Tort acts according to the Bulgarian law of obligations

The tort acts are settled in Articles 45 to 54 of the Bulgarian law of obligations and contracts. The law of torts is characterized by two particularities: the first one is that, according to the wording of Article 45, the tortfeasor’s fault is presumed by law. The second one is that under the Bulgarian civil law there is no uniform tort definition, but the different torts acts are provided for in diverse legal articles and acts (such as Art. 12 and 21 of the Bulgarian law of obligations and contracts). The unlawfulness does not concern the tortfeasor’s actions but of the unlawful legal consequences from them.

Article 45 of the law of obligations and contracts reads as follows: “Everyone who causes damage to another person must compensate for the occurred damage. In all cases of an unlawful infliction of damages, the fault is presumed unless the contrary is proven.” The tortfeasor is liable for his personal culpable actions – therefore, this legal provision does not apply to legal persons. According to Article 49 of the law of obligations and contracts, however legal persons can be liable as principals.

Article 47 of the law provides that a person unable to comprehend or control his actions is not liable for damages that he caused due to this condition, unless he is self responsible for his incapacity. A contrario, that means that the subject of the tort act must be a person with legal capacity to be held liable for tort action. The legal capacity shall be evaluated in each particular case – for majors as well as for minors. In cases of self-defence the liability is excluded. It is supposed that the tortfeasor’s actions are not unlawful per se. However, in cases of stringent necessity, the created damage has to be repaired – even if the actions were not culpable, the result is unlawful (Article 46 of the law).

Responsibility of persons with legal duty to care for incapable persons

According to Article 47 (2) of the Bulgarian law of obligations and contract, the person with legal duty to care for incapable persons is liable for damage caused by the person unable to act, unless the occurrence of the damage could not have been prevented. Persons with obligation to supervise are teachers, kindergarten teachers, nurses in mental hospitals etc. The responsibility is withdrawn from these persons if they could not prevent the occurrence of the damage.

According to the prevailing opinion, the regulation under Art. 45 of the law provides for a fault-based actions and subjective liability of persons with obligation to supervise.

Responsibility of parents

The responsibility of parents is regulated in Article 48 of the Bulgarian law of obligations and contracts: “Parents and adoptive parents that exercise parental rights are liable for the damage caused by their minor children living with them. The guardian is liable for damage caused by his ward living with him.” This kind of responsibility is rather objective whereby parents are liable for their children’s bad education.

The abovementioned persons are not liable if they were unable to prevent the occurrence of the damage (Article 48 (2) of the law).

Responsibility of the principal

The principal is liable for the damage caused by his commissary while performing the imposed work. This legal provision is not applicable regarding contracts for work – there the person performing the work is personally liable.

Today, the judiciary assumes unanimously that the liability is objective and not depending on the principal’s fault for bad selection of the commissary. The principal may exercise his right on action for recourse/claim towards the commissary (Article 54 of the law of obligations and contracts).

Responsibility for damage caused by items

According to Article 50 of the Bulgarian law of obligations and contracts, owners and supervisors of items are jointly and severally liable for damage caused by items of any kind. If the damage was caused by animals, the owner/supervisor is liable even if the animal ran away or got lost. Dangerousness per se or other specific characteristics of the item are not required.

The difference between this matter of facts and the matters of facts from Article 45 and 49 consists in the fact that regarding the latter ones, the responsibility is carried due to an illegal, unlawful handling of the item. The owner and the supervisor are liable regardless of their personal fault; their behaviour must not be unlawful or culpable. If they prove that the damage was caused by a force majeure, by actions of third parties or by the actions of the aggrieved party, they do not carry responsibility.