Product safety and liability

Safety and environmental

What are the most relevant automotive-related product compliance safety and environmental regulations, and how are they enforced? Are there specific rules for product recalls?

As part of Turkey’s EU harmonisation process, the Turkish legislation on product compliance safety and the environment has been adapted to conform to EU legislation within the framework of the Turkey-EU Association Council Decision (ACD) No. 1/95 of 6 March 1995, which establishes a Customs Union among EU member states and Turkey. The primary goal of applicable Turkish legislation is to protect consumers from potentially dangerous and harmful products, and to ensure that businesses place safe and compliant products on the market. The Ministry of Economy regulates compliance and conducts market surveillance through related regulations implemented by other relevant ministries. The most relevant automotive-related product safety and environmental regulation is the Market Surveillance and Inspection Regulation of Automotive Products dated 22 February 2018, which regulates automotive products through the Ministry of Science, Industry and Technology within the scope of the Law on the Preparation and Implementation of the Technical Legislation on Products, No. 4703.

The Ministry of Science, Industry and Technology is responsible for supervising and investigating technical compliance of vehicles with the Market Surveillance and Inspection Regulation of Automotive Products during the market distribution, import, export and assembly processes. While the Regional Directorates carry out market surveillance activities, the central unit of the Ministry of Science, Industry and Technology deals with policy development, programming and monitoring of these surveillance activities. The most significant market surveillance activities carried out by Regional Directorates are product recalls.

Obligatory recall process

Pursuant to the Market Surveillance and Inspection Regulation of Automotive Products, within the scope of an obligatory recall, if a vehicle is determined non-compliant, the manufacturer must submit a corrective action plan to a Regional Directorate within 30 days and implement such plan within one year if approved. If the plan is not approved by the Regional Directorate, or the manufacturer fails to submit an appropriate plan or fails to implement the plan, administrative fines up to 286,175 lira will be imposed on the manufacturer. Extensions will not be granted for implementing the corrective plan unless the malfunction was not the manufacturer’s fault.

Voluntary recall process

If a manufacturer detects non-compliance before an administrative authority does, a voluntary recall procedure must be implemented to avoid administrative fines, which can be substantial. In the event of a voluntary recall, the manufacturer will make a submission to a Regional Directorate including all necessary documentation and make an estimation as to how long it will take to conclude the recall process. The Regional Directorate may grant a maximum of one year for the finalisation of the recall transactions. Extensions will not be granted if the corrective plan’s failure to be implemented on time is the fault of the manufacturer. The voluntary recall must be announced on the Ministry of Science, Industry and Technology’s website and separate notices made to vehicle owners including detailed information on recall process, technical non-compliance of the vehicle and contact information of authorised offices. If a vehicle owner does not respond to the notice, a second notice will be made. If the owner fails to respond again, the notice shall be deemed to be duly served.

Product liability and recall

Describe the significance of product liability law, and any key issues specifically relevant to the automotive industry. How relevant are class actions or other consumer litigation in product liability, product recall cases, or other contexts relating to the automotive industry?

Product liability issues constitute the largest number of disputes in this sector. Consumers who claim that a vehicle is defective may exercise the general rights they are afforded under the Turkish Law on Consumer Protection, No. 6502. If it becomes apparent that the vehicle is defective, the consumer may exercise one of the following rights:

  • rescinding the contract and returning the sold vehicle;
  • requesting a discount from the sales price in proportion to the defect and keeping the sold vehicle;
  • requesting a free of charge repair with all expenses borne by the seller, if the repair does not require extensive expense; or
  • requesting replacement of the defective vehicle with a defect-free one, if possible.

The legislation provides a warranty period of two years after the date of sale of a vehicle. If the vehicle contains a manufacturing defect, the consumer may assert the rights listed above, even if the warranty period has passed. Furthermore, certain spare parts may have different statutory warranty periods.

Although recall cases are not very common in Turkey, pursuant to the Market Surveillance and Inspection Regulation of Automotive Products, Regional Directorates of the Ministry of Science, Industry and Technology conduct recall processes for vehicles deemed unsafe or non-compliant with technical regulations (see question 7 for more detail). Having said that, separate from the recall process, if a consumer claims that the vehicle is not in compliance with applicable technical regulations, the case is deemed a matter of product liability and examined by consumer courts within the scope of the Turkish Law on Consumer Protection.

Although the Turkish Civil Procedure Code allows a type of class action by associations or other entities on behalf of their members or groups whose interests they represent, in practice, class actions are not common for defective goods in Turkey.