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Mandatory coverage

What maritime risks must be covered under the law and what is the mandatory level of coverage?

Turkish law requires commercial and public purpose ships engaged in the domestic carriage of passengers to have liability insurance. Further, companies that operate in coastal waters which may cause sea pollution must have liability insurance.

Insurable risks and ships

What other risks are typically covered by marine insurance contracts concluded in your jurisdiction and what ships are insurable?

Ships either imported from or built (within one year) in another country, ships built or repaired in Turkey and ships which are over 300 gross tonnes that arrive in Turkish ports must have a protection and indemnity insurance. Further, ships that deliver bunker must have insurance cover for pollution liability.

Subrogation rights

What is the legal regime governing marine insurers’ subrogation rights?

The Commercial Code governs the legal regime for insurers’ subrogation rights. Under Turkish law, the insurer can make a claim in its own name in respect of any payment made to the insured under the policy, provided that it can demonstrate the payment made and that it has become subrogated to the insured’s rights.

Marine accidents

Collision and pollution

What rules and procedures (under both domestic and international law) apply to the prevention of, liability for and remedy of:

(a) Collision?

The main legislation regulating liability arising out of collisions at sea is the Commercial Code. The relevant provisions are based on the 1910 Collision Convention, to which Turkey is party. Article 1286 of the code stipulates that the collision provisions will be applied in cases where two or more ships collide and compensation is sought for:

  • physical damage to the ships;
  • loss and damage to the respective shipowners; and
  • loss and damage to people and cargo on board either or both ships.

Further, Turkey is a party to the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea.

(b) Oil pollution?

Turkey is party to several international conventions on the protection of the environment, including:

  • the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships;
  • the Civil Liability Convention 1992;
  • the Fund Convention 1992; and
  • the International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage 2001.

Further, there is detailed and rather strict local legislation under the Environmental Code and the Law on the Principles of Emergency Action and Indemnification of Losses in the Pollution of the Marine Environment by Oil and Other Hazardous Substances. 

(c) Other environmental damage caused by a ship?

Please see above. 


What is the legal regime governing salvage and general average?

There is a monopoly area which covers the Turkish Straits and the Marmara Sea, with regard to the provision of salvage services to vessels using those waters. Salvage services in the monopoly area are rendered by the General Directorate of Coastal Safety. The monopoly right granted to the Coastal Safety Directorate has been debated for a long time; however, the state continues to refuse to lift the monopoly on various grounds. State salvors render salvage services pursuant to the terms and conditions of the Turkish Open Form.

From a legal perspective, salvage matters are regulated by the Commercial Code, which is based on the International Convention on Salvage 1989. Pursuant to Article 1300, the master of a vessel has the right to enter into a salvage agreement with the salvors on behalf of the ship and cargo. Unless agreed otherwise, a salvage reward may be claimed only if the salvage efforts have resulted in full or partial success.

The special compensation stipulated in Article 14 of the Salvage Convention 1989 has been incorporated into the new Commercial Code.

Wreck removal

What rules and procedures apply to the removal of wrecks in your jurisdiction?

Works are underway for Turkey to become a party to the Nairobi Convention but currently there are no specific rules regarding the removal of wrecks. However, the Turkish Harbours Code contains provisions with regard to wreck removal under which the powers and duties of harbour masters have been increased significantly by a recent amendment.

Under what circumstances can the authorities order removal of wreckage?

In practice and according to the Environmental Code, any wreck that poses a threat to the safety of marine traffic or the environment must be removed. If the persons liable do not remove the wreck, the same will be removed by the relevant administrative body and the wreck removal costs will be claimed from the persons liable.

Places of refuge

What framework governs access to places of refuge for ships in distress?

Where the safety of life is involved, the International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue applies. Where the safety of property is involved, relevant International Maritime Organisation resolutions are considered to be guidelines. However, granting access to a place of refuge could involve a political decision, which are made on a case-by-case basis.

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