COVID-19 and Turkish measures in relation to dispute resolution

Posted in COVID-19 Corporate, M&A and securities

The COVID-19 outbreak has had an impact on dispute resolution and enforcement proceedings, before courts, arbitration centers and enforcement/bankruptcy offices around the world. Please see below for a summary outlining current dispute resolution-related COVID-19 measures in Turkey.

National courts and enforcement/bankruptcy proceedings

Pursuant to the Council of Judges and Prosecutors’ (Hakimler ve Savcılar Kurulu) decision dated April 30, 2020, all non-emergency court hearings are postponed to a date later than June 15, 2020.

Pursuant to the Presidential Decree numbered 2480 published on the Official Gazette on April 30, 2020 (the “Decree”), the following nationwide measures regarding enforcement and bankruptcy proceedings, excluding child support payments, will be in place until June 15, 2020: 

  • All ongoing enforcement and bankruptcy proceedings have been suspended.
  • New enforcement and bankruptcy proceedings cannot be initiated.
  • Interim attachment decisions will not be executed.

Stay of proceedings would affect enforcement of security, which need to be foreclosed through execution offices.

In addition to the stay/postponement of proceedings, time periods regarding origination, exercise and termination of any rights including the statute of limitations or prescription terms for initiating a lawsuit or enforcement proceeding, filing an application, complaint or objection, sending notices are stayed until June 15, 2020 pursuant to the Decree.

Statutory time periods under the enforcement and bankruptcy legislation or deadlines imposed by execution/bankruptcy offices or judges are also stayed until June 15, 2020, to protect parties’ rights and interests.

Arbitral institutions

Istanbul Chamber of Commerce Arbitration and Mediation Centre (İstanbul Ticaret Odası Tahkim ve Arabuluculuk Merkezi - ITOTAM)

ITOTAM staff have been working remotely  as of March 23, 2020, and are available by email and by phone. File submissions will be carried out via both email and courier. Payment of any sums due to ITOTAM are to only be made electronically.

Even though the measures imposed by the Decree do not cover institutional arbitration, ITOTAM has adopted the same measures and announced on its website that all deadlines regarding existing arbitral proceedings or mediation processes, as well as other deadlines ordered by arbitrators, mediators or the ITOTAM Secretariat, will be stayed until June 15, 2020. During the stay period, parties can submit a request for arbitration but the 30-day window to receive an answer to such a request will not commence until after June 15, 2020. In case of need, parties can resort to an emergency arbitrator during the stay period.

Istanbul Arbitration Centre (İstanbul Tahkim Merkezi – ISTAC)

With the publication of the ISTAC Online Arbitral Hearing Rules and Procedures on its website, it is now possible to hold ISTAC hearings through teleconference or videoconference. ISTAC Online Arbitral Hearing Rules and Procedures provide rules for, among others, submission of documents during online hearings, witness or expert participation and recording of online hearings.

Click here to view Norton Rose Fulbright’s global study on COVID-19 and how other major jurisdictions maintain hearing dates in existing disputes and plan for the progress of dispute resolution proceedings.

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