With its decision No. 2019/17,969 and dated June 8, 2023 (“Decision“), the Constitutional Court ruled that the court’s dismissal of the lawsuit over lack of procedural prerequisite without giving the applicants the opportunity to correct it, because the applicants filed a quantifiable claim as an unquantified debt, violated the applicants’ right of access to the court. The Decision was published in the Official Gazette on October 6, 2023.
The applicants claimed their labor receivables as unquantified claims and the first instance court accepted these claims. However, on appeal, the 22nd Civil Chamber of the Supreme Court ruled that there was no legal standing for the applicants to file unquantified claims, as the claims are in fact quantifiable, and, therefore, the case should be dismissed on procedural grounds due to lack of procedural prerequisite. Accordingly, the 22th Civil Chamber of the Supreme Court overturned the decision of the first instance court. The first instance court complied with the Supreme Court’s decision, and then the applicants’ subsequent appeal requests were dismissed by the Supreme Court. During this 4-year period until the finalization of the decision, the statute of limitations for these receivables had expired. The applicants argued that their right of access to the court within the scope of the right to a fair trial guaranteed by the Constitution had been violated, as their case was dismissed without giving them the opportunity to convert their case into a full and quantified action and the statute of limitations for their receivables had expired during this period.
What Does the Decision Say?
In its Decision, the Constitutional Court referred to its previous decision on the same issue, İsmail Avcı, and examined whether the judgment in question constituted an unreasonable violation of the right of access to the court.
In this regard, the Constitutional Court examined whether the dismissal of the case was a proportionate limitation of the right. Considering the powers granted to the judge by the Code of Civil Procedure No. 6,100 on the correction of the statement of claim, the Constitutional Court noted that the procedural dismissal of the case cannot be considered as a last resort. Thus, the Constitutional Court held that the dismissal of the case on the grounds of lack of legal standing, without giving the applicants time and the right to correct their claims, was a disproportionate violation of the right of access to the court.
The Decision is available here (in Turkish).
There are conflicting decisions among the chambers of the Supreme Court on what to do if the quantifiable claims are filed as unquantified claims. While some chambers of the Supreme Court have ruled that in such case, the case should be dismissed due to a lack of legal standing, which is a procedural prerequisite, some chambers have ruled that the case may be continued by deeming the claimed amount as a partial claim and/or the claimant should be given time to explain the relief sought.
In this latest Decision, the Constitutional Court, in line with its previous İsmail Avcı decision (available here in Turkish), concluded that in situations where the unquantified claim is in fact quantifiable, it would be a violation of the right of access to the court if the court dismissed the case on the grounds of lack of legal standing without giving the applicants the opportunity to correct this situation.