The highest level of judicial bodies in Turkey, the Court of Cassation and the Constitutional Court, set new precedence on “unquantified debt actions” used for the amounts of debt that cannot be exactly calculated or known prior to the litigation process.
The action for an unquantified debt is frequently preferred in disputes arising from contractual relationships, whether the obligation arises from employment law, private law or other legal areas. An action for unquantified debt can be initiated in cases where the debt cannot be fully and definitely quantified before litigation proceedings start, on the condition that the requirements set out in Article 107 of the Legal Procedure Law (“LPL”) are met.
However, a controversial and very topic that arises in cases based on an action for unquantified debt is the court’s decision to reject the case based on the argument that the debt is, in fact, quantifiable.
In such cases, the decision to reject the lawsuit has serious consequences, considering that evaluating whether the debt is quantifiable is a highly vague process.
These decision result in a second lawsuit being initiated, give rise to debates on legal time limits and consequently have detrimental effects on the claims and rights of the claimant.
The judiciary must develop a new approach to this subject and resolve the ongoing problems. The Constitutional Court has recently established a new approach regarding this matter. The same approach has been adopted by the General Assembly of Court Cassation, constituting a milestone towards eliminating the current problems.
Constitutional Court Decision on Abscence of Legal Benefit in Lawsuits Based on Unquantified Debt Actions
The Constitutional Court decision dated 2022 makes it clear that rejecting lawsuits based on unquantified debt actions by relying on the absence of legal benefit has serious consequences concerning the right to access the court stipulated in the Constitution. According to the Constitutional Court personal application decision dated 22.2.2022 with application number 2019/12190, rejecting unquantified debt actions because of lacking a condition to sue violates the right to access the court protected by Art. 36 of the Constitution.
Even if an unquantified debt action is initiated by mistake, the Constitutional Court and the General Assembly of the Court of Cassation consider rejecting the case due to the absence of legal benefit, a violation of fundamental rights. The mentioned decisions will have huge significance in practice when it comes to preventing the loss of rights arising from the vagueness in this area and the strict approach of the judiciary, which has been present until now.
The Constitutional Court Decision
The Court of Cassation Decision (Yargıtay Hukuk Genel Kurulu 2019/220 Esas sayılı 2022/276 Karar sayılı 24/3/2022 K. Tarihli Kararı)