The Labour Courts Act, which was recently published in the Official Gazette, aims to ease the judiciary's workload and accelerate the judicial process in employment cases. The act has introduced a number of changes, the most important of which include mandatory mediation for employers and employees before initiating lawsuits, an amended procedure for reinstatement cases and a reduced statute of limitations of five years for several types of compensation.
Article 5 of the Cheque Law imposes a judicial fine on cheque account owners for a bounced cheque. These fines cannot be less than the amount of the bounced cheque plus the accrued interest on the cheque's submission date and the total fees for execution and legal proceedings. Several courts recently applied to the Constitutional Court to request the annulment of Article 5 based on, among other things, the uncertain criteria used to calculate such fines.
The Supreme Court recently rendered an important decision concerning the protection of employees' privacy rights. The court reversed a first-instance labour court decision and ruled that the dismissal of an employee was unlawful on the grounds that the employer had used the employee's WhatsApp conversations (obtained in an impermissible way) as evidence, thus violating the employee's right to privacy.
The right of employees to annual paid leave is regulated by Articles 53 to 60 of the Labour Act and the Regulation on Annual Paid Leave. In principle, employees are expected to take their annual leave en bloc. Recent amendments to the act and the regulation maintain the right of employees to continuous rest, but provide flexibility to those who wish to divide their holidays into several parts in a given year.
The Supreme Court recently issued a decision concerning an employee's dismissal on the grounds of (among other things) recording a conversation with his supervisor without his consent. The court reversed a first-instance decision and ruled that the termination was lawful based on the fact that the employee had been handling personal business during working hours without authorisation and secretly recorded a conversation.
Due to the need for the existing court procedural rules and organisational structure to be harmonised with the newly established three-tier court system, amendments have been made to the Code of Civil Procedure with the purpose of eliminating emergent problems in the functioning of regional appellate and administrative courts. The most remarkable amendment regards the period for appeal before the Court of Cassation.
The Regulation on the Determination and Enforcement of Target Investigation, Prosecution or Trial Periods was recently published in the Official Gazette. The regulation sets out the rules and procedures for determining the specific periods in which legal proceedings must be completed, thus ameliorating the judicial process. By establishing and adhering to time limits for legal proceedings, Turkey may be able to eliminate the delays in its judicial system.
A long-awaited legal arrangement on employees' automatic enrolment in private pension plans by their employers was introduced into Turkish law by way of an amendment law published in 2016. The amendment law adds new provisions to the Private Pension Savings and Investment System Act 2001. Accordingly, employees under the age of 45 will be enrolled in a private pension plan with a pension agreement between the employer and a pension company.
Transparency International recently published the 2016 Corruption Perceptions Index, which reflects non-governmental organisations' and business world representatives' perception of public sector corruption. Turkey came 75th out of 176 countries. This is the third consecutive year in which Turkey's ranking has fallen and its score is the lowest that the country has received in the past four years.
If a foreign national who owns real estate in Turkey dies, his or her successors must have recourse to the Turkish courts and obtain a certificate of inheritance in order to complete the transfer of the real estate under their names before the land registry or be able to legally dispose of the property in any manner. A recent case illustrates that this issue can be overcome by the submission of specific documents issued by the competent authorities of foreign countries, testament or notary statements.
The Ministry of Justice recently prepared a new draft Law on Labour Courts and shared it with the relevant public institutions and organisations for review. The draft law aims to ease the judiciary's workload and accelerate the judicial process in employment cases. The most important amendment stipulated in the draft law is the introduction of a mandatory mediation phase. If the draft law is adopted, it will be mandatory for employees to apply for mediation before initiating certain lawsuits.
The Council of Ministers recently enacted a decree-law that amends Banking Law 5411 by introducing a sub-paragraph into Article 160, which regulates the crime of embezzlement committed by bank officers. While the need to make this amendment may at first be questioned, it should be read in light of the background of the crime of banking embezzlement.
Corporate liability remains a highly problematic and criticised issue in Turkey. In Turkish criminal law practice, criminal liability is deemed as personal, and criminal penalties can be imposed only on natural persons for crimes committed under a corporate body. Although the fact that corporate bodies can also commit crimes has long been established by the precedents of the Constitutional Court, criminal penalties are not specifically regulated under the criminal jurisdiction.
Following the failed coup attempt, the Council of Ministers declared a state of emergency and issued executive orders. The first order shut down a number of public and private institutions and many civil servants were discharged from their positions due to their alleged connection with the coup attempt in order to ensure national security. Further financial measures were adopted to prevent money laundering and the illegal international transfer of assets of the suspected institutions and persons.
Internal corporate investigations are key to combating white collar crime and the monitoring of personal and corporate communications is an indispensable tool in this regard. While Turkey has no specific or well-developed legislation on monitoring employee emails in internal investigations, a recent Constitutional Court decision has clarified a number of relevant points.
The court of peace recently appointed the former partner of a liquidated company as a gratuitous bailee to preserve the company's books. The decision created an alternative approach to the preservation of the books of liquidated companies, which must be preserved by a court of peace. The new approach should help to address concerns regarding the court's limited amount of storage space for company books.
A recent Court of Appeals case concerned a resolution taken at a general assembly meeting where the signature of the shareholder plaintiff's representative had been forged. As it was established without doubt that the signature on the general assembly meeting minutes did not belong to the plaintiff's representative, the court declared that the decisions taken at the general assembly were null and void.
Turkey stands out as a target market for US companies that want to expand their global reach due to its geographical location, growing population and economy. Having subsidiaries and establishing a distribution system via third-party agents in Turkey means the risk of exposure to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Six recent cases involved Turkish parties and five of these involved subsidiaries or third-party agents.
In order for an invoice to generate a payment obligation on its recipient, Turkish law requires that there be an obligatory relationship between the drafter and recipient. A recent case confirmed that even when the recipient of an invoice does not object to it and inadvertently records it in its accounting books, this does not result in a payment obligation unless the invoice has a legal basis.
The recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments and arbitral awards in Turkey is subject to the International Private and Civil Procedure Law, under which enforcement actions must be filed before the civil courts of first instance, including certain specialised courts. The Court of Appeals has generally adopted a single approach regarding the jurisdiction of specialised courts in enforcement actions, but a recent decision has created uncertainty in that regard.