What is a defective product?
For the purposes of this guide we mean any item that you buy but which turns out not to work properly or which causes you loss or damage because it is defective, or any product belonging to some other person that causes you loss or damage.
For example, if you were unlucky enough to have an artificial hip fitted and it were to snap as a result of fault in manufacture, you can imagine how painful and expensive that could be. That would be a defective product. Similarly, if less dramatically, a watch or a car could break down very soon after purchase.
As to products that don’t belong to you, if you suffer injury as a result of a defective product belonging to somebody else you would also be able to claim compensation. For example, if you were sitting in a restaurant and a chair collapsed under you because of defective design you can file a claim against both the restaurant and the designer or supplier of the chair.
The basis of liability in these cases is usually that the person you’re claiming against did not comply with the terms of their contract with you or that they were negligent in the way they dealt with you.
Under Turkish law it is an implied term of every contract that anything you buy is fit for the purpose for which it was sold. This is a term that you cannot sign away.
So, if the hospital sold you the defective hip or the garage sold you the defective car you may well have a claim against them under this general principle of law.
What are my general rights in Turkey?
Generally, if you receive defective goods, you will have the following rights:
- Return the goods and receive a refund
- Keep the goods and ask for a reduction in the price
- Ask for the item to be repaired
- Ask for the goods to be exchanged
- Seek compensation- through the civil courts – for any losses you have suffered (e.g. if a defective tyre causes your car to crash)
What sort of injury or damage can I claim for in Turkey?
You can claim for any injury or damage caused to you or your property as a result of being supplied a product that was not fit for the purpose for which it was sold, or which was sold to you negligently.
An example of a negligent sale of a product would be if you described to the shop what your requirements were and they advised you to buy a product that was not suitable for those requirements – e.g., if you bought a jack to lift up your 3-tonne Land Rover and the shop recommended one only suitable only for a 1-tonne Mini. Then, when it collapsed, you would be able to claim from the shop on the basis of their negligence.
The claim could involve injury to you or your family, damage to your goods, pain, inconvenience, or unnecessary expense.
Who can I claim against?
The claim will lie against the supplier of the product. In some cases, you may have a claim against the manufacturer of the product. Your lawyer will be able to advise you of the best approach in your case.
If a defect occurs within six months of the date of delivery of a product, it is assumed to have been there when the product was delivered and so your right to take action is preserved.
When can I make my claim?
Generally, a claim must be made within two years of the date when you suffered any damage but there is a five-year limitation period for any claims arising out of a dwelling or holiday home.
If the defect was hidden (a legal term that can be quite difficult to understand – and the meaning of which can vary quite a lot depending on the type of product – but which will generally mean a defect that could not have been discovered by a reasonable inspection of the product) then the time during which you can make a claim can extend for up to 20 years or for two years from the time when you discovered the defect.
How much will it cost?
It is impossible to say as so much depends upon the individual facts of each case. Your lawyer should be able to give you an estimate but it will be only an estimate.
There is no form of public legal assistance in Turkey for this type of case.
Note also that ‘no win, no fee’ arrangements are illegal in Turkey.
How long will it take?
Again, it is very hard to predict. Sometimes the facts will be so obvious that the company concerned, or its insurers, will agree quite quickly to a payment in settlement of the claim. In other cases, the case will have to go to trial, in which case it could take two or three years.
Even in a simple case, the process is not likely to take less than six months.
What happens if I lose a defective product case in Turkey?
As with all court cases, if you bring a case against somebody and lose, you are likely to have to pay their legal expenses. These can amount to a lot of money.
You should, therefore, seek guidance from your lawyers as to the strength of your case and the prospects of winning. Do not be afraid to push them quite hard to give you clear advice on this point.
Note that in Turkey it is not possible to insure against the risk of having to pay such expenses.