Press Release No: Individual Application 40/21

Press Release concerning the Judgment Finding a Violation of the Right to Enforcement of a Judgment due to Declaration of a Final Court Decision Null and Void

On 24 February 2021, the Second Section of the Constitutional Court found a violation of the right to enforcement of a judgment within the scope of the right to a fair trial safeguarded by Article 36 of the Constitution in the individual application lodged by Remzi Saldıray (no. 2016/2377).

The Facts

The applicant was imposed two separate administrative fines as a result of the inspection carried out by the Directorate General for Insurance Affairs of the Social Security Institution (“the Institution”) at the former’s workplace. Although the applicant objected to each fine respectively, the Institution did not respond to his objections. In the meantime, the applicant split his debt into instalments and paid it off without prejudice. The applicant subsequently challenged the impugned fines before the magistrates’ court. Following the dismissal of his request, the applicant successfully appealed to the assize court, and the impugned fines were annulled.

Afterwards, relying on the assize court’s final decision, the applicant initiated enforcement proceedings seeking the reimbursement of the amount he had paid to the Institution. After the Institution’s partial challenge against the impugned debt, the applicant successfully applied for the dismissal of the challenge before the labour court. However, upon the Institution’s appeal, the Court of Cassation quashed the assize court’s decision, stating that it should be declared null and void for the latter’s lack of jurisdiction in regard to the annulment of administrative fines. The labour court, complying with the Court of Cassation’s judgment, dismissed the applicant’s case.

The Applicant’s Allegations

The applicant claimed that his right to a fair trial had been violated, stating that the final court decision had been declared null and void, which had therefore not been enforced.

The Court’s Assessment

Res judicata, that is the principle of the finality of judgments, is recognised as one of the general principles of international law. The obligation to enforce the judicial decisions without delay, as enshrined in the last paragraph of Article 138 of the Constitution, is also a requirement of the principle of res judicata, which is accepted as one of the general principles of law.

The applicant’s appeal before the magistrates’ court, seeking the annulment of the administrative fines, was dismissed as time-barred. The assize court, revoking the magistrates’ court’s decision, annulled the administrative fines with final effect. It is set forth in Article 271 of Code of Criminal Procedure no. 5271 (Code no. 5271) that the decisions of the assize court rendered upon appeal shall be final.

The conditions under which a final decision rendered by a criminal court will be annulled is regulated under Part Three of Code no. 5271, titled "Extraordinary Legal Remedies".

It is clear that in the present case, it is necessary to examine whether a final court decision was nullified to the detriment of one of the parties. There is no information or document within the case file indicating that the extraordinary legal remedies had been exhausted to challenge the assize court’s decision. In this regard, there is no doubt that the assize court’s decision was final, binding and enforceable.

The labour court’s dismissal of the applicant’s case by declaring null and void the assize court’s decision which formed the legal basis for the applicant’s receivable, deprived the applicant of his right to enforcement of a final and binding court decision favourable to him.

Consequently, the Court has found a violation of the right to enforcement of a judgment.

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