The arrest of vessels in Turkey is mainly governed by the provisions of the Turkish Commercial Code, which entered into force on 1 July 2012 (“TCC”. During the preparatory work, the drafting committee of the TCC had taken into account the provisions of the International Convention on the Arrest of Ships 1999 (“1999 Convention”) although Turkey had not ratified the 1999 Convention at that time. As a result, the arrest regime under the TCC reflects the provisions of the 1999 Convention. Following the entry into force of the TCC, Turkey has also ratified the 1999 Convention as well as the International Convention on Maritime Liens and Mortgages 1993
This Article intends to give an overview of the Turkish ship arrest rules and procedure.
1. Jurisdiction for the arrest
The TCC provides for specific rules of jurisdiction for arrest. Accordingly, the court at the port of call or place of anchorage or berthing or mooring or drydocking shall have exclusive jurisdiction to hear arrest applications (For Turkish flag vessels, the courts at the place of registry of the vessel shall also have jurisdiction). This provision will prevent Claimants from making arrest applications to courts of their choosing in advance of the vessel’s arrival.
2. Claims in respect of which a ship may be arrested
A ship may only be arrested in respect of a closed list of 22 “maritime claims”, which are enumerated exhaustively under TCC. Maritime claims in respect of which a ship may be arrested under the TCC as follows:
(a) loss or damage caused by the operation of the ship
(b) loss of life or personal injury
(d) damage or threat of damage to environment
(e) wreck removal
(f) any agreement relating to the use or hire of the ship
(g) any agreement relating to the carriage of goods or passengers
(h) loss of or damage to or in connection with goods carried on board the ship;
(i) general average;
(l) goods, materials, provisions, bunkers, equipment (including containers) supplied or services rendered
(m) construction, reconstruction, repair, converting or equipping of the ship;
(n) port, canal, dock, harbour and other waterway dues and charges;
(o) crew wages
(p) disbursements incurred on behalf of the ship or its owners, including the loans obtained for the vessel;
(q) insurance premiums;
(r) any commissions, brokerages or agency fees
(s) any dispute as to ownership or possession of the ship;
(t) any dispute between co-owners of the ship as to the employment or earnings of the ship;
(u) a mortgage or a “hypothèque” or a charge of the same nature on the ship;
(v) any dispute arising out of a contract for the sale of the ship.
The above list is the same as the maritime claims listed in Article 1 of the International Convention on the Arrest of Ships 1999. The only difference is related to Art 1 (p) of the Convention: According to Art 1 (p) refers to claims arising out of “disbursements incurred on behalf of the ship or its owners” whereas the TCC specifically provides that the loans obtained for the vessel will be also be covered thereunder.
3. Ships that may be arrested
The ship against which the maritime claim arises may be arrested on the condition that the “owner” of that ship is the debtor. By the term “owner”, the registered owner should be understood. In contrast to the 1999 Convention, the TCC does not permit the arrest of the ship for the debts of the demise charterer or any other charterer or manager on the grounds that under Turkish law a judgment in respect of that claim cannot be enforced against a ship which is not owned by the person liable for that claim. If the claim is secured by a maritime lien or a mortgage or a charge of the same nature or if the claim relates to the ownership or possession of the ship, the arrest of the ship shall be permissible even if the owner is not personally liable for the debt.
In addition to the ship against which the maritime claim arises, “sister ships” may also be arrested under the TCC. The provisions of the TCC in relation to the arrest of sister ships are similar to the conditions provided under Art 3.2 of the 1999 Convention.
Regardless of the claim amount, a fixed countersecurity of 10.000SDR has to be lodged before the court along with the arrest application. The countersecurity may be increased or decreased by the court at a later stage upon the application of the parties.
5. Procedure for arrest
The application for arrest must be filed before the competent courts with jurisdiction for arrest. The claimant must present documents evidencing a possible maritime claim and the amount of the claim and must lodge the countersecurity along with the application. The court can give an arrest order based on the ex parte application of the claimant without service of the application to the opponents. Once granted, the claimant must apply to the competent Bailiff within three working days as from the date of the arrest order failing which the arrest shall automatically become invalid. The arrest order is enforced by the Bailiff Office immediately upon the application of the claimant.
6. Action in merits
Under the TCC, the action in merits has to be filed within one month before the court or arbitration tribunal that has jurisdiction in merits. In addition to the other rules for jurisdiction, the TCC explicitly provides that the arrest itself confers international jurisdiction to the Turkish court which has given the arrest order to hear the action in merits of the claim.
7. Action in merits
The vessel may be released by putting up a security covering the claim amount, interest accrued and costs. The security may be in the form of cash or bank letter of guarantee. In the event that the parties agree on another form of security such as a P&I letter, that may be possible as well.
It is also possible to file an objection against the arrest if the arrest order is given based on the ex parte application of the arrestor. The objection may be filed either before the court that has given the arrest order or if an action in merit has been filed before a Turkish court, before that court. If the action in merits is filed before an arbitral tribunal or a foreign court, the objection may be filed before the court that has granted the arrest order.
This Article aims to provide a brief and general overview of the Turkish arrest rules, 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.
 Turkish Commercial Code Law No: 6102 published in the Official Gazette dated 14 February 2011 numbered 27846
 The Ratification Law related to “1999 Convention” Law No: 6904 published in the Official Gazette dated 25 March 2017 numbered 30018
 The Ratification Law related to “International Convention on Maritime Liens and Mortgages 1993” Law No: 6940 published in the Official Gazette dated 25 March 2017 numbered 30018