The Istanbul Arbitration Centre (ISTAC) has provided dispute resolution services to Turkish and foreign entities through arbitration and other alternative dispute resolution processes since the introduction of the ISTAC Arbitration and Mediation Rules in 2015. The Global Arbitration Review has listed ISTAC among the institutions worth a closer look, and this recognition has strengthened its aspiration to become a regional hub for dispute resolution for companies and individuals from Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
In 2015 the 15th Chamber of the Court of Appeals held that courts cannot grant a preliminary attachment on the ground of a foreign court judgment, unless this judgment had been enforced in Turkey. The court's reasoning was that foreign court judgments and foreign arbitral awards can be executed in Turkey only if and when they are enforced in Turkey. However, a dissenting opinion in this decision stated that courts can grant a preliminary injunction before an enforcement decision has been finalised.
In both domestic and international arbitrations in Turkey, parties are, in principle, free to choose their arbitrators. However, there are limits in this regard, including where the parties are of different nationalities. The Court of Appeals recently rendered an important decision in this regard, which provides an objective standard of proof for assessing doubts with regard to the independence and impartiality of arbitrators.
Cryptocurrencies were introduced to the Turkish market in July 2013 under the Law on Payment and Security Settlement Systems, Payment Services and Electronic Money. However, there are no limitations on or controls over cryptocurrencies, which is why many investors choose to invest their money in this area. While the interest in and impact of blockchain and cryptocurrencies are growing daily, the legal risks for blockchain and cryptocurrency platforms have yet to be fully understood.
In an effort to improve collateralisation options and facilitate the access of small and medium-sized businesses to financing, Parliament recently adopted a new law introducing significant changes to pledges over movable assets. The law introduces easier procedures for establishing a pledge over movable assets, such as through registration instead of transferring possession.
The Law on the Amendment of Some Laws to Improve the Investment Environment introduces new provisions regarding the issuance of cheques and bounced cheques. The omnibus act amends the Commercial Code and introduces a serial number issued by the bank and a two-dimensional barcode to the mandatory elements on cheques. Further, banks now have extended obligations regarding the opening of cheque accounts.
The recent amendments introduced to the Notification Law have significantly broadened the scope of parties for which electronic notification is compulsory. Prior to the amendments, electronic notification was compulsory only for joint stock companies, limited liability companies and limited partnerships with capital divided into shares. In contrast, following the amendments, electronic notification is now compulsory for a wide range of real persons and legal entities.
The Law amending Certain Laws to Improve the Investment Environment was published in the Official Gazette on March 10 2018 with different enforcement dates for the various amendments. The amendments introduced to the Commercial Code and other related legislation are expected to result in a move towards using trade registries in the incorporation procedure, which should accelerate the process.
Under the Commercial Code 6102, shareholders must contribute capital to commercial companies incorporated by law (the so-called 'contribution obligation'). A contribution obligation mainly arises at the time of the incorporation of or the capital increase in a commercial company. Shareholders generally prefer fulfilling their contribution obligations in cash and their liability is limited to the amount that they subscribed for under a company's articles of association.
Following the entry into force of the Law Introducing Several Amendments in Different Laws to Improve the Investment Environment in August 2016, the Communique Regarding the Signing of the Articles of Association Before the Trade Registries has now taken effect. The communique sets out the procedures to be followed when incorporation documents are signed or executed before the trade registries.
Amendments were recently introduced to the Commercial Code with the aim of fostering investment in Turkey following recent political instability and the resulting uncertainty among investors. The amendments to the Commercial Code seek to expedite incorporation procedures for companies, reduce the relating notary public costs and foster transparency.
The Competition Board recently published its reasoned decision following a preliminary investigation into allegations that Jotun Boya Sanayi ve Ticaret AŞ had violated Article 4 of Law 4054 on the Protection of Competition. The allegations concerned claims that Jotun had determined the resale prices and sales conditions of authorised dealers and restricted their online sales through a prohibitive provision in its dealership agreements.
The Competition Board recently published its reasoned decision following a preliminary investigation into allegations that Teknosa had violated Law 4054 on the Protection of Competition by restricting İklimSA distributors from selling to the complainant. It was claimed that Teknosa had instructed İklimSA that if its products were sold to the complainant, Teknosa would halt the payment of distribution premiums and end its commercial relationship with İklimSA.
The Competition Board recently published a reasoned decision following its preliminary investigation into whether Yataş Yorgan ve Yatak San ve Tic AŞ had violated Article 4 of Law 4054 on the Protection of Competition. The allegations concerned the claim that Yataş had, through its best price guarantee campaign, restricted competition by acting in cooperation with independent retailers or pressuring them with abusive pricing policies.
The Competition Board recently published its reasoned decision on the Tyre Industrialist Association's application for an exemption for its Waste Management Strategies and Implementation Plan for Worn-out Tyres 2016 to 2020. The board decided that the association's proposal would not limit competition in a manner which would violate Law 4054 on the Protection of Competition and granted an individual five-year exemption.
Following an 18-month investigation, the Competition Board recently found that Mey İçki held a dominant position in the vodka and gin markets. However, the board had already examined Mey İçki's alleged practices and imposed penalties in its earlier decision on the raki market. As such, the board accepted the non bis in idem defence and concluded that Mey İçki should not be subject to an administrative fine.
The Labour Courts Act has introduced a number of changes and amended the appeal procedure for labour disputes. The legislature hopes to shorten the duration of actions which, by their nature, should be resolved as quickly as possible. Although it is still questionable whether these amendments will produce the anticipated returns in terms of reaching the desired duration for trial processes, they mark an important attempt to limit the two-phase appeal stage for certain cases.
The Amendment Act of August 25 2016 introduced the automatic enrolment of employees in private pension plans. As a result, employees under the age of 45 must be enrolled in a private pension plan as part of a pension agreement between their employer and a pension company. As the majority of employees have withdrawn from the system, the Ministry of Finance recently prepared a draft omnibus law which introduced new provisions regarding automatic enrolment in the private pension plan system.
Overtime in Turkey is regulated by the Labour Act and the Regulation on Overtime. Following criticism from legal scholars, the Regulation on Overtime was recently amended. The amendment has clarified that an employee's written consent for overtime can be obtained through an employment contract or during the employment relationship if needed. Therefore, obtaining employee consent at the beginning of each year is no longer required.
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.
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.