Booking.com was found guilty of unfair competition and fined TRY 500,000 (EUR 78,000) in a landmark decision affecting foreign companies in Turkey operating without proper legal status.
Although Booking.com is based internationally, it became subject to a legal review due to Turkish law, which states that all companies operating in Turkey (even via the Turkish net) are subject to administrative and judicial audits.
The media first reported the fine against Booking.com on 18 October 2019 after a Turkish commercial court of first instance rendered a declaratory judgment in the unfair competition case. In finding against Booking.com, the Court stated that its website included advertisements that it considered unfair competition (e.g. a “Best Price Guarantee”) and that these ads also appeared in contracts with hotels.
Additionally, the court sent a copy of its decision to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism for possible administrative sanctions against Booking.com.
In its landmark decision, the Court appears to be directing its attention at foreign companies, and in particular foreign-based e-commerce firms, that are operating in Turkey without permits and licenses and are not paying direct taxes.