Enacted in 1926 (only three years after the young Republic of
Turkey was founded), Law no. 805 on Mandatory Use of the Turkish
Language for Corporations ("Law no.
805") requires all Turkish companies and enterprises
to execute agreements they conclude in Turkey with other Turkish
entities or individuals in the Turkish language.
Law no. 805 also requires foreign companies to use Turkish in
their transactions and correspondence with Turkish
entities1 and any documents submitted to governmental
authorities in Turkey. The law allows foreign entities to use a
different language for these purposes, in addition to Turkish;
adding, however, that the Turkish version prevails over the foreign
The Law provides explicitly that any documents not adhering to
these formal requirements will not be taken into consideration to
the benefit of the non-complying company or enterprise.
Although not annulled or superseded by any other laws, there has
been some confusion in legal circles over whether this strict 1926
law is still enforced in Turkish courts. Two consecutive decisions
of the Turkish Court of Appeals dated 2006 and 2009, regarding a
lawsuit filed by a Turkish bank customer in Istanbul show that,
indeed, Law no. 805 is still very much in force.
While the bank customer argued that the spot/forward exchange
agreement between the bank (also a Turkish entity) and the customer
was invalid as it was executed in English and no translations were
provided to the customer; the local court dismissed the lawsuit on
the ground that the bank customer, who held a high-limit account in
the bank, should have been aware of the type of transaction
conducted with the bank. The Court of Appeals overruled this
decision in 2006, stating that the bank may not rely on the
validity of the spot/forward exchange agreement which was solely
executed in English – with explicit reference to Law no.
The local court complied with the Court of Appeals' decision
and accepted the bank customer's claims in 2008. When the local
court decision was appealed again (this time by the bank), the
Court of Appeals approved the decision in 2009, referring again to
Law no. 805.
1. Law No. 805 does not specifically refer to
"agreements" under the article concerning foreign
entities. This omission indicates that the Law no. 805 allows the
execution of an agreement between a foreign entity and a Turkish
entity in a foreign language.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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