The Turkish Constitutional Court recently considered a claim
that a land expropriation violated the applicant's right to a
fair trial due to the judgment processes lasting five years and ten
months during administrative procedures. The Constitutional Court
held that the applicant's rights have been violated by the
judgement process not being completed within a reasonable period of
The applicant sought to annul a decision regarding expropriation
of his land which was made for the purposes of investing in
housing, industry, education, health and tourism and establishing
public facilities. Before the Constitutional Court, the applicant
claimed his rights to a fair trial and property rights have been
violated on the basis that:
The expropriation's purpose was not clearly stated and
accordingly there were no public interests involved.
Decisions by the court of first instance and Council of
Ministers do not contain any concrete reasoning.
Disagreements about the expropriation price mean that an
expropriation performed below the property's real value would
contradict the expropriation's purpose.
A judgement on the dispute was not issued within a reasonable
period of time.
Under Article 80 of the Constitution, the state and other public
legal entities can expropriate private property, provided the
property's real value is paid and the expropriation is made
pursuant to laws and in the public interests. The Law on Land
Development and Utilization empowers the Land Office General
Directorate (and Housing Development Administration of Turkey
("TOKI") to expropriate land for the purposes of
investing in housing, industry, education, health and tourism and
establishing public facilities.
In the case at hand, the Constitutional Court held despite TOKI
failing to clearly state the expropriation purpose (referring to
all legislative purposes as a whole), this does not necessarily
mean there are no public interests involved, nor render the
Expropriations made below the real property value will
constitute an excessive interference with property rights under the
proportionality principle (Article 13 of the Constitution),
exceeding any intended public interests associated with the
expropriation. In this case, the Constitutional Court held that no
violation of property rights occurred in this respect because TOKI
paid the applicant the court-determined expropriation price.
The Constitutional Court adopted a similar stance to previous
decisions regarding the right to fair trial, where a judgment is
not issued within a reasonable time. The Constitutional Court
referred to its past decisions on the issue, as well as decisions
by the European Court of Human Rights. The court held that a
judgement process lasting five years and ten months constituted a
violation of the applicant's right to a fair trial.
The full text of the Constitutional Court's reasoned
decision (2013/395, dated 10 June 2015) was published in Official
Gazette number 29479 on 18 September 2015 and can be found at
this link (only available in Turkish).
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