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Bulletin Details

Evaluation of the Supreme Court Decision: Fundamental Right Access to Justice and Breach of Right to Trial in Reasonable Time

In its decision dated 22/02/2022, the Constitutional Court examined the applicant's unquantified debt lawsuit arising from the employment contract, after the Supreme Court accepted the case as determinable, and concluded that this decision was not appropriate.
In the concrete case, the Applicant filed an action against the Municipality with the demand of payment of his receivables arising from the collective labour agreement. The Applicant filed an action of unquantified debt requesting 6.539,68 TL of bonus and wage before Odemis Civil Court of First Instance. However, following the three expert reports, it was determined that the total compensation which should be paid to the Applicant was 10.265,35 TL. Then, the Applicant adjusted his request to 11.745 TL on 13/10/2015 and the Court of First Instance partially accepted this request and decided on payment of 8.827,97 TL. Therefore, The Municipality appealed for correction and the Supreme Court Civil Chamber no 22 decided that Applicant’s request was determinable so that it could not be a subject to the action of unquantified debt. In addition, The Court stated that there was no legal interest for this action and refused the case based on procedural law. The Odemis Civil Court of First Instance ruled in line with the Supreme Court’s decision and the Applicant appealed against it. However, the Supreme Court uphold the Odemis Civil Court decision again. Finally, the Applicant appealed to the Constitutional Court on 05/04/2019.
The Constitutional Court examined this case under two headlines: in terms of the fundamental right access to justice and in terms of the breach of right to trial in reasonable time.
I-Fundamental Right Access To Justice:
The reason for the Applicant to claim that there is a breach of fundamental right access to justice with the Court of Appeal’s decision, by refusing the case based on procedural law, is that it prevents him to file a new lawsuit on this topic again. Therefore, The Supreme Court uphold the claim of the Applicant and stated that Civil Court of First Instance’s decision is an infringement. In this case, this decision is based on the lack of cause of action. The Civil Court underlines that there is no legal interest on filing an action of unquantified debt for requesting a calculable debt instead of filing an action of performance against the Municipality. The element that distinguishes the action of unquantified debt from an action of performance is that the result of the request is not caught in the prohibition of extension of the lawsuit. However, there is no difference between the two in terms of determining the existence of the debt and condemning the other party to pay it. In the case of action of unquantified debt, suspension of prescription is the same in terms of all and suspension of prescription is possible. Since the lawsuit of unquantified debt is also a case of performance, it is considered impossible that there is no legal benefit. Moreover, filing  an action of performance does not have more benefits for the Applicant than the other lawsuit. However, it is considered not the same as not being able to file an action of unquantified debt that does not meet the strict procedural cause of action and not having a legal interest. The main reason for refusal on procedural law is to encourage the applicant to a more accurate judicial remedy.
In addition, the Supreme Court evaluated the case in terms of principle of proportionality. Thereby, it decided that the refusal based on procedural law is not the ultimate remedy and it is not proportionate because of its consequences for the Applicant. 
Within the framework of article 119 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1 week period could be given by the judge in order to complete the request on the previous petition. Therefore, this proves that there are alternative remedies. Many powers have been given to the judge to correct the petition due to the procedural law. In addition, if it was accepted as a case of performance, the right of access would have been secured.
The consequences of filing an action of unquantified debt by mistake prevented the Applicant from benefiting from the consequences of general act of performance in the first place.
II-The Breach of Right To Trial In Reasonable Time:

The Applicant claimed that his right to trial in a reasonable time was violated due to the prolonged trial. The Supreme Court stated that, 4 years 11 months 16 days period is not reasonable. Also, The Court underlined that it is required to rejudge and compensate the moral damage of 10.000 TL in order to remove the consequences of the violation.