Press Release No: Plenary Assembly 20/20

Press Release concerning the Decision Annulling the Provision whereby the Court Decisions Issued upon Objection to An Administrative Fine are Considered Final

The Constitutional Court, at its session dated 1 October 2020, found unconstitutional and annulled the sentence “The court decisions issued upon objection shall be final”, which is set forth in Article 8 § 4 of the Law no. 4708 on Construction Inspection (file no. E.2020/21).

Contested Provision

The contested provision sets forth that the decisions issued by courts upon objection to administrative fines that have been imposed on construction inspection authorities shall be final.

Ground for the Request for Annulment

It was maintained that the contested provision was unconstitutional as the administrative fines, subject-matter of the court decisions envisaged to be final in the contested provision, might be in excessive amounts and that these decisions therefore must be subject to appellate review.

The Court’s Assessment

In consideration of Articles 36, 154 and 155 of the Constitutions as a whole, it appears that the right to appellate review of court decisions by another judicial authority is safeguarded under the right to legal remedies enshrined in Article 36 of the Constitution, without being subject to any restriction by the subject-matter of the proceedings. Accordingly, the right to appellate review of a decision is applicable to all proceedings either based on a criminal charge or concerning civil rights and obligations. 

However, in cases of criminal conviction, the need for the appellate review of court decisions is of more importance. Nevertheless, the notions such as offence, penalty and conviction are not necessarily considered, in a classic and technical meaning, to be specific merely to criminal proceedings. In other words, these notions may be given an autonomous interpretation in the constitutional context. 

As a matter of fact, pursuant to the Court’s case-law established in the individual application judgments, given the severity of the administrative sanctions which are not indeed prescribed as a sanction of criminal law and are not subject-matter of conventional criminal proceedings, they may also qualify as a penalty through an autonomous interpretation in the constitutional context. In this sense, certain cases that are filed with respect to administrative fines and dealt with in the administrative jurisdiction have been also examined under the scope of criminal charge in the meaning of the right to a fair trial.

The contested provision, which envisages that the court decisions issued upon objection to an administrative fine shall be final, constitutes a restriction on the right to appellate review of a decision by another court.

It appears that the administrative fines imposed pursuant to Law no. 4708 may be in excessive amounts. It is therefore clear that the administrative fines in excessive amounts are in the form of a severe and serious sanction, given their effect on the financial situation of the concerned individual; and that they therefore amount to a punishment. In this sense, the importance attached to the appellate review of such decisions, which may cause the relevant individual to face a severe penalty in financial terms, cannot be denied.

The burden placed on individuals for not making such decisions subject to an appellate review cannot be justified even for the purpose of concluding the proceedings within a reasonable time and for reasons of judicial economy. It has been accordingly considered that the contested provision imposes a disproportionate restriction on the right to appellate review of a court decision.

Consequently, the contested provision has been found unconstitutional and therefore annulled.

This press release prepared by the General Secretariat intends to inform the public and has no binding effect.