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Trends and prospects
What are the current trends in and future prospects for the insurance and reinsurance markets in your jurisdiction?
Currently 39 non-life insurers, 22 life insurance and pension companies and two reinsurers are carrying out business activity in the market. The market is still attracting investors. The growth in the insurance market has caused various problems, such as destructive competition and over-regulation. Severe competition conditions are forcing companies to find solutions such as reaching new customers, using new sales methods and developing more sophisticated products. Because of this highly competitive behaviour, companies are pushing the limits of the legislation and trying to find grey areas to cut through legal solutions.
The severity of competition has affected the financial structures of insurers in the long term. Insurers have consequently raised premiums for particular insurance types, mainly mandatory third-party liability insurance (MTPL), in order to meet the capital requirements set out under the insurance legislation.
High premiums within the MTPL field have recently occupied the agenda. In 2017 the Undersecretariat of the Treasury took a series of measures, such as a new tariff which includes a mandatory maximum level of premiums for all types of vehicle in order to reduce insurance premiums to a reasonable level. The undersecretariat recently amended the Regulation on Tariff Implementation Principles for MTPL Insurance and established a pool of high-risk insureds for certain groups of vehicle. The Motor Insurers’ Bureau is authorised to manage the pool. Licensed MTPL insurers will undertake the loss or profit of the poll in accordance with their production share.
Another hot topic with a major impact on the insurance market is the new Personal Data Protection Law (6698). The law establishes certain requirements and obligations for all data controllers (of which insurers form a significant part). Insurers will need to implement procedures to ensure compliance with these requirements and obligations.
Once insurers come to terms with these issues, the market should soon begin to focus on online sales and technological advancements.
What is the primary legislation governing the (re)insurance industry in your jurisdiction?
The primary legislation governing the (re)insurance industry in Turkey is the Insurance Law (5684), which mainly regulates the establishments and operations of all parties of the insurance market, including insurers, reinsurers, agencies, brokers, actuaries, loss adjusters and all other institutions.
The scope and objectives of the law are to:
- regulate principles and procedures relating to the operation, management, organisation, termination and supervision of the parties which are subject to the law;
- regulate procedures and principles relating to the insurance arbitration system;
- protect the rights and interests of parties to insurance contracts; and
- ensure the effective operation of the national insurance sector in a secure and stable atmosphere.
Which government bodies regulate the (re)insurance industry in your jurisdiction and what is the extent of their powers?
The Undersecretariat of the Treasury General Directorate of Insurance regulates all insurance business activities in Turkey, as well as Turkish insurers’ business activities abroad that can affect their liabilities in Turkey. Pursuant to the law on its establishment, the undersecretariat shall carry out the following duties (among others):
- to draft, implement, monitor and guide the implementation of legislation relating to insurance;
- to conduct the work of harmonising such legislation with the relevant EU legislation; and
- to undertake, implement and monitor the implementation by concerned organisations of measures to develop the national insurance sector and protect insureds in accordance with the relevant legislation.
Ownership and organisational requirements
Ownership of (re)insurers
Are there any restrictions on ownership of or investment in (re)insurers in your jurisdiction, including any limits on foreign ownership/investment?
There are no specific limitations on foreign ownership of or investment in (re)insurers under Turkish legislation. Foreign (re)insurers may also operate through opening a branch in Turkey.
Pursuant to the third article of the Insurance Law, (re)insurers planning to operate in Turkey must be established as a joint stock company or a cooperative. (Re)insurers must be engaged in no other business aside from insurance transactions and business which is directly related to insurance operations.
In addition, the founders of (re)insurers must have sufficient financial standing and good repute, as well as a clean judicial record and financial background. If founders are legal persons, those individuals with management and auditory powers over such legal persons must meet the criteria applicable to real person founders, aside from the financial standing requirement. If they are to act within a holding company, the financial standing of the holding company should be sufficient to carry out insurance activities.
What regulations, procedures and eligibility criteria govern the transfer of control of/acquisition of a stake in a (re)insurer?
Article 9 of the Insurance Law and Article 19 of the Regulation on the Establishment and Working Principles of Insurance Companies and Reinsurance Companies govern the acquisition of shares in (re)insurers.
The prior authorisation of the Undersecretariat of the Treasury General Directorate of Insurance is required for share acquisitions which directly or indirectly reach or exceed 10%, 20%, 33% or 50% of the insurer’s share capital, as well as for share transfers which will cause a shareholder’s shares to reach or fall below these thresholds.
The transfer of shares that grant the privilege of nominating members to the insurer’s executive boards (insofar as this will influence the company’s supervision and management) is also subject to the prior authorisation of the undersecretariat, irrespective of these percentage thresholds.
The public offering of shares amounting to more than 10% of the insurer’s capital also requires the approval of the undersecretariat.
If the share volume acquired through public offering or purchases in security exchanges exceeds 10%, 20%, 33% or 50% of the insurer’s capital, the exercise of shareholding rights and registration in the share registry will be subject to the approval of the undersecretariat.
Must (re)insurers adopt a certain legal structure in order to operate? If no mandatory company organisation applies, what are the common structures used?
The conditions relating to the organisation of (re)insurers are stipulated in the first paragraph of Article 4 of the Insurance Law. According to this provision, (re)insurers planning to operate in Turkey must be established as a joint stock company or a cooperative. The structures of these companies are regulated under the Commercial Code.
The Insurance Law also provides specific provisions. In particular, the board of directors of a (re)insurer must comprise at least five persons, including the general manager. The general manager must be a natural person. Members of the board of directors must meet the same eligibility criteria as those applicable to founders of (re)insurers, with the exception of the financial standing criterion. At least one deputy general manager should be responsible for issues relating to the conduct of insurance business or insurance techniques. (Re)insurers must establish an effective internal control system – including internal auditing and risk management mechanisms – in order to maintain and regularly audit compliance of all of their business and operations with insurance legislation, other relevant legislation, internal company regulations, management strategy and policies, and to detect and prevent mistakes, fraud and unlawfulness in this regard.
Do any particular corporate governance requirements apply to (re)insurers, including any eligibility criteria for directors and officers?
Pursuant to Article 4 of the Insurance Law, natural person founders of joint stock (re)insurers must:
- not be bankrupt or have declared bankruptcy;
- have the financial standing and good repute necessary to become a founder or shareholder of a (re)insurer;
- not hold a certain amount of shares (specified in the Insurance Law) in companies which are subject to winding up, or which have been subject to the close supervision of the undersecretariat according to the Insurance Law; and
- not have been sentenced to imprisonment or to pay more than one judicial fine, or convicted of serious offences, even if they have enjoyed amnesty.
Certain conditions apply to directors and officers, including the following authorised persons under the Insurance Law:
- Members of the board of directors must meet the same eligibility criteria for founders of (re)insurers, with the exception of the financial standing criterion. The majority of the board should hold at least a four-year undergraduate degree and have at least three years’ experience in any of the fields specified in the Insurance Law.
- General managers and deputy general managers must meet the same eligibility criteria for founders of (re)insurers, with the exception of the financial standing criterion. They should hold at least a four-year undergraduate degree. General managers should have at least 10 years’ experience. Deputy general managers engaged in insurance business and techniques should have at least seven years’ experience in any of the fields specified in the Insurance Law, whereas those serving in other deputy general manager posts should have at least seven years’ experience in the field for which they are responsible. At least one deputy general manager should be responsible for issues related to insurance business or techniques.
Even if they have been employed under other titles, other managers who perform duties and have powers equivalent or superior to the post of deputy general manager are subject to the provisions applicable to general managers and deputy general managers.
Also, pursuant to the third paragraph of Article 6 and Article 8 of the Regulation on the Establishment and Working Principles of Insurance Companies and Reinsurance Companies, the financial standing requirement concerning the members of the board of directors and general manager, deputy general managers and other directors shall be assessed on the basis of certain factors, such as:
- due tax obligations;
- due social security premium obligations;
- execution proceedings against them for loans and financing taken out in the past five years; and
- other issues to be determined by the undersecretariat to measure financial standing.
Apart from the abovementioned requirements, the work of directors of (re)insurers is restricted under the relevant legislation in order to prevent conflicts of interest. In this regard, members of the board of directors, auditors and employees authorised to sign on behalf of the company cannot:
- serve as agents of the company for which they work;
- engage in insurance loss adjustment or brokerage activities;
- be shareholders or members of the board of directors or board of auditors in companies founded to engage in such activities; or
- engage in paid employment relating to the company's field of activity.
These restrictions also apply to the spouses of these persons and children under their custody.
Which (re)insurers must obtain authorisation from the regulator before operating on the market and what is the procedure for doing so?
Before commencing operations in Turkey, (re)insurers must obtain a licence from the Undersecretariat of the Treasury General Directorate of Insurance for each insurance branch that they wish to operate. Following the execution of establishment proceedings under the relevant regulations, registration with the Trade Registry and relevant announcement and fulfilment of the capital requirement, the company must submit a licence application to the undersecretariat along with certain documents (eg, regarding tariffs, products and business plans) specified in the Regulation on the Establishment and Working Principles of Insurance Companies and Reinsurance Companies.
What are the minimum capital and solvency requirements for (re)insurers operating in your jurisdiction?
Pursuant to the third paragraph of Article 5 of the Insurance Law, (re)insurers must raise their paid-up capital to a specified amount determined by the undersecretariat in consideration of the number of insurance branches for which licences have been requested and their respective coverage. This amount can be no less than TL5 million. The undersecretariat is authorised to increase this amount, provided that it does not exceed the rate of increase stipulated in the Producer Price Index of the Turkish Statistical Institute.
Moreover, during their operations (re)insurers must set aside the required reserves depending on their production and ensure full compliance with the capital requirements stipulated under the relevant legislation.
Do any other financial requirements apply?
Certain financial requirements are set out under the legislation governing (re)insurer operations. According to Article 9 of the Regulation on the Measurement and Assessment of Capital Requirements of Insurance and Reinsurance Companies and Pension Companies, (re)insurers must meet a required equity capital amount calculated pursuant to Article 6 of the regulation.
Pursuant to the first paragraph of Article 17 of the Insurance Law, insurers must allocate guarantees according to the principles set out under the law within the scope of this article in order to meet their commitments arising from the insurance contracts that they have concluded in Turkey. The required guarantee amounts for both life and non-life insurers are set out in detail in the regulations. However, as per the fourth paragraph of Article 17 of the Insurance Law, non-life insurers must establish a minimum guarantee fund that should be no less than one-third of their equity, the calculation method for which is to be determined by regulation. The minimum guarantee fund established by non-life insurers shall in any period be no less than one-third of the capital requirement for each branch operated by the company.
Moreover, pursuant to Article 4 of the Regulation on Financial Structures of Insurance, Reinsurance and Pension Companies, insurance and pension companies which operate life and personal accident branches must establish guarantees in proportion to their commitments arising from the insurance contracts that they have concluded in Turkey. This regulation also sets out the necessary measures to be taken where (re)insurers have negative financial structures.
In addition, the Regulation on Technical Provisions of Insurance, Reinsurance and Pension Companies and Assets on which Such Provisions Are to Be Invested requires (re)insurers to set aside specified technical provisions to meet their existing and potential liabilities, and stipulates the methods and principles applicable to the assets in which these provisions shall be invested.
As per Article 20 of the Insurance Law, the minister of finance may require (re)insurers to implement certain measures (within an appropriate period) in order to strengthen their financial structure where:
- they fail to meet the minimum guarantee fund amount stipulated by the legislation;
- they fail to allocate the required guarantee;
- they do not hold sufficient and appropriate assets to cover technical reserves;
- they fail to fulfil their obligations arising from contracts; or
- their financial structures are otherwise weakened and endanger the rights and benefits of insureds.
Are personnel of (re)insurers subject to any professional qualification requirements?
The Regulation on the Establishment and Working Principles of Insurance Companies and Reinsurance Companies includes provisions on the qualifications of certain types of personnel:
- Employees with first-degree signatory authority must have qualifications similar to those applicable to the general manager and deputy general managers.
- Directors and employees assigned to the company’s accounting branch should have sufficient knowledge of Turkish financial reporting standards and insurance accounting systems. Directors assigned to the accounting branch must have at least three years’ experience in the subject.
- Employees performing and monitoring investments and derivative instrument operations should have relevant knowledge of the subject, while directors should have at least three years’ work experience.
What rules and requirements govern the business plans of (re)insurers?
The business plan must be submitted to the regulator for at least the first three years following the company’s establishment and must include details of:
- the reasons for establishment;
- estimates for at least the first three years of operations; and
- the company’s viability to continuously meet its liabilities.
Article 12 of the Regulation on the Establishment and Working Principles of Insurance Companies and Reinsurance Companies sets out the specific required content of the business plan of (re)insurers.
What risk management systems and procedures must (re)insurers adopt?
As part of their organisational structure, (re)insurers must establish an internal control system that includes risk management systems. Risk management activities are directly dispatched and managed by the general manager of the company.
Pursuant to Article 21 of the Regulation on Internal Systems, (re)insurers must establish written policies and implement procedures on both a consolidated and non-consolidated basis to manage all risks arising from their activities and those of their subsidiaries and affiliates subject to full consolidation.
Risk limits shall be determined:
- in accordance with the risk level that the company may assume, its activities and the volume and complexity of its products and services; and
- at the level of the (re)insurer’s personnel, its business units, the entire company and the group to which it belongs.
(Re)insurers must regularly review the risk limits and adapt them in accordance with changes in market conditions and company strategies.
Reporting and disclosure
What ongoing regulatory reporting and disclosure requirements apply to (re)insurers?
Several reporting requirements apply to (re)insurers arising out of various secondary legislation based on the Insurance Law. These reporting obligations relate to the following (among other things):
- the introduction of new products;
- the appointment of members of the board of directors;
- amendments to the article of association;
- financial statements;
- the capital adequacy statement;
- reinsurance reports;
- the establishment or winding up of regional directorates and branches;
- information regarding contracts signed with agencies to carry out audits for the accounting period;
- the appointment of insurance agencies;
- the organisation and technical sub-structure of distance contracts; and
- records and statistics for all complaints.
Do any other operating requirements apply in your jurisdiction?
Joint stock companies established in accordance with the Commercial Code and companies established as cooperatives to carry out mutual insurance activities under the Cooperatives Law (1163) can engage only in insurance activities and activities directly related to insurance.
Insurers and shareholders, members of the board of directors, auditors and employees of insurers must not make any asset-reducing transactions pursuant to Article 19 of the Insurance Law. Accordingly, these persons must use company resources only for payments, financial support and advances to personnel subject to the articles of association or by resolution of the general meeting or the board of directors; nor shall these persons enter into transactions which reduce the value of assets contrary to the rules of goodwill or shift income in any case.
What are the consequences of non-compliance with the operating requirements applicable to (re)insurers?
The Insurance Law provides for administrative and judicial penalties and prison sentences for non-compliance with the requirements set out under the law.
Accordingly, non-compliance with certain administrative duties set out under the Insurance Law is subject to an administrative fine of between TL1,000 and TL25,000. Administrative fines are applied by the undersecretariat.
Certain other non-compliant acts are subject to judicial fines and prison sentences. In particular, real persons and the executives of legal persons may be subject to a prison term of between one and five years or a judicial fine of between 300 and 1,000 days.
What general rules, requirements and procedures govern the conclusion of (re)insurance contracts in your jurisdiction?
The rules governing the conclusion of insurance contracts are contained in the Commercial Code (6102). Where there are no applicable provisions within the scope of the Commercial Code, the appropriate provisions of the Code of Obligations apply. In addition, as per Article 11 of the Insurance Law, the main content of insurance contracts is arranged in accordance with the general conditions approved by the Undersecretariat of the Treasury General Directorate of Insurance and must be applied by all insurers in a similar way.
Are (re)insurance contracts subject to any mandatory/prohibited provisions?
Articles 1452, 1486 and 1520 of the Commercial Code set out mandatory provisions for insurance contracts. Most of the rules relate to provisions that cannot be changed to the detriment of the policyholder, insured or beneficiary. The mandatory provisions under the Commercial Code apply to all contracts.
Can any terms by implied into (re)insurance contracts (eg, a duty of good faith)?
The duty of good faith can be implied into (re)insurance contracts.
What standard or common contractual terms are in use?
The main content of insurance contracts is arranged in accordance with the general conditions approved by the undersecretariat and must be applied by all insurers in a similar way. However, insurers can set special conditions in certain cases.
What is the state of development in your jurisdiction with regard to the use of ‘smart’ contracts (ie, blockchain based) for (re)insurance purposes? Are any other types of financial technology commonly used in the conclusion of (re)insurance contracts?
There is no specific regulation governing the conclusion of contracts based on the use of such financial technology.
What rules and procedures govern breach of contract (for both (re)insurer and insured)?
The Commercial Code contains specific provisions regarding the breach of an insurance contract in certain instances, as well as the rights of the parties in case of breach. Under the code, breach of an insurance contract includes:
- failure to pay the insurance premium;
- breach of the duty of disclosure;
- failure to pay the indemnity;
- breach of the duty to provide information and allow for the conduct of investigations; and
- failure to take measures to prevent or mitigate the loss.
Article 1449 of the Commercial Code governs the violation of the duties stipulated in the contract. Provisions to the effect that the insurer will be discharged from its obligation of performance by terminating the contract entirely or partly if the policyholder breaches a contractual duty towards the insurer shall be ineffective if the breach was not negligent, unless otherwise provided by the Commercial Code or other legislation. If the breach was negligent, the right to terminate shall be forfeited if not exercised within one month of the date of becoming aware of the breach (unless a different period is provided by the Commercial Code). The insurer may not terminate the contract if the violation had no effect on the materialisation of the risk or the extent of the insurer’s obligation to be fulfilled.
What consumer protection regulations are in place to safeguard the rights of purchasers of insurance products and services?
The Law on the Protection of Consumers (6502) protects the rights of purchasers of insurance products and services. The Regulation on the Operations to be Evaluated Under the Scope of Insuring Operations, Insurance Contracts Concluded In Favour of Consumers and Insurance Contracts Concluded As Distant Insurance Contracts also regulates consumer-related issues.
What general rules, requirements and procedures govern the filing of insurance claims?
The filing of insurance claims is governed by the relevant provisions on insurance contracts in the Commercial Code. The policyholder must:
- notify the insurer without delay when it becomes aware of the materialisation of the risk; and
- provide the insurer with all information and documentation required to determine the extent of the risk and indemnity.
Depending on various conditions, any delay in the filing of the claim may give the insurer the right to make a deduction on the indemnity amount or refrain from paying the indemnity altogether.
What is the time bar for filing claims?
Pursuant to Article 1446 of the Commercial Code, the policyholder must notify the insurer without delay when it becomes aware of the materialisation of the risk before the expiration of the time limit. However, if the amount of the claim increases due to the failure or delay in giving notice of the materialisation of the risk, the insurer may reduce the total amount of damages. All claims arising from insurance contracts must be filed within two years of the date when payment falls due. In any event, all claims relating to an insurance indemnity or insurance sum must be filed within six years of the date of materialisation of the risk. This period is extended to 10 years for liability insurance.
Denial of claim
On what grounds can the (re)insurer deny coverage?
The insurer may deny a claim if it concludes from the provided documents and information that the claim does not fall under the scope of the coverage. The insurer must act in accordance with the good-faith rule under Article 32 of the Insurance Law. According to this provision, (re)insurers must:
- refrain from acts which may endanger the rights and benefits of the insured;
- act in accordance with the legislation and principles of the business plan; and
- behave in compliance with the requirements of insurance and the rules of goodwill.
If materialisation of the risk is intentionally caused by the policyholder, the insured or the beneficiary (or persons whose acts these persons are liable for), the insurer will be discharged from liability and will not reimburse the premiums paid as per Article 1429 of the Commercial Code.
Similarly, if the claim is filed after expiry of the prescribed period, the insurer may deny the claim.
What rules and procedures govern the insured’s challenge of the denial of a claim?
The insured may apply for arbitration with the Insurance Arbitration Commission or bring a lawsuit against the insurer claiming that its damages fall under the scope of the coverage and that the indemnity should be paid.
If there is a prior agreement between the parties pertaining to another form of arbitration, the insured may challenge the denial of a claim by applying for such arbitration.
The insured may also apply to the Arbitration Committee for Consumer Problems pursuant to the Law on the Protection of Consumers (6502).
On what grounds can a third party file a claim directly with the (re)insurer?
For liability insurance, the claimant may claim its loss directly from the insurer as per Article 1478 of the Commercial Code.
Are punitive damages insurable?
Pursuant to Article 1404 of the Commercial Code (titled “Invalid Insurance”), insurance taken out to cover a loss resulting from an act of the policyholder or insured in breach of the mandatory rules, moral values, public order or rights of personality shall be null and void. Therefore, if the circumstances that cause punitive damages fall under the scope of Article 1404, such punitive damages will not be insurable under Turkish law.
What regime governs (re)insurers’ subrogation rights?
The insurer shall legally succeed the insured on payment of the insurance indemnity. If the insured has the right to file suit against third parties for the loss that it sustained, this right shall pass on to the insurer up to the amount it has paid as per Article 1472 (regarding property insurance) and Article 1481 (regarding liability insurance) of the Commercial Code.
Subrogation rights arise directly from the law. There is no need to conclude any agreement between the parties in order for the insurer to be entitled to subrogation. It is not possible under the law to renounce subrogation rights.
How are the services of insurance intermediaries regulated in your jurisdiction?
Insurance intermediaries may carry out their business as insurance agents or brokers under Turkish law. The Insurance Law is the main legislation governing the fundamental aspects of the business of insurance agents and insurance brokers. In addition, the Regulation on Insurance and Reinsurance Brokers and the Regulation on Insurance Agents provide specific regulations governing insurance agents and brokers. All insurance intermediaries are subject to the supervision of the Undersecretariat of the Treasury General Directorate of Insurance.
What tax liabilities arise in the conduct of (re)insurance business?
All moneys received by insurers in their favour under whatever name, whether in cash or on account in consideration of transactions that they have conducted, are subject to the banking and insurance transaction tax according to the Law on Expenditure Tax (6802). At present, the banking and insurance transaction tax rate is 5%.
What regime governs the insolvency of (re)insurers?
(Re)insurers operating in Turkey are subject to the Enforcement and Bankruptcy Code (2004). The Insurance Law also contains specific provisions regarding the insolvency of (re)insurers. According to Article 10 of the Insurance Law, in case of an insurer’s bankruptcy, the insured shall participate in the bankrupt’s estate in the third rank.
Effect on insureds
How does a (re)insurer’s insolvency affect insureds and the (re)insurer’s obligations to insureds?
If the insurer becomes insolvent or enforcement against the insurer is proved to be without result, the policyholder is entitled to request security from the insurer that the insurer will fulfil its undertaking. If such security is not given within one week of the request, the policyholder will be entitled to terminate the insurance contract pursuant to Article 1417 of the Commercial Code. The insurance contract will be terminated in the event of the insurer’s bankruptcy as per Article 1418 of the Commercial Code.
Are there any compulsory or preferred venues for insurance litigation in your jurisdiction?
Under general conditions set by the Undersecretariat of the Treasury General Directorate of Insurance, certain types of insurance (eg, life insurance) require special venues, while others do not. Where no specific venue is set by the relevant general conditions, the general rule of the Code of Civil Procedures (6100) applies, according to which “the court having general jurisdiction in respect to venue is the court where the domicile of the real or legal person is on the date that the action is filed”.
How are insurance disputes with a cross-border element handled in your jurisdiction?
The general rule under Article 24 of the Law on Private International Law and International Civil Procedure (5718) (titled “The Applicable Law for Contractual Obligation Relations”) applies. Accordingly, if the contract contains foreign elements (eg, domiciles or habitual residences or places of business located in different countries), then foreign law can be explicitly or implicitly designated under the contract. Therefore, if the parties choose foreign law as the governing law, such law will apply to any disputes arising from the contract. However, if the parties do not agree on the governing law, the contract will be governed by the law with the closest connection to the contract, as set out in Article 24.
What issues are commonly the subject of insurance litigation?
Disputes arising from indemnity payments (claims and recourse), unpaid premiums, unpaid intermediary commissions and portfolio compensation for agents are the most common subjects of insurance litigation.
What is the typical timeframe for insurance litigation?
The usual timeframe ranges from around six months to two years in the first instance, depending on the workload of the court that hears the insurance litigation. If the first-instance judgment is appealed, the timeframe will be relatively longer, as the courts of cassation take longer to review judgments. However, there are always exceptional cases in which the proceedings take less or more time.
What regime governs the arbitrability of insurance disputes?
The Insurance Arbitration Commission was established in accordance with Article 30 of the Insurance Law in order to settle disputes arising from insurance contracts between policyholders or beneficiaries and insurers.
Fifty insurers are members of the insurance arbitration system. Any party that is in conflict with a member of the insurance arbitration system may still benefit from the arbitration procedure even if there is no special provision in the relevant contract. Applications regarding disputes which have already been referred to a court or to the Arbitration Committee for Consumer Problems may not be filed with the commission.