Any person who is injured in their business or property by reason of an antitrust violation can sue the violators for three times their damages (treble damages) plus litigation costs and attorney fees (Articles 57 et seq. of Law No. 4054 on the Protection of Competition). Turkey is one of the exceptional jurisdictions where a treble damages clause exists in the law. Thanks to the treble damages opportunity, recent enforcement trends have witnessed an increase in private antitrust litigations lately.
There is no antitrust law specific court in Turkey. Therefore, the case must be brought before the competent general civil courts that have jurisdiction over treble damages cases. The courts apply the Code of Obligations, the Commercial Code and Code of Civil Procedure in reviewing claims for treble damages. In practice, the courts usually do not engage in an analysis as to whether there is an actual condemnable antitrust violations and wait for the Turkish Competition Board ("Board") to render its opinion on the matter, thereby treating the issue as a prejudicial question.
The treble damages opportunity is granted only to the losses suffered as a result of antitrust violations, which are determined by the Board per Law No. 4054 on the Protection of Competition ("Competition Law"). Therefore, serious procedural questions arise in practice. Examples include statute of limitations, conflicting awards and jurisdiction. Most courts wait for the Board to render its decision on the merits so they can build their own decision based on the Board's decision.
The majority of private lawsuits in Turkish antitrust enforcement rely on refusal to supply allegations. Having said that, in 12 Banks decision (08.03.2013; 13-13/198-100), the Board initiated an investigation to determine as to whether 12 banks violated Article 4 of Law No. 4054 by a reconciliation to harmonize their trade terms for cash deposit interests, credits, and credit card fees. The Board further to its assessment decided to impose an administrative monetary fines ranging between 0.3% and 1.5% to investigated undertakings. Furthermore, the Board ruled that courts shall have absolute discretion to award treble damages in Competition Law-based damages claims, establishing a strong deterrent from cartel activity. In this respect, in light of the Board's decision, Istanbul 12th Consumer Court on May 9, 2017 awarded single damages up to an intimidating total of TL 11,479.73 to a single plaintiff (approximately €1,710.84 at the time of the decision).