You can learn about disputes & court cases in Turkey by watching the interview (below) with Turkish lawyer Başak Yıldız Orkun, or by scrolling down and reading the detailed guide that she has written with us.
The video guide below is a playlist – split into several parts. One part will play right after the other.
The good news is that Turkey has a good legal system that can help you resolve disputes reasonably quickly and at a price that is not too exorbitant.
Preventing a dispute
There are four golden rules when it comes to avoiding disputes.
1. Deal with trustworthy people
Disputes tend to fall into three categories. Disputes in relation to business (for example, when you buy a car); disputes between neighbours; and disputes with your family.
You can’t choose your neighbours or your family but you can choose the people with whom you do business.
Before you enter into any business relationship it’s worth finding out a bit (or a lot) about the person or company you are going to be dealing with. The internet can help greatly. It’s surprising how often a Google search for the name of the person or company and “problems” will produce some very interesting information.
If the other person or company is engaged in an activity that requires a licence or regulation, make sure that they are duly licensed and regulated. If you can’t readily find that information on the internet, it is worth consulting a lawyer to ask that very specific question. Often – if the lawyer thinks you are a client who will bring further business – there will be no charge for that preliminary advice. On other occasions, it might cost you €100 or so.
Very often, when you are discussing a project with the other person, you will feel uneasy. There may be something about either the project or the person that you do not like or which just doesn’t seem quite right. Trust your instincts. You will frequently be right.
Do not be afraid to ask for references. A few words with a previous customer who received good service or a current ‘partner’ or supplier is very reassuring. Giving references is common practice in Turkey.
2. Clear contracts
When you are entering into any business relationship it is worth having a clear contract – almost always in writing – and then making sure that you understand and follow the contract.
The main purpose of the contract is to allow both parties to understand what they have agreed and then to remember it, sometimes many months or years later.
When you read the contract make sure that it covers all aspects of your relationship and the situations which are likely to arise during the contract. Make a list of what you need to achieve and how you are going to do it and then make sure the contract covers those points. Make a list of the things that might go wrong and make sure that the contract covers them.
If your agreement relates to something particularly valuable or important it is worth taking legal advice about the wording of the contract and any background checks necessary. It will cost you a great deal less than sorting out any dispute that might later arise.
3. Keep in contact.
During the whole period in which you are dealing with the other person, make sure that you stay in contact. A few telephone calls to check that everything is still in order, that a delivery date is still going to be met etc. gives the opportunity to deal with any lurking problems quickly, easily and without too much embarrassment before people’s positions have become entrenched.
During these phone calls or, better still, during face-to-face visits, be friendly, be inquisitive and be prepared to reach common sense solutions to any problems that emerge.
It is much more difficult to get involved in a serious conflict with someone if you know them and like them.
Keeping in contact is important in almost every country, but it is particularly important in Turkey where good business is often built upon personal contacts and connections.
4. Nip disputes in the bud.
If a dispute arises take immediate action to solve it.
Usually, disputes arise because of the unexpected. Perhaps a cost has arisen in a project that had not been anticipated, or the person supplying a service to you has been let down by somebody supplying him. Sometimes there’s a genuine disagreement as to the meaning of the words in your contract.
In either case, you will do yourself a favour by taking action as soon as a disagreement appears and before it turns into a full-blown dispute.
Once again, the secret is to discuss the problem with the other party and then to try to find a practical, cheap and common sense solution to it. This will require flexibility and compromise from both parties but any cost is likely to be way less than the cost of dealing with a fully-fledged dispute.
Whatever you do, if you reach an agreement to solve a problem, document it thoroughly. Otherwise you’ll find yourself in the same position in six months’ time!