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On Friday 6 October 2023, the Autumn Conference in Sofia started with a reception at the Concert Hall of the Central Military Club, a beautiful and historical location. Over a hundred delegates had the opportunity to meet new colleagues and catch up with old friends.  Vincent Asselineau, chair of the ECBA, welcomed everyone warmly as ever. The speech of the Chairman of the Supreme Bar Council of Bulgaria, Adv. Dr. Ivaylo Dermendjiev, made all delegates feel very welcome in Bulgaria. 

The next morning, 7 October 2023, the conference proceeded in the conference hall of the Intercontinental Hotel.

After a short introduction by Vincent Asselineau, the floor was given once more to Dr. Ivaylo Dermendjiev, who gave some insight on the practice of criminal defence lawyers in Bulgaria. In Bulgaria, criminal law is not widely practiced. There is no official statistics, but out of 14,000 lawyers in this country, those practicing criminal law are fewer than 500. In comparison, 500 out of 6,000 lawyers in Rome practice criminal law, which share is similar in other EU Member States. The work of a criminal lawyer is not so attractive because it is harder than that of trade and civil lawyers. Also, a criminal lawyer works with people’s fates, while a civil lawyer deals with their money, Dermendzhiev said. The language barrier also leads to problems related to cross-border disputes. There are simply not enough good criminal lawyers who also speak foreign languages. 

The Bulgarian News Agency reported on the ECBA conference being hosted in Sofia:

“ECBA Chairman Vincent Asselineau told BTA that Bulgaria is extremely important for the ECBA in that the country is well-situated geopolitically while being poorly represented in Europe in the field of criminal law. In his words, they want to get to know their colleagues here so that Bulgarian criminal lawyers can become visible in the whole of Europe. The ECBA, which is a link between European countries, the European Commission and the European Parliament, wants to create contacts and structures in Bulgaria, Asselineau added.” 



Conference opening – welcome speeches

Vincent Asselineau, Chair of the ECBA
Adv. Dr. Ivaylo Dermendjiev, Chairman of the Supreme Bar Council of Bulgaria

Scott Crosby Human Rights Award 2023 announcement

Introduction: Vincent Asselineau, President of the ECBA
o Alexis Anagnostakis – ECBA Human Rights Committee Officer

Panel 1: Sanctions - implementation, enforcement, challenges

Chair: Rebecca Niblock, ECBA Vice Chair, UK

  • Amélie Beauchemin, defence lawyer, France
  • Anna Bradshaw, defence lawyer, UK
  • Maya Ivanova, defence lawyer, Bulgaria
  • Violetta Zeppa-Priedite, defence lawyer, Latvia


Panel 2: Procedural Safeguards

Chair: Miroslav Krutina, ECBA Vice Chair, Czechia

Panel 3: Anti-corruption legislation in Europe and Fundamental Rights
Chair: Amedeo Barletta, ECBA Vice Chair, Italy

Intro:   ECBA Statement on the new proposed Directive on Combating Corruption
           Vladimir Hrle, ECBA Anti-Corruption in Europe Working Group Co-Chair, Serbia