The Regulation Regarding the Arbitration Committee For Consumers (“Regulation”) was came into effect on November 27, 2014. The Regulation is prepared in accordance with the Articles 72 and 84 of the Law on Consumer Protection No. 6502 (“LCP”) which was came into effect on November 7, 2013. The new Regulation sets out the establishment and working principles and procedures of Arbitration Committees for Consumers.
Arbitration Committees for Consumers are independent bodies which are responsible for the out-of-court settlement of consumer disputes. They were established mainly with the aim of providing simple and inexpensive means for the resolution of consumer disputes arising from the application of the LPC. Arbitration Committees for Consumers were introduced by Article 66 of the LPC. The procedural rules and principles regarding the establishment and operation of Arbitration Committees were laid down by the Regulation, which are as follows:
A. Composition of Arbitration Committees for Consumers
The Regulation makes it the responsibility of the Ministry of Customs and Trade to set up at least one Arbitration Committee in the capital of each province and district. Each Arbitration Committee consists of five members, including the president. The Director of Customs and Trade of the province, or an officer appointed by him, is the president of the Committee. Where the provincial organization of the Ministry of Customs and Trade does not exist, the presidency of the Committee will be held by the highest administrative officer or a civil servant assigned by him. Of the other members of the Committee, one is appointed by the Mayor of the Municipality from among the staff of the Municipality, one by the Bar Association from among its members, one by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry or by the Chamber of Artisans and Craftsmen and one by the Consumer Organizations. The members appointed by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Chamber of Artisans and Craftsmen participate in the Committee as alternates, depending on whether the other party to the dispute is a tradesman or an artisan or craftsman. Also, consumer organizations are entitled to elect a member to represent them on the Committee. If the Committee cannot be constituted as prescribed by the Regulation, Municipal Councils are authorised to appoint the members ex officio. The members of the Committee, except the president, serve three-year terms of duty.
B. Territorial Jurisdiction of Arbitration Committees for Consumers
A provincial Arbitration Committee for Consumers has jurisdiction only within the boundaries of the capital of that province; a district Arbitration Committee has jurisdiction only within the boundaries of that district. In cases where a province is governed by a Metropolitan Municipality, the Arbitration Committee of the capital of the province can only deal with disputes where the value of the claim is not below than the value which is determined, and announced by the Ministry of Customs and Trade every year. Disputes involving an amount below this limit must be brought before the Arbitration Committees of the districts within the boundaries of that Metropolitan Municipality.
A consumer may bring the dispute before an Arbitration Committee either where he has purchased the goods or the service or in the place of his domicile. The same rule will apply even when the other party commences the proceedings. If a dispute is brought before more than one Arbitration Committee, a defense that a proceeding is already pending may be raised by the other party. In this case, the second Committee must then refuse to deal with the case.
C. Area of Operation
Arbitration Committees for Consumers are empowered to deal with all disputes arising from the application of the LPC and the Regulation, with the exception of those which fall within the jurisdiction of Consumer Courts.
The limits of the authority of Arbitration Committees are determined by the Committee’s area of operation, which is limited to matters within the scope of the LPC and the Regulation, with the exception of those cases which are specifically assigned to Consumer Courts by the LPC.
Where one party is a consumer and the other party is a seller providing goods or, a supplier rendering a service as defined in the LPC, the LPC governs their contract. If a dispute arises from such a contract, it falls within the judicial power of the Arbitration Committees for Consumers if the value of the claim is below the monetary limits. On the other hand, in a contract where both parties act in the course of a trade or profession, the LPC is not applicable. Therefore, disputes arising from such contracts cannot be brought before the Arbitration Committees for Consumers.
D. Judicial Power of Arbitration Committees for Consumers in Terms of Value of the Claim
The LPC sets a monetary limit and grants judicial power to Arbitration Committees for Consumers only where a dispute involves a value below the relevant limit. Disputes brought to the arbitration committees;
- involving a value of below 2.000 TL will be held by the district arbitration committees,
- where the province has a Metropolitan Municipality and involving a value of between 2.000 TL – 3.000 TL will be held by provincal arbitration committees ,
- where the province has no Metropolitan Municipality and involving a value of below 3.000 TL will held by provincal arbitration committees,
- where the district is within the boundaries of a province which has no Metropolitan Municipality and involving a value between 2.000 TL – 3.000 TL will be held by provincial arbitration committees.
However, the said monetary limit is determined each year at the end of December, and is announced in the Official Gazette in December by the Ministry of Customs and Trade.
If the claim is valued at an amount equal to or more than the monetary limit, a claimant is not required to bring the dispute before the Arbitration Committee for Consumers, and if he desires to obtain an enforceable decision, he must bring the dispute in a Consumer Court.
The Turkish language text of the Regulation can be found at the following link: http://www.resmigazete.gov.tr/eskiler/2014/11/20141127-8.htm