Court appeals




Contract between the State Reserves and a private company

Kiril Karaivanov vs. the State National and Wartime Reserves Agency

1st Instance Court – Sofia City Court, Administrative Division, Panel 3-z, Case No. 2095/03
2nd Instance Court—Supreme Administrative Court, 5th Division, Case No. 8754/03
private complaint, in chamber – Supreme Administrative Court, Five-Member Panel, Case No. 649/04

In connection with a year-long investigation of violations of the law related to the activities of the state-owned company Briliant Ltd., situated in the village of Krusheto, and the State National and Wartime Reserves Agency (SNWRA), Mr. Karaivanov had collected a considerable amount of information and needed three more documents, which were of particular importance to the case. He submitted an application to the SNWRA requesting among others a copy of the contract between the SNWRA and Briliant Ltd, (including log number and date of signature).

Mr. Karaivanov received a written refusal from the chairman of the SNWRA, who claimed that the agency did not possess the contract since the time for its storage had expired in April 2002, according to the internal record keeping rules for the agency's overt auctions.

The new refusal was also challenged before the Supreme Administrative Court (SAC), on the grounds that the chairman of the SNWRA had not provided in it the factual grounds to support the statement that the contract requested was not at his disposal. The refusal failed to explain whether the contract had been destroyed or sent to another place for storage (the National Archive, for example).

At a court session, the legal defender of the agency claimed that the requested contract had been terminated in 1999, that the document could not be found in the agency archive, and that there was no record of its destruction or transfer to the National Archive.

The judgment of the SAŃ repealed the refusal and referred the file back to the agency for reconsideration of the information request. The court presumed that the statement that the contract could not be found was unsupported by evidence and did not give grounds for denying access to the information. The SNWRA would need to present evidence either that the contract had been destroyed after the approval of an expert committee, that it had been archived and data noted that would facilitate finding its current storage place, or that it had been lost and the required certification statement been filed to that effect.

The SAC decision referred the file back to the SNWRA for reconsidering the refusal of information along another point included in Mr. Karaivanov’s request. He had demanded copies of four receiving manifests, which were refused on the grounds of state secret. That second part of the SAC decision was in accord with its own practices that institutions should always provide factual grounds as criteria and grounds for classification of any information as a state secret. The mere statement that the information contained in the document constituted a state secret did not conclusively identify the information as such.

English Version • Last Update: 22.03.2006 • © 1999 Copyright by Interia & AIP