Trends and developments

Are there any notable trends or recent legal developments in your jurisdiction’s shipping industry?

The Turkish shipping industry and the shipping community have not escaped the effects of the credit crunch and the fall in the volume of global shipping. As such, the Turkish fleet has steadily declined. There is also a trend among Turkish shipowners to hoist foreign flags despite the government’s attempts to popularise the Turkish flag by offering tax benefits.

The Commercial Code, which covers Turkish shipping law, came into force in 2012 and there have been no substantial legal developments since. With the enactment of the code and ratification of various international conventions, Turkish shipping law has been harmonised with the relevant international regulations.



Which ships are eligible for registration in the national shipping register(s) and which parties may register ships?

Ships that satisfy the conditions under Article 940 of the Commercial Code for hoisting the Turkish flag may be registered with the Turkish National Ship Registry. The registry operates under strict rules in relation to nationality and, among other requirements, only ships owned by Turkish persons or companies with a Turkish majority both in the shareholding and the board membership can be registered in the National Ship Registry.

There is a second registry, the Turkish International Ship Registry, under which ships may be registered if they are owned by:

  • a company incorporated as per Turkish law; or
  • private persons if they reside in Turkey, regardless of the nationality of the shareholders and the board members.

There is also a special registry called the Registry for Ships under Construction.

The fourth and final registry is the registry established for commercial ships of less than 18 gross tonnes and private vessels.


What are the procedural and documentary requirements for registration?

An application to register a ship must be made to the relevant ship registry within the Harbour Master’s Office. Depending on the method of transfer of the ship to one of the Turkish shipping registries, the authorities may require some of the following documents to be presented:

  • a building certificate;
  • a tonnage certificate;
  • the owner’s certificate of good standing;
  • the owner’s articles of association;
  • the owner’s signature circular;
  • information regarding shareholders;
  • an apostilled and translated bill of sale;
  • originals of the deletion certificate (if the deletion certificate cannot be obtained, a free of encumbrances certificate and an undertaking for the submission of the original deletion certificate at a later date);
  • the protocol for delivery and acceptance;
  • a flag certificate; and
  • a custom’s clearance certificate.

Grounds for refusal

On what grounds may a registration application be refused?

If the application does not meet the applicable criteria or include the documents for registration, it may be refused. 


Are there any particular advantages of flying your jurisdiction’s flag?

Trade between Turkish ports can be exercised only by Turkish-flagged vessels fulfilling the criteria stipulated under the Cabotage Code. This provides exclusive privilege to Turkish-flagged vessels to trade within the Turkish waters. Further, earnings from the operation and transfer of vessels registered with the Turkish International Ship Registry are exempt from income and corporate tax. Additionally, contracts for the purchase, sale, mortgage, registration or loan in relation to a vessel registered with the Turkish International Ship Registry are exempt from stamp duty and several other tax duties.

Liens and mortgages


How are encumbrances such as maritime liens and mortgages registered in your jurisdiction and what are the effects of registration?

Encumbrances are registered with the relevant Turkish shipping registry by application, which can be made by either the owner or the entity that will benefit from the encumbrance. In the case of mortgages, the mortgage agreement should be presented to the registry.

On the other hand, maritime lien holders should register their claims with the registry through judicial channels. One of the effects of registering an encumbrance is to obtain priority ranking over those post-dating such registration. Another effect of registration is that when an encumbrance has been entered in the registry, it is considered to have become public knowledge. Further, registration of mortgages with the relevant ship registry completes the creation of the mortgage. 

Securable claims and priority

What claims can be secured by maritime liens and what is the order of priority?

Pursuant to Article 1320 of the Commercial Code, the following claims against the owner, charterer, manager or operator of the vessel are considered maritime liens:

  • claims by seafarers for unpaid fees or other amounts due, including repatriation costs and social security payments;
  • claims with regard to physical injury or loss of life that have occurred either on land or water in direct relation with operation of the vessel;
  • salvage fees;
  • port, canal and other waterways, quarantine or pilotage fees;
  • claims in tort due to financial loss or damage caused by operation of the vessel, excluding loss of or damage to cargo on board, containers and passengers’ items; and
  • claims for general average contributions.

Notably, maritime liens cannot be sought for physical injury claims and claims in tort if they are the result of or caused by the following:

  • damages that have arisen in relation with the carriage of oil or other dangerous or hazardous substances by sea that are covered either by strict liability or mandatory insurance or other means in accordance with either international conventions or national law; or
  • damages that have been caused by radioactive substances or the combination of radioactive substances with other dangerous substances constituent of poisonous or explosive substances or nuclear fuel or radioactive products or waste.

The maritime liens set out above rank in the order listed, provided that maritime liens securing claims for reward for the salvage of the vessel take priority over all other maritime liens which pre-date the operations giving rise to the said liens.

Maritime liens for claims by seafarers for unpaid fees, claims with regard to physical injury or loss of life, claims for port, canal and other waterways, quarantine or pilotage fees and port, canal and other waterways, quarantine or pilotage fees and claims in tort due to financial loss or damage (as set out above) rank equally.

The maritime liens for general average contribution claims rank after other maritime liens and registered mortgages.


Under what circumstances are maritime liens extinguished?

Maritime liens are extinguished after a one-year period unless, before the expiry of such period, the vessel has been arrested or seized and the arrest or seizure leads to a forced sale.

Maritime liens for general average contribution claims will be extinguished after the following periods (whichever expires first):

  • after a six-month period from the date on which the claims secured thereby arose unless, before to the expiry of such period, the vessel has been arrested or seized and the arrest or seizure leads to a forced sale; or
  • at the end of a 60-day period following the sale of the vessel to a good-faith purchaser; this period will commence on the date on which the sale is registered in accordance with the law of the state in which the vessel is registered following the sale.

Foreign liens

Are foreign liens recognised in your jurisdiction?


Transfer and assignment

Which rules govern the transfer and assignment of liens, mortgages and other encumbrances?

The assignment of or subrogation to a claim secured by a maritime lien entails the simultaneous assignment of or subrogation to the maritime lien.


Grounds for arrest

Under what circumstances can a ship be arrested in order to secure a claim against it?

Ships in Turkey may be arrested to secure claims arising from maritime claims as listed in Article 1352 of the Commercial Code; the list is identical to that provided under the Arrest Convention 1999 save for a small addition regarding loans granted for the benefit of the vessel.

Can a ship be arrested to secure a non-maritime claim?

Apart from the maritime claims listed under Article 1352 of the Commercial Code, the arrest of ships is not allowed as a matter of Turkish law. Therefore, a ship cannot be arrested to secure a non-maritime claim. 

Can a ship be arrested to secure a claim against a sister ship?

The general rule is that the ship sought to be arrested should be owned by the debtor. There are some exceptions to this rule, such as claims secured by in rem rights (ie, mortgages and statutory or contractual liens) and cases where the claim relates to the ownership or possession of the ship. Arrest is also permissible for any other ship which, when the arrest is enforced, is owned by the person liable for the maritime claim and who was, when the claim arose, the owner, demise charterer, time charterer or voyage charterer of the ship.


What are the procedural and documentary requirements for seeking arrest of a ship?

If the target ship flies a foreign flag, the arrest application must be made to the courts in the district where the ship has anchored, laid up or moored or, if it is in a repair yard, in the district in which the yard is located. If the target ship is a Turkish-flagged ship then in addition to the courts in the relevant district, the courts in the province in which the ship’s port of registry is located will also be competent.

Apart from the security requirement, the party seeking arrest must apply to the competent court with sufficient evidence to prove prima facie that the claim is a maritime claim listed in Article 1352 of the Commercial Code and the quantum of the claim.

Once an arrest order is obtained it must be enforced within three days. Further, the applicant must issue substantive proceedings on the merits of its claim in the competent jurisdiction within 30 days of the arrest. If the arrest order is not enforced or substantive proceedings on the merits are not commenced within the periods prescribed the arrest order will lapse.


What security must the arresting party put up in order to secure arrest of a ship and how is this security calculated?

The arresting party must deposit 10,000 special drawing rights as counter-security before an arrest application will be entertained. The amount of the counter-security may be increased or decreased as per applications by either party, provided that the arresting court is satisfied that the request has merit. The counter-security may take the form of a cash deposit into an account nominated by the arresting court or a bank letter of guarantee issued by a Turkish bank.

What security can the arrested party provide for release of an arrested ship?

There are two types of security that the arrested party can opt to deposit:

  • security for the ship; and
  • security for the claim.

In the first option, the arrested party can deposit security to cover the value of the arrested ship. This way, the arrested vessel will be released and all other creditors can apply to enforce their claims on the security. The second option is more straightforward as the arrested party deposits security to cover the maritime claim, interest and costs. The type of the security is usually either cash or a bank letter of guarantee but the parties are free to reach an agreement on another type of security. Therefore, if the arresting party consents, protection and indemnity club letters of undertaking are acceptable. 

Judicial sale of ships


What is the legal procedure for the judicial sale of ships in your jurisdiction?

Judicial sale of a vessel is enforced by bailiffs’ offices. First, the value of the vessel must be appraised by court-appointed experts by way of a court survey. Once the court survey report has been issued, all creditors and the shipowner are entitled to challenge the appraised value. In such a situation, it may be necessary to conduct another court survey.

Regardless of the flag of the vessel, Turkish procedural rules will be applied. That said, if the vessel flies a foreign flag, the bailiff must inform the relevant flag state and summon the records of the vessel and the list of the encumbrances over it. Once these steps have been completed, the auction will be announced in a national newspaper.

At the auction, the vessel can be auctioned off for no less than 50% of its appraised value, and the sale price must be sufficient to satisfy the bailiff’s expenses in connection with the auction and the claims of those creditors that have privilege over the creditor that requested the auction.

All concerned parties will be entitled to seek the cancellation of the auction within seven days; however, if the conditions prescribed by Article 134 of the Enforcement and Bankruptcy Code are met, a seven-day window to apply for the cancellation of the auction commences from the date on which the concerned party is informed of the reason for cancellation of the auction. After one year, the cancellation of a sale cannot be requested by any means. The vessel will not be delivered to the buyer until the auction is finalised (ie, either no objections have been filed within the prescribed period of time or following the dismissal of the objections).

The new Commercial Code introduced a new method for the sale of a vessel: sale via negotiations. The relevant article of the Commercial Code stipulates that vessels may be sold before satisfaction of the general auction conditions. Article 1386 of the code lists the conditions for a vessel to be sold early. The purpose of the article is stated by the lawmaker as the need for rapid sale of vessels, which devaluate rapidly and are dangerous to maintain. Courts have yet to set precedents to shed light on the exact procedure and value in relation to sales via negotiations.

Foreign sales

Under what circumstances are foreign sales recognised?

When a Turkish-flagged vessel is subject to judicial sale in another country, the competent authority of such country should send notices to:

  • the Turkish ship registry where the vessel is registered;
  • the registered owner of the vessel; and
  • the third parties that have registered their claims with the relevant Turkish registry.

This notice should be sent at least 30 days before the sale.

Turkish law also provides an exception to this rule. In this regard, the related parties can also choose to announce the sale by advertising in a Turkish gazette with circulation of over 50,000 copies. This should also be performed at least 30 days before the sale.

Limitation of liability


What parties may limit liability for maritime claims?

The Hague-Visby Rules have in most part been incorporated into the new Commercial Code. As such, the carrier’s liability due for loss of or damage to the cargo is limited under the rules.

As for tonnage limitation, although there has been a long-standing debate in Turkey on whether the Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims (LLMC) Convention was ever duly and validly enacted by Turkey, the Commercial Code directly incorporates the LLMC Convention and the 1996 Protocol, and thus puts an end to the debates. Therefore, the LLMC Convention now applies and the Admiralty Court has started to set precedents on the establishment of a limitation fund.

Further, the Civil Liability Convention is incorporated into the Commercial Code and it applies in order to limit a shipowner’s liability where it is not at fault for an incident.

For what claims can liability be limited? Are any claims explicitly exempt from the limitation of liability?

Turkey has explicitly excluded the application of Articles 2 (1)(d) and (e) of the LLMC Convention; therefore, wreck and cargo removal claims are not subject to limitation. On the other hand, Turkey has not imposed reservations with respect to Article 3. As such, the claims listed thereto are exempt from limitation in Turkish law.


What limits are set for eligible claims?

The carrier’s liability due to loss of or damage to cargo is limited to 666.67 special drawing rights (SDRs) per unit or 2SDRs per kilogram of gross weight of the cargo, whichever is higher. However, if the parties agree on the value and type of the cargo and explicitly state it on the bill of lading, the value agreed on by the parties will be deemed the limit. In cases of liability due to delay, the carrier’s liability is limited to two-and-a-half times the freight.

As for tonnage limitation, the increased limits under the LLCM Convention and 1996 Protocol announced by the International Maritime Organisation on April 19 2012 and which entered into force on June 8 2015 apply in Turkey, although there is ongoing debate on the application of the tacit acceptance procedure stemming from the lack of publication of the new limits in the Official Gazette.

Limitation funds

What rules and procedures govern the establishment of limitation funds?

There is no precedent or know-how as to how such a fund is to be set up and operated. A commission has been set up and is in the process of investigating how this is handled in a number of selected jurisdictions. It is expected that the applicable rules and regulations in one of these jurisdictions will form the basis of a usage law in Turkey, which in turn will provide necessary guidance to the courts.

How are liability funds distributed?

Liability funds under the LLMC Convention are distributed based on the rules set out in Article 6 of the convention. According to Article 6(2), without prejudice to the right of claims for loss of life or personal injury, claims in respect of damage to harbour works, basins and waterways as well as aids to navigation have priority over other claims under Paragraph 1(b).

Carriage of goods

International conventions

Is your jurisdiction party to any international conventions on the carriage of goods by sea? If so, does the relevant domestic implementing law contain any notable modifications (eg, extensions to the scope of application)?

Turkey is party to the 1924 International Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules of Law relating to Bills of Lading (Hague Rules), but not to the Hague-Visby, Hamburg or Rotterdam Rules. However, the Hague-Visby Rules and parts of the Hamburg Rules have been incorporated into the Commercial Code. In practice, there is some controversy regarding the application of the Hague Rules over the Commercial Code. Several authorities have expressed the view that where applicable the Hague Rules should be applied and the application of the Commercial Code should be limited to cases where the Hague Rules are not applicable. That said, in practice, the Turkish courts apply the Commercial Code.

Carrier’s responsibility

What is the official extent of the carrier’s responsibility for goods?

Article 1178 of the Commercial Code provides that the carrier will be liable for loss of or any damage to cargo while the cargo is in the carrier’s possession. The carrier would be deemed liable for:

  • any loss or damage to the cargo in the event of the vessel being unseaworthy;
  • actions in breach of the duty of care to the cargo;
  • cargo being carried on deck without any instructions from or consent by the shipper;
  • cargo being loaded or transferred to another vessel; and
  • cargo being carried by a route other than that determined before the voyage.

On the other hand, the carrier will not be held liable if the damage or loss occurs due to a fault in the technical management of the vessel (ie, error in navigation) or a fire on board if the damage or loss did not arise from the carrier’s fault.

Contractual limitation of liability

May parties contract out of any legal provisions governing cargo liability?

In principle, all terms and conditions within contracts of carriage, bills of lading or other documents for carriage by sea that directly or indirectly limit the carrier’s liability or relieve it of liability in advance are invalid. However, once liability arises, the parties are free to enter into such agreements. There are some exceptions to this rule such as the carriage of livestock and deck carriage. Further, the rule barring contractual limitation and relief does not apply to voyage charterparties, except with regard to the relationship between the holder of the bill of lading and the carrier where a bill of lading has been issued pursuant to the voyage charterparty.

Title to sue

Who has title to sue on a bill of lading?

The lawful holder of a bill of lading has title to sue the carrier. The relationship between the shipper and the carrier is subject to the terms of the contract of carriage. 

Time bar

What is the time bar for cargo claims?

Claims against the carrier arising out of the loss of, damage to or delay in delivery of the goods lapse unless legal proceedings are commenced within one year. An action for recourse may be brought even after the one-year period expires, provided that the proceedings are brought within 90 days of the date on which the person bringing such recourse action has settled the claim or has been served with process in the action against itself. This period may be extended if the parties so agree after the cause of action has arisen.

Definition of ‘carrier’ and ‘goods’

How are ‘carrier’ and ‘goods’ defined in respect of cargo claims? Is there any especially pertinent case law on this issue?

In principle, the person considered to be the carrier is:

  • the person who signed the bill of lading; or
  • the person on behalf of whom the bill of lading was signed.

On the other hand, there is no detailed definition of ‘goods’ in the Commercial Code and it has been stipulated that every type of cargo will be considered goods. 

Defences available to carrier

Under what circumstances may the carrier rely on the perils of the sea defence? What other defences are available to the carrier?

There is no blanket precedent to determine the circumstance under which the carrier can rely on the perils of the sea defence; therefore, the facts of each case should be determined separately. According to Article 1182 of the Commercial Code, the carrier will not be held responsible if the loss or damage arose from:

  • perils and accidents that occur at sea or on other waters on which the vessel can operate;
  • acts of war, commotions and riots, acts of public enemies, orders by authorities or quarantine restrictions;
  • court-ordered seizures;
  • strikes, lockouts or other labour restraints;
  • acts or omissions of the shipper or the owner of the goods and their agents or representatives;
  • wastage in volume or weight by itself or an inherent defect of the goods or the natural type or quality of the goods;
  • insufficient packing; and
  • insufficient markings.

In addition, the carrier will not be held responsible if the loss is a result of an act related to navigation or technical management of the ship or a fire, unless caused by its own fault. The carrier is also not liable for loss that has arisen while saving or attempting to save life or property at sea.

Third parties

What legal protections and defences against cargo claims are available to agents of the carrier and other third parties (eg, Himalaya clauses)?

In principle, any Himalaya-type clause is valid under Turkish law. Additionally, the Commercial Code clearly stipulates that save for the exceptions specified above, the carrier will be liable for losses resulting from the fault or negligence of all responsible persons in the performance of the contract of carriage.

In cases where the carrier appoints a sub-carrier as an actual carrier to perform part or all of the carriage, the carrier will remain liable for the acts and omissions of the actual carrier and its employees, agents and servants. However, the parties to the contract of carriage may agree that the carrier will not be liable for any loss, damage or delay while the goods are in the actual carrier’s possession. 

Deviation from route

Under what circumstances is deviation from the agreed route allowed?

If the master deviates from the agreed route to save life or property or for another justifiable reason, this will not affect the rights and obligations of the parties and the carrier will not be liable for any loss that may arise as a result of the deviation.

Claims against shipper

What claims can the carrier pursue in respect of the shipper’s failure to meet its obligations?

The shipper will be liable for any loss suffered by the carrier that may arise from damage to or loss of the vessel or any other cause if the loss was caused by the negligence of the shipper or its employees or agents.

The carrier has a contractual right to detain goods for any claims arising out of the contract of carriage for as long as the goods are in its possession and for 30 days after the goods have been delivered, provided that they are still in the receiver’s possession. 

Multimodal carriage of goods

How is multimodal carriage regulated in your jurisdiction?

Articles 902-905 of the Commercial Code contain provisions specific to multimodal carriage. The specific provisions and the general provisions of transport law contained in the Commercial Code apply to carriages that are subject to at least two difference modes of transport, unless provisions to the contrary are contained in international conventions which regulate each mode of transport. Turkey is party to:

  • the Convention on the Contract for the International Carriage of Goods by Road for carriage by road;
  • the Convention concerning International Carriage by Rail and its appendices (eg, Uniform Rules concerning the Contract of International Carriage of Passengers by Rail and Uniform Rules concerning the Contract of International Carriage of Goods by Rail);
  • the 1924 Brussels Convention (Hague Rules) for carriage by sea; and
  • the Montreal Convention for carriage by air.

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.


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.

Jurisdiction and dispute resolution

Competent courts

What courts are empowered to hear maritime cases in your jurisdiction?

Commercial courts are competent to try all disputes relating to maritime matters and the court in the district where the incident took place (ie, the port of discharge of the damaged cargo or the place of collision) has territorial jurisdiction over maritime disputes. However, not all commercial courts are dedicated to hear maritime-related cases. In many Turkish cities, a designated commercial court will act as the admiralty court.

Exclusive jurisdiction and arbitration clauses

Under what conditions will exclusive jurisdiction and arbitration clauses in shipping contracts be held as valid?

Pursuant to the Civil Procedure Code, the Turkish courts' approach to the choice of court or forum is that the parties must specifically mention the name of the court or forum that will have jurisdiction (eg, the High Court of Justice of England and Wales in London). Also, the Commercial Code stipulates that incorporation of voyage charterparty terms (including law and jurisdiction clauses) into bills of lading by reference are binding on the third-party lawful holder only if a copy of the charterparty has been provided to the lawful holder when the bill of lading is transferred. 

Maritime arbitration

What is the general state and prevalence of maritime arbitration in your jurisdiction?

Arbitration agreements are enforceable under Turkish law. The arbitration agreement must be in writing and should be unequivocal (ie, it should demonstrate a clear intention by the parties to opt for arbitration). An arbitration agreement providing for the jurisdiction of any court of law or for dispute resolution as an alternative to arbitration will be invalid.

Where the place of arbitration has been determined as Turkey, two sets of rules may apply in terms of procedural matters:

  • If there is an international element to the dispute, the International Arbitration Code will apply.
  • If the dispute is of a domestic nature, the Procedural Code will govern the process. 

Recognition and enforcement

What regimes govern the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments and arbitral awards?

In principle, foreign court judgments and arbitral awards may be enforced in Turkey, subject to certain conditions being met. For foreign court judgments to be enforced in Turkey, there must be a bilateral agreement or a mutual de facto reciprocity between Turkey and the country from which the judgment originated with respect to the recognition and enforcement of court judgments. Alternatively, both countries must be party to a multinational treaty providing for such recognition.

With regard to arbitral awards, Turkey is party to the New York Convention. It follows that arbitral awards rendered in a country that is party to the convention can be enforced in Turkey, provided that the relevant criteria set out in the convention are satisfied.

That said, foreign court judgments or arbitral awards enforced must not be in breach of the Turkish public policy and they must not pertain to a subject on which Turkish courts statutorily have exclusive jurisdiction.

Marine security

Legal regime

What regime governs the imposition of security measures on ships and in port facilities?

Security measures on ships and in port facilities are governed by both international conventions and domestic legislation. Turkey is a party to many international conventions with regard to maritime safety and security, such as the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) and the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code. These conventions are incorporated by domestic legislation.

Security officers

What rules apply to the qualification and conduct of security officers on ships and in port facilities? Are armed guards allowed on ships?

Rules governing the qualification and conduct of security officers under international conventions to which Turkey is a party are incorporated via domestic legislation. Thus, rules imposed by the ISPS Code or SOLAS are also binding under domestic law. The relevant legislation maintains that security officers must undergo training that is tailored to their job description. For instance, only security officers that will carry firearms will receive shooting and related training.

Armed guards are not allowed on Turkish ships. However, while the crew is not allowed to carry firearms, an exception is provided for the master of the vessel. The master can obtain a license to carry a firearm on the condition that the firearm must remain at the master’s cabin at all times.

Security information

What rules govern the provision of security information to port authorities?

SOLAS and the ISPS Code, as incorporated in domestic law, govern which and how security information is to be disclosed to the port authorities.