method has a direct negative effect on both individuals and businesses.
The functionality of the registers can be significantly improved as long as the Registry Agency and Ministry of Justice officials strive to do so, and, if necessary, following legislative amendments. In any event those officials must maintain good communication with the actual users of both registers. Naturally, lawyers are among the most frequent professional users of the registers. They possess the required experience and expertise to provide the authorities with valuable feedback and recommendations regarding their operation. The very first steps towards achieving this goal have already been made.
In connection with the initiatives of the members of the Facebook Community of Bulgarian Lawyers and with the assistance of the Ombudsman of the Republic of Bulgaria, two meetings were held with the Minister of Justice and officials of the Registry Agency. All issues have been brought to the attention of the responsible officials in writing. Following those meetings, the Registry Agency issued Practical guidelines as a first step towards assisting the registry officials in the execution of their duties and establishing of uniform rules and criteria with respect to the processing and resolution of registration applications. When the Association of Independent Advocates was formed, the Registry Agency has addressed a letter to its president, expressing desire to cooperate with AIA on issues related to the operation of the Commercial and Property registers. In this regard, AIA will be providing feedback and recommendations on testing and bringing into operation of the new Commercial and Non-Profit Organizations Register portal and we will continue to insist on providing lawyers with remote access to the Property register archives.

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As far as the activity of the Bar is concerned, unfair competition comprises dishonest actions which are in breach of good faith business practices and legal regulations governing the Bar. Amongst those most common are: unfair attracting of customers (through aggressive marketing strategies or through intermediaries and informants); pursuing lawyers’ activity through commercial companies; negotiating fees for attorneys' services in violation of the Ordinance on the Minimum Amounts of Attorney's Fees; misleading clients about the capacity of the service provider, etc.
Yes. As of 2019-2020, numerous advocates and various persons without the said capacity engage in unfair competition, thereby infringing the interests of advocates abiding the law and adhering to fair market behavior.
Unfair competition is carried out by advocates, as well as by various persons, who are not registered in the bar associations: traders, accountants, developers, brokers, etc.
The reasons are complex. On the one hand, the Bar does not have the necessary mechanisms, including organizational and human resources to cope with unfair competition. On the other hand, unfair competition is profitable. Those who practice it very quickly see the economic incentive to continue and even invent new unfair practices. As a result, many typical trading methods and techniques are beginning to enter the legal services market. This leads to a decrease in the quality of legal services and a loss of credibility for our profession.
One possible approach is to engage the liability of the persons involved with unfair competition. This approach has some weaknesses. Firstly, the bodies of the Bar can only effectively engage the liability of advocates. With regards to persons outside the Bar, our bodies have limited competence and so far have shown no will for handling the situation. Second, engaging this liability requires the implementation of a number of procedures. The bodies of the Bar who possess the necessary competence do not always have the resources needed and the motivation to exercise them. Moreover even when liability of certain advocates is engaged their place is soon taken by other offenders. The second possible approach is complex. On one hand, the bodies of the Bar should be more proactive and seek more rational approach to the offending advocates. On the other hand, the Bar must correctly identify the problem with persons outside the Bar who are engaging in unfair competition. This problem lies with the Bar itself, which defines as legal activity certain services that can be provided by other legal professionals as well. As a result, advocates are subject to many restrictions that do not apply to their competitors - merchants or other legal professionals. Some of these restrictions are advertising bans and minimum fees, which often exceed three times the free market prices. Those restrictions place the Bar in a disadvantageous market position compared to other market operators that are our competitors with regards to this type of services. It should be noted that these are often services that do not require particularly in-depth legal expertise, but are, on the other hand, popular: business registration; company changes; drafting up some blank contracts, etc. In other cases (e.g. real estate transactions), our competitors use the services of trained lawyers.
1. Clear definition of the advocate's activity as exclusive and non-exclusive types of activity; 2. Removal of the restrictions on advertising of legal services which represent non-exclusive advocate’s activity in order to place the advocates in an equal market position with the other providers of these services who are not lawyers; 3. Withdrawal of the minimum fees restrictions provided for in Ordinance 1 for services that are non-exclusive advocate’s activity. This measure is again aimed at placing the lawyers on an equal market position with other providers of these services who are not lawyers and to whom minimums do not apply; 4. Concentrating the activity of the disciplinary bodies of the Bar on cases where unfair competition is performed by advocates and concerns services which are exclusive advocate's activity.
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Who are we?

Why Participate?

You share our objectives

You have advanced perspectives and share our vision for developing a lawyer.

Looking for a change

You think that the work environment of lawyers needs to be improved and modernized.

Have resolution

You are looking for and want to offer us rational and effective solutions.

You want to back us up

We are too few and we need some more proactive partners.

Management

Board Of Directors

Emil A. Georgiev

Emil A. Georgiev

Chairman of the BD

Emil A. Georgiev

Emil A. Georgiev

Chairman of the BD

Bar Association: Sofia

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Practice: Intellectual property

E-mail: emil.georgiev@reguligence.com

Tel: +359 887 678 190

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Ivanka Georgieva

Ivanka Georgieva

Board Of Directors

Ivanka Georgieva

Ivanka Georgieva

Board Of Directors

Bar Association: Sofia

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Practice: Intellectual property

E-mail: georgieva_ivanka@abv.bg

Tel: +359 898 875 008

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Venelina Foteva

Venelina Foteva

Board Of Directors

Venelina Foteva

Venelina Foteva

Board Of Directors

Bar Association: Burgas

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Practice: Commercial and corporate law

E-mail: foteva@ftm-lawfirm.com

Tel: +359 878 915 911

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Yavor Harizanov

Yavor Harizanov

Board Of Directors

Yavor Harizanov

Yavor Harizanov

Board Of Directors

Bar Association: Sofia

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Practice: Commercial and corporate law

E-mail: office@harizanov.net

Web: BezGishe.bg

Tel: +359 887 397 106

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Georgi Gaidarov

Georgi Gaidarov

Board Of Directors

Georgi Gaidarov

Georgi Gaidarov

Board Of Directors

Bar Association: Sofia

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Practice: Property Law and Real Estate

E-mail: ggaidarov@abv.bg

Tel: +359 884 656 852

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Marinela Ashikova

Marinela Ashikova

Board Of Directors

Marinela Ashikova

Marinela Ashikova

Board Of Directors

Bar Association: Sofia

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Practice: Civil Law

E-mail: office@ashikova.com

Tel: +359 898 817 145

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