On 31 March-1 April 2017 in Burgas and 21-22 April in Sofia were held seminars on the topic "Good Practices in the Management of the Courts, the Experience of the Netherlands and the New Positions in the Judicialy Act".
The seminars were addressed to the presidents of the courts, their deputies and judges, who were interested in the topic of good administration of the court's work.
Participation in both seminars took over 60 judges from appellate, district  and administrative courts in Bulgaria.
Guest lecturer was Mr. Bert Maan,  judge in the Court of Appeal, Amsterdam, Netherlands.

The programm of the seminars included the following main topics:

Judicial self-governance, experiences from The Netherlands
Management of courts, theory and practice
Leadership in courts
Innovation in Justice
Introduction about the legal provisions concerning judicial self-governance 

The seminars are organized as part of the project “Establishing an enabling environment for management of the courts in Bulgaria”, funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands

Summary of the conference which was held on 23-24 April 2016 in Veliko Tarnowo, in implementation of the project “Building of beneficially background for independent judiciary in Bulgaria”, financed by the Government of the Kingdom of Netherlands.

The meeting was held in the context of the yet adopted and the forthcoming amendments of the Statute for the judiciary and was aimed at conducting broad discussion between the judges in the following topics: The management of the courts and role of the General assemblies of the judges; giving a testimonial, career development and status of the judges; improving the faith of the citizens in the judiciary through interaction of the judges’ community with the society.

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In November 2013 BJA commenced the implementation of the project titled “Establishing an Еnabling Еnvironment for Independent Judiciary in Bulgaria”, financed by the Government of the Kingdome of the Netherlands. The NVvR, the Nederlandse Vereniging voor Rechtspraak (in English Dutch Association for the Judiciary) is a partner of the BJA in this project. The timeframe of the latter is 31 months and the total amount of the grant is € 150, 390.

Among others the project aims at:
1. Transfer of information, knowledge and best practices pertaining to:
- case flow management, handling and overcoming difficulties in the work of individual judges;
- defining a standard for the workload of individual judges and the courts they work for;
- measures that ensure a balanced workload and address the problem of excessive workload;
- the impact of budgeting;

2. Comparative analysis/study of proceedings in disciplinary cases involving judges in the Kingdom of Netherlands with a view to seeking solutions to and overcoming the deficiencies in disciplinary proceedings conducted in Bulgaria in order to align them to international standards for court independence;

3. Development of a system for the training of judges and law students in a new subject - Structure and organisation of the Judiciary - that will cover a broad range of topics relating to the legal status of judges, the possibilities for career development and the strengthening of their independence, including on the basis of better personal competency and understanding of their professional standing, the requirements for the administration and management of courts and the boundaries of agreeable supervision over their functioning;  

4. Commencement of a joint comparative analysis of the legal framework in the Netherlands and Bulgaria from the point of view of the ECHR, the guiding documents of the Venice Commission and the CCEJ with regard to:
-    the status of judges and the rules giving rise to the commencement, alteration and termination of legal relations in this regard;
-    criteria for the evaluation of the professional performance of judges;
-    criteria for evaluation of the standard of quality of court judgments;
-    grounds and procedure for the levying of disciplinary sanctions;
-    analysis of the work of the ISSJC - legal framework and practice - defining the boundaries of external oversight over the work of judges without undermining their independence; opportunities to use such oversight mechanisms as a tool to raise the efficiency and effectiveness of justice administration at the level of individual courts;
-    practical rules for cooperation between the courts of EU Member States in individual cases;

5. European Arrest Warrant;

5. Comprehensive handbook that will accumulate the analysis from a practical point of view of the outcomes 1, 2 and 3. will be disseminated in and could be used as a training course by law schools and NIJ.

Duration: 3 years

Grant:     420,000.00 BGL


Project Goals
Build a stronger judiciary adhering to higher professional and ethical standards and ensure judicial participation, expertise and experience as an indispensable reform resource.
Project Objectives. In pursuing this goal the Project will focus on the following objectives: 
1.Provide more judges with the institutional means to be involved in reforming the judicial branch and to voice their perspective;
2.Develop a set of key policies for the judicial reform and establish the model for judicial involvement in policymaking;
3.Strengthen BJA and reinforce its capacity to work nationally with its broader membership base (including young judges and judges from outside Sofia) as a key factor in rallying Bulgarian judges around high standards of professional integrity and a shared vision for the reform of the justice branch.
Policy development
Six key challenges for the judicial reform will be identified and detailed policy proposal for them will be developed and put forward. This process will both provide much needed judicial expertise for the judicial reform and help developing BJA as a platform for judicial empowerment. The identification of the challenges (respectively the areas of policy work) will happen with the input of judges and working of groups of judges will be formed for each area. This can be done at the Annual BJA Conference: in advance of the event the participants will be asked to fill in questionnaires on their perceptions of the most important challenges facing Bulgarian court. At the conference the outcomes of the polling will be presented and discussed and working groups will be formed for each of the three areas that were selected. The proceedings of the working groups will be reflected in detail on BJA web page and Bulletin and will be coordinated with civil sector experts. Outcomes of the working groups will be presented at the regional round-tables and at the next Annual BJA Conference where they will become official position of the BJA. BJA then will advocate for the adoption of the developed policy proposals. Members of the NIJ Network, judges from outside Sofia and the BJA’s local chapters will be specifically engaged to ensure that their perspectives and experience are reflected in the policy work.
For illustrative purposes, this is a provisional list of some possible areas of work:
•Case-load measurement and management;
•Governance in the judicial branch and the Status of court presidents;
•Judicial Ethics;
•Evaluation of judicial performance;
•Media-Judicial Relations;
•Quality of the acts of the Court.
Enabling activities
The implementation of the Project will be facilitated by several tools and activities. Simultaneously, these will contribute greatly for the overall institutional capacity-building of the BJA.  
National Institute of Justice Alumni Network. An online network of the NIJ Alumni will be established and based on the BJA web-page. A national conference for the members of the network will be held. The participating NJA Alumni will be involved in all other project activities. 
Round-tables. Quarterly Regional round-tables will be organized to ensure the inclusion of judges from all regions of Bulgaria in the development of the Project policies and the general work of BJA. They will ensure that judges from outside Sofia and from the BJA’s regional chapters will be engaged in the work on the Policies. 
Annual BJA Conference. Annual BJA Conferences will be conducted during the course of the Project with a view of making this a sustained practice. These events will be used as culmination of BJA efforts to engage judges nationally in its work and in the development of the Project Policies. 
Web-page. The existing BJA Web-page will be redesigned to become a dynamic communication tool with a primary goal of becoming the basis of a new dialogue within the judicial profession on all challenges it faces today in Bulgaria. It will be a key instrument for engaging the BJA membership base, provision of services, mobilizing judicial expertise and conveying the new image of BJA and the judicial profession as a whole. 
The America for Bulgaria Foundation assists in growing and strengthening a vibrant market economy and democratic society in Bulgaria, helping the country to realize its full potential as a successful, modern European nation. Founded in 2008, the ABF is a successor to the Bulgarian American Enterprise Fund, an investment fund created by the U.S. government acting through the U.S. Agency for International Development. The grants provided by ABF build on the legacy of goodwill and friendship that exists between the American people and the citizens of Bulgaria.


Main objective of the project:

To increase the effectiveness of members of the Bulgarian Judges Association to provide the best information and training for competent handling of the cases of crimes committed by children and victims who are children.


To read the Executive Summary of the project, please  click   h e r e

Duration: September 2007 - March 2008
Budget: 20 640 Levs
Implementing organization: Bulgarian Judges Association, represented by Nelly Koutskova
Funded by: the program MATRA / KAP of the Dutch Embassy


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