Unlike the New York Convention 1958, which provides a straightforward procedure for enforcement of arbitration awards in another signatory state, there is no single unifying international treaty or convention when it comes to court judgments. Enforcement of foreign judgments is often covered by bilateral or multilateral treaties which vary from country to country or there may be local laws which provide that foreign court judgments will be enforced. Despite close economic relations between Turkey and Russia, there are no multilateral or bilateral treaties or any established court practice related to the enforcement of each other’s court judgements. Therefore the court practice on the matter varies. Our office has recently obtained an “exequatur” decision from Ankara 8th Commercial Court (“Ankara Court”) related to the enforcement of a Russian commercial court judgment in Turkey which can serve as a precedent. We will elaborate some of the issues related to the enforcement of Russian court judgments in Turkey, which were reviewed in the Ankara Court during the “exequatur” proceedings, after giving an overview of enforcement of foreign court judgments in Turkey.
Conditions for Enforcement of Foreign Court Judgements in Turkey.
Foreign court judgments and arbitral awards cannot be enforced in Turkey automatically. An enforcement suit has to be filed before the competent courts in Turkey and an “exequatur” decision has to be obtained. During the enforcement suit, Turkish courts cannot hear the case on merits based on the révision au fond prohibition, but review the following exhaustive list of conditions enumerated in the Turkish Private International Procedural Code:
- Reciprocity condition: In order to enforce a foreign court judgment in Turkey, there must either be a treaty between Turkey and the state where the judgment was given or in the absence of such treaty, there must be a court practice or local law provision which provides for the enforcement of Turkish court judgments in the courts of such state.
- Non-exclusive jurisdiction condition: The judgment must not be given on a matter, which is within the exclusive jurisdiction of Turkish courts or the judgment must not be given in a court within a state which does not have any relationship with the parties.
- Public policy considerations: The judgment must not be explicitly against Turkish public order.
- Right of defense: The judgment must be given by observing the rule of the defendant’s right of defense and if the judgment is given in the absence of the defendant, the service of the claim must have been made in accordance with the procedural rules of the country where the judgment is given.
Enforcement of Russian Court Judgements in Turkey
There are no multilateral or bilateral treaties between Turkey and Russia which provide for the recognition and enforcement of judgments of each other’s courts related to monetary claims despite close economic relations between the two countries. Accordingly a number of issues arise during the enforcement of Russian court judgments in Turkey some of which were reviewed thoroughly by the Ankara Court during the “exequatur” proceedings we have filed on behalf of a Russian company for the enforcement of the judgment of the Saint Petersburg and Leningrad Region “Arbitrazh” Court against a Turkish company . Ankara Court reviewed the following points:
- Firstly the status of Russian “Arbitrazh” Courts, which frequently cause problems during the enforcement of Russian commercial court judgements in Turkey, was reviewed. The Russian word “Arbitrazh” is wrongly understood as “arbitration” and accordingly Turkish courts usually question whether the decision sought to be enforced is an arbitration award or a court judgment as the conditions of enforcement are different. Based on the legal opinions of our colleague Mr. Andrey Kosmachevskiy, Remedy Law Office Saint Petersburg, who has kindly referred this case to us, and the court appointed expert (together “Legal Opinions”), Ankara Court ruled that the Saint Petersburg and Leningrad Region “Arbitrazh” Court was a commercial court, which had jurisdiction to hear disputes related to commercial and economic activities.
- Secondly, Ankara Court reviewed the reciprocity issue and based on the Legal Opinions took the view that although there were no treaties between two countries, Turkish court judgments could be enforced in Russia based on the principles of reciprocity and comity of nations and subject to conditions similar to those provided by Turkish law provisions on enforcement of foreign court judgements. Accordingly, Ankara Court ruled that the reciprocity condition was met.
- Ankara Court also reviewed the other conditions enumerated above and ruled that the judgment was not given on a matter, which was within the exclusive jurisdiction of Turkish courts, was not against Turkish public order and was given by observing the defendant’s right of defense.
The court ruling is important as it addresses all of the significant issues and will serve as a precedent for the enforcement of Russian court judgments in Turkey.
 Ankara 8th Commercial Court File No: 2020/347 Decision No: 2021/464
This Article aims to provide a brief and general overview of enforcement of foreign court judgments in Turkey, but does not intended to serve as a legal advice. Before taking any action or relying on the information given, addressees of this Article should seek specific advice on the matters which concern them.