Press Release No: Individual Application 12/21
Press Release concerning the Judgment Finding a Violation of the Right to Enforcement of Judgments for Declaration of a Finalized Court Decision Null and Void by the Civil Enforcement Court
On 2 December 2020, the Second Section of the Constitutional Court found a violation of the right to enforcement of judgments safeguarded by Article 36 of the Constitution in the individual application lodged by Ebru Çıtlak and Fazilet Demirbaş (no. 2017/37573).
At the end of the proceedings into an incident concerning the applicants, which occurred in 2004-2005, the criminal court ordered that the persons named H.İ.K. and A.İ. would pay the applicants non-pecuniary damages as well as reimburse the counsel fees. Upon appeal, the Court of Cassation quashed the criminal court’s decision on the ground that the statutory time limit set forth in the former Law no. 765 had expired and ultimately ordered the discontinuation of the criminal proceedings. However, the quashing judgment contained no consideration as to the non-pecuniary damages and counsel fees previously ordered to be paid to the applicants.
Thereafter, the applicants commenced enforcement proceedings for the collection of the said non-pecuniary damages and counsel fees. However, H.İ.K. and A.İ. applied to the civil enforcement court, seeking the annulment of the proceedings. The enforcement court accepted the case on the ground that the discontinuation of the proceedings ordered by the Court of Cassation had rendered null and void the consequences of the proceedings as a whole, and that therefore the claim for non-pecuniary damages and attorney fees was no longer valid. Since the decision was final, the applicants’ request for appeal was also rejected.
The Applicants’ Allegations
The applicants claimed that their right to enforcement of judgments had been violated, stating that the enforcement proceedings commenced for the collection of non-pecuniary damages and counsel fees awarded to them within the scope of the criminal proceedings had been rejected due to the order to discontinue the relevant criminal proceedings.
The Court’s Assessment
Considering the relevant statutory provisions and case-law, it is evident that the discontinuance of the criminal proceedings would not affect the personal action seeking redress for the damages sustained , that the criminal court’s decision insofar as it concerned the damages and counsel fees still remained in force, and that it was enforceable according to the principles laid down in the Enforcement and Bankruptcy Law no. 2004.
In these circumstances, the applicants have the right to demand the effective enforcement of the criminal court’s decision insofar as it concerned the damages and counsel fees awarded to them as well as respect for the consequences of the final decision, within the scope of the right to enforcement of judgments.
Although the criminal court’s decision insofar as it concerned the damages and counsel fees, which constituted a personal action, was still in force and the Court of Cassation made no decision to the contrary, the civil enforcement court interpreted the applicants’ case in a way which also rendered null and void the award of damages and counsel fees to the applicants through the criminal court’s decision.
In this case, the civil enforcement court rendered null and void a final court decision. Rendering a final court decision null and void by another court is against the wording and spirit of the Constitution. This is also devoid of a legal basis.
Consequently, the Court has found a violation of the right to enforcement of judgments.
This press release prepared by the General Secretariat intends to inform the public and has no binding effect.