Turkey: Changes in Appellate Review System

The current Law on Civil Procedures (the "LCP") No. 6100 entered into force on October 1st, 2011, but the new appellate procedures introduced by the Law No. 5235 on September 26th, 2004 and repeated in the LCP had not entered into force, because regional courts of justice ("RCJ") had not yet been established and were not operational. Now finally, on July 20th, 2016, regional courts of justice have become operational, allowing the new appellate procedures to enter into force. This has changed the one-tier appellate review system constituted by merely the appellate review of Court of Appeals into a two-tiered appellate review system where appellate review will be conducted by RCJ before review in the Court of Appeals.

1. The Main Difference in Post-Judgment Proceedings

As mentioned above, the new system has brought a two-tiered appellate review system. The main difference in this new system is that a new tier, namely appellate review to be conducted by RCJ, has been added to the appellate review system before the final appellate review in the Court of Appeals. In this respect, the rule is now that decisions in courts of first instance are to be reviewed by the RCJ (instead of Court of Appeals), and the RCJ's rulings on courts of first instance's decisions are to be reviewed by the Court of Appeals, save for certain exceptions.

(i) Courts of First Instance's Decisions Subject to Appellate Review by the RCJ

According to Article 341 of the LCP, decisions of the courts of first instance that can be appealed by parties are as follows: (i) indefinite and ultimate decisions and (ii) interim decisions given further to preliminary injunction requests together with provisional seizures. These decisions are subject to objection before the RCJ within 2 (two) weeks after service of the decision. Apart from the types of decisions indicated in this paragraph, no decision of courts of first instance can be appealed before the RCJ.

That said, decisions having a monetary value below TL 2,190 cannot be subject to appellate review by the RCJ regardless of whether or not they fall under the aforementioned scope. On the other hand, there is no limitation for courts of first instance's decisions that do not concern monetary value.

(ii) RCJ Decisions Subject to Appellate Review by Court of Appeals

The LCP regulates decisions that cannot be subject to appellate review per the numerus clausus principle under Article 362, and therefore, any decision that does not fall under the scope of Article 362 can be subject to appellate review.

Decisions set forth under Article 362 which cannot be appealed are as follows:

a) Decisions relating to a monetary value of TL 25,000 or less,

b) Decisions rendered by courts of settlement as stated in Article 4 of the LCP,

c) Decisions relating to jurisdiction,

d) Decisions rendered with respect to ex parte proceeding,

e) Decisions relating to correction of civil registry (save for paternity lawsuits),

f) Decisions to transfer a lawsuit file due to legal or factual restraint,

g) Decisions relating to temporary legal protections.

2. Upcoming Legal and Need-to-Know Proceedings

The right to appeal courts of first instance's decisions before the RCJ through the new appellate system is granted to all parties of a lawsuit. The lapse of time to request for appellate review before the RCJ is 2 (two) weeks after service of the respective decision from the court of first instance, provided that the legal requirements mentioned above are met.

Furthermore, a petition requesting appellate review must be submitted to the respective court of first instance since the court has the authority to either accept or reject such petitions. However, in case such petitions are rejected, the petitioner also has the right to request appellate review on the rejection decision within 1 (one) week after service thereof.

Additionally, if one party of a lawsuit is entitled to resort to the RCJ while the counterpart is not, the latter's ability to do so will depend on whether or not the other party is resorting to the RCJ. In other words, if one party duly requests an appellate review from the RCJ, the other party may make an appellate request afterwards even though the abovementioned 2 weeks' legal period is over. As per Article 366 of the LCP, the same goes for appellate review of the Court of Appeals.

On a final note, jurisdiction of the RCJ cannot be changed or amended through contracts, meaning that agreements on jurisdictional power of the RCJ are null and void.

3. Structure of the RCJs

Per Article 26 of Law on Establishment, Duties and Powers of First Instance Courts and Regional Courts of Justice No. 5235, the RCJ consists of the following divisions: (i) presidency, (ii) board of presidents (constituted by the presidents of chambers and the RCJ itself), (iii) chambers, (iv) public prosecutor office of the RCJ, (v) commission of justice of the RCJ and (vi) directorates.

So far, only 7 (seven) RCJs have been established and operational since July 20th, 2016, which are as follows:

a) Ankara RCJ (Responsible for 19 cities, with 27 civil and 17 criminal chambers)

b) İstanbul RCJ (Responsible for 9 cities, with 37 civil and 23 criminal chambers)

c) İzmir RCJ (Responsible for 8 cities, with 17 civil and 15 criminal chambers)

d) Antalya RCJ (Responsible for 6 cities, with 12 civil and 11 criminal chambers)

e) Samsun RCJ (Responsible for 9 cities, with 7 civil and 6 criminal chambers)

f) Gaziantep RCJ (Responsible for 15 cities, with 17 civil and 17 criminal chambers)

g) Erzurum RCJ (Responsible for 15 cities, with 6 civil and 5 criminal chambers)

4. Conclusion

The new system brings a two-tiered appellate review procedure into Turkish legislation. Accordingly, decisions of courts of first instance can no longer be appealed directly before the Court of Appeals, as the RCJ is now the first stop for appellate review, followed by the Court of Appeals' review to the extent that it is admissible by the LCP.

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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