Bulgarian law is a largely civil, as opposed to a common, law system, based on epitomes in the French and German systems. It still contains elements of Soviet legal thinking, although these are now increasingly on the wane. This makes the approach to criminal law inquisitorial as opposed to adversarial, and is generally characterised by an insistence on formality and rationalisation, as opposed to practicality and informality.
Law enforcement in Bulgaria is a somewhat separate matter which causes significant concerns to Bulgarian society and external observers. The system of criminal law enforcement is accused of being slow and of failing to live up to elevated ideals of fairness. Civil litigation is also unduly difficult and time-consuming with long periods for most types of trial and low effectiveness of awards and enforcement making it virtually pointless for a large proportion of civil litigants, similar to the example of the Italian system that has the same shortcoming. These issues have been in the forefront of recent doubts in Bulgaria's fulfillment of pre-accession obligations towards the European Union and may result in long-awaited reforms, partly through the adoption of the acquis communautaire.
Commercial law is of an increasingly excellent drafting quality and the market in Bulgarian legal services which, while slower to emerge than those elsewhere in Central and Eastern Europe, is now increasingly competitive.
In recent years there has been a growth of NGO activity and decentralisation of state power in law. Entities such as the Bulgarian Center for Not-For-Profit Law supported by USAID have grown in recent years.
- World Factbook of Criminal Justice Systems,
- Freedom House on the effectiveness of the Bulgarian system