Electronic contracts, also known as e-contracts, have become increasingly common with the advent of digital technology and the growth of e-commerce. In Turkey, electronic contracts are governed by several laws and regulations, ensuring that they are legally valid and enforceable. This overview will provide detailed information on the legal framework surrounding electronic contracts in Turkey, highlighting key aspects and requirements to help businesses and individuals understand their rights and obligations.
1. Law on the Regulation of Electronic Commerce (E-Commerce Law)
The primary legislation governing electronic contracts in Turkey is the Law on the Regulation of Electronic Commerce (Law No. 6563). This law sets out the general principles and requirements for entering into electronic contracts, which include:
- Legal recognition: Electronic contracts are legally recognized and valid, provided that the parties have agreed to use electronic means and the contract fulfills all legal requirements.
- Formation and validity: An electronic contract is formed when the offer and acceptance are exchanged between the parties through electronic means. The contract is considered valid if the parties have the legal capacity to enter into the agreement and the subject matter is legal and possible.
- Storage and accessibility: Electronic contracts must be stored by the service provider (typically the seller) for a minimum period of three years. Additionally, the service provider must ensure that the consumer can access and review the contract at any time during this period.
2. Turkish Code of Obligations
The Turkish Code of Obligations (Law No. 6098) is another crucial piece of legislation that
governs contracts, including electronic contracts, in Turkey. While the E-Commerce Law sets out the specific rules for electronic contracts, the Turkish Code of Obligations provides the general principles and provisions applicable to all contracts. Some key aspects of the Turkish Code of Obligations that apply to electronic contracts include:
- Freedom of contract: Parties are generally free to enter into contracts and determine the terms and conditions of their agreement, provided that they do not violate public order, morality, or mandatory provisions of the law.
- Good faith: All contracts, including electronic contracts, must be performed and interpreted in good faith.
- Liability: Parties are responsible for fulfilling their contractual obligations, and failure to do so may result in liability for damages.
3. Consumer Protection Law
The Consumer Protection Law (Law No. 6502) also plays a significant role in electronic contracts, particularly when the contract involves a consumer. This law provides additional protections for consumers and imposes specific obligations on businesses when entering into electronic contracts. Some of the main provisions of the Consumer Protection Law relevant to electronic contracts include:
- Pre-contractual information: Before entering into an electronic contract, businesses must provide consumers with clear and comprehensible information regarding the goods or services, the total price, delivery and payment terms, and the consumer's right to cancel the contract.
- Right of withdrawal: Consumers have the right to withdraw from electronic contracts without providing any reason within 14 days from the date of receipt of the goods or services. Businesses are required to inform consumers of this right and provide them with a withdrawal form.
- Refunds and returns: If a consumer exercises its right of withdrawal, the business must refund all payments received from the consumer within 14 days from the date of receiving the notice of withdrawal. The consumer must return the goods within ten days from the date of withdrawal.
4. Personal Data Protection Law (PDPL)
While not specifically focused on electronic contracts, the Personal Data Protection Law (Law No. 6698) is relevant when personal data is collected, processed, or stored as part of an electronic contract. The PDPL sets out the principles and requirements for processing personal data, including obtaining explicit consent from the data subject, providing adequate security measures, and ensuring data accuracy and purpose limitation. Some key considerations of the PDPL in the context of electronic contracts include:
- Explicit consent: Before collecting and processing personal data in relation to an electronic contract, businesses must obtain explicit consent from the data subject (e.g., the consumer). This consent must be freely given, specific, informed, and unambiguous.
- Data processing principles: Personal data must be processed lawfully, fairly, and transparently, ensuring that it is accurate, relevant, and limited to what is necessary for the purpose of the electronic contract.
- Data subject rights: Data subjects have the right to access, rectify, erase, and object to the processing of their personal data. Businesses must establish mechanisms for data subjects to exercise these rights and respond to their requests without undue delay.
- Security measures: Businesses must implement appropriate technical and organizational measures to protect personal data against unauthorized access, loss, or destruction.
5. Regulation on the Procedures and Principles of Distance Contracts
The Regulation on the Procedures and Principles of Distance Contracts, which supplements the Consumer Protection Law, provides more detailed provisions regarding electronic contracts involving consumers. Some of the main requirements under this regulation include:
- Standard information form: Businesses must provide a standard information form to consumers before entering into an electronic contract, detailing the main characteristics of the goods or services, the identity and contact information of the business, the total price, and any additional costs.
- Confirmation of receipt: Businesses must acknowledge receipt of the consumer's order without undue delay through electronic means, such as email or SMS.
- Technical tools: Businesses must provide consumers with the necessary technical tools to identify and correct any errors in their order before submitting it.
In Turkey, electronic contracts are governed by a combination of laws and regulations, including the E-Commerce Law, the Turkish Code of Obligations, the Consumer Protection Law, the PDPL, and the Regulation on the Procedures and Principles of Distance Contracts. These legal frameworks aim to ensure that electronic contracts are legally valid and enforceable while providing additional protections for consumers.
To ensure compliance with the relevant legislation, it is highly recommended that businesses and individuals consult with experienced legal professionals to ensure their electronic contracts comply with Turkish law and to stay updated on any legislative changes that may impact their operations.
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.