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HomeSéparateurFocusSéparateurInstitutionsSéparateurCouncil of EuropeSéparateurTwo Members of the UIHJ on Mission in Turkey for the Council of Europe
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Two Members of the UIHJ on Mission in Turkey for the Council of Europe

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From 4 to 10 May 2008, Mathieu Chardon, 1st Secretary of the UIHJ and Jos Uitdehaag, 1st Quaestor of the UIHJ, Went to Antalya and Bodrum For a Needs Assessment Visit Within the Framework of a Joint Program of the Council of Europe and the European Union on the Support to the Court Management System in Turkey.

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The experts with Osman Varaloglu, Chief Public Prosecutor of the Courthouse of Antalya (Fourth from left)
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Technical Assistance

The object of this project, implemented by the Council of Europe and financed by the European Union, in co-operation with the Ministry of Justice of Turkey, is to provide the Turkish ministry of justice with a technical assistance for the improvement of the functioning and efficiency of the Turkish judiciary in line with European standards. This project began in December 2007. It is at its first phase of evaluation. The aim of the mission was to get familiar with the current mode of functioning of the system in order to identify its deficiencies.

It is within this framework that, once again, the Council of Europe turned to its regular experts for eight years now, Mathieu Chardon (France) and Jos Uitdehaag (Netherlands), members of the UIHJ. The Council of Europe was also helped by an assembly of other experts of the European Union (Peter Gilles, professor at the Faculty of Law of Frankfurt, Germany, and Peter Hadler, Judge in Vienna, Austria) and of Turkey: Gülsüm Misir, enforcement judge, Okan Tadelen, Judge at the ministry of justice, Gökcen Topuz, law professor, Hatice Kara, Judge, Seyit Camlibel, director of the enforcement office of Eskisehir. The team of experts was supplemented by Cuneyd Er (Council of Europe) and two local experts, Mustafa Liker Gürkan and Turgay Soyer. The mission was masterly lead by Manfred Buric, resident expert of the Council of Europe in Turkey. Lastly, one should not forget the four interpreters whose quality of work was unanimously acknowledged by all: Ragip Duran, Sezin Tekin, Verda Kivrak and Sasha Karadeniz.

Uyap: A Very Ambitious Computer System

On the basis of about fifty interviews with as many judges, enforcement judges, enforcement agents, directors and deputy directors of enforcement offices of Antalya and Bodrum, the Council of Europe experts could get acquainted with and look further into their knowledge of the enforcement system of civil decisions in Turkey. Beforehand, the experts were successively greeted by Osman Vuraloglu and Omür Topaç, respectively Chief Public Prosecutors of the courthouses of Antalya and Bodrum.

Enforcement is entrusted to enforcement offices. Offices are located within courthouses. Each office generally includes a director, two deputy-directors and two enforcement agents in charge of carrying out enforcement measures. According to the size of the jurisdiction, one or several offices are constituted. In Antalya, a jurisdiction of 700 000 inhabitants, there are seven offices. In Bodrum (50 000 local inhabitants but a population of over a million during summer and fall), only two offices are open.

According to the Turkish law, once judgment is given, it is up to the creditor to ask for its enforcement near the competent enforcement office. The case is automatically allotted by a very ambitious computing system, called Uyap, aiming at connecting all actors of the legal world and citizens.

One of the characteristics of the Turkish system is that it is not necessary for a creditor to hold a judgment or another legal decision to implement an enforcement measure. When a citizen estimates to be a creditor, in particular when there is a contract (invoice, check, rent, loan, etc.), he can address directly to the director of the local enforcement office. After examination of the request, the director will establish a payment order which will be notified to the debtor. In the absence of contest, enforcement measures can then soon start, without any form of lawsuit. Approximately 90% of enforcement cases actually result from payment orders, and only 10% of the cases come from traditional legal decisions.

Major Obstacles to the Efficiency of the System

There are several current major obstacles to the efficiency of the system. These obstacles are unanimously denounced by the whole of the interviewed parties. There are about a constant increase of cases and workload, of a chronic lack of staff and of insufficient qualification. On top of this, wages are considered too low compared to the demanded work and required competences. Enforcement offices also face difficult working conditions (lack of space) and a general a poor image from citizens or lawyers. Besides, most of the interviewees did not hide their distress when faced with these difficulties, in spite of their courageous and intangible will to carry out their difficult mission, often at the price of great personal sacrifices (most of the personnel has to work on Saturdays and even on Sundays).

It is also important to point out the lack of representation of the profession at national level. The enforcement offices are autonomous and independent from each other, even if all employees are civil servants of the ministry of justice.
Obviously, this system, which must face an ever unceasing workload, has met its limits. To which type of system will our Turkish fellow-members turn? It will be up to them to decide. In any case, the Council of Europe has for objective to make it possible for the Turkish legal system to be in adequacy with European standards, being those set by the 27 Member States of the Union European or those recommended by the 47 Member States of the Council of Europe through the Recommendation Rec (2003)17 of 9 September 2003 on enforcement.

Both Council of Europe and Turkey can count on the unconditional support of the UIHJ in this important and necessary matter.
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The Courthouse of Antalya
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Manfred Buric, Resident Expert of the Council of Europe in Turkey
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Omür Topaç, Chief Public Prosecutor of the Courthouse of Bodrum
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During an interview
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An enforcement office in Antalya
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Thousands of cases
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The Courthouse of Bodrum
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A view of Bodrum from the Castle
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