Efforts to introduce mediation in Bulgaria began in the mid-1990s. Initially, European Union and United States programs aimed at preparing Bulgaria for NATO and EU accession, resulted in creating a small mediation community that included: mediators, attorneys, researchers, law faculty, NGO activists and judges.
In 2004, the Bulgarian Parliament adopted the Bulgarian Mediation Act, which established the legal basis for the further promotion of mediation through an elaboration of mediation principles and procedures, the mediator’s status, and mediated settlement agreements.
A steady effort subsequently began to increase the number of trained mediators, develop a stable and consistent interest within the courts for court-annexed mediation programs, and encourage law schools to offer mediation classes. These efforts have led to an active and expanding mediation community.
In the last several years, there have been discussions in Bulgaria about introducing mandatory mediation. While it is still not clear which types of cases and what mandatory element would be used, an understanding is growing that it should be done with preparation, care, and a follow-up mechanism to assess results.
SENIOR FELLOW – BULGARIA
Evgeni Georgiev is a trial judge at the Sofia City Court, with over seventeen years of experience on the bench. He was the first judge in Bulgaria to successfully use mediation techniques in his courtroom.