Turkish consumer law– Legal persons as consumers

Doutrina

The Directive 2011/83/EU on Consumer Rights (Hereinafter the directive) came into force in 2011 after a long drafting period. The Act on Consumer Protection no. 6502 (Hereinafter, TCPA) that came into force in Turkey on 07.11.2013 resembles the Directive on Consumer Rights. The TCPA changed some of the main points of consumer law in Turkey. However, when the Turkish Grand National Assembly was harmonizing the new act with the Directive, even though to the principle of full compliance, they expanded the definition of “consumer”. This blog post summarizes the main difference in this definition and some of its consequences on daily life.

According to the definition provided for in article 2 of the Directive, a consumer is “…any natural person who, in contracts covered by this Directive, is acting for purposes which are outside his trade, business, craft or profession”. However, in article 3(k) of TCPA natural or legal persons who act for purposes outside his/her trade, business, craft, or profession are qualified as consumers.[1] For consumers who are natural persons, Turkish consumer law is in line with EU law. However, the striking difference in the definition of “consumer” between the EU consumer law and Turkish consumer law is that while only natural persons are considered as consumers in EU law, legal persons can also be consumers in Turkish consumer law under some circumstances.

This leads to legal persons who do not aim for commercial and business transactions to benefit from consumer rights. In other words, each legal person who obtains goods and services for his/her special/private needs and purposes without seeking profit and commercial purposes is considered a consumer in Turkish law.

In cases where it is difficult for the seller/supplier to determine whether the other party of the contract is a consumer or not, the Turkish Court of Cassation states the nature of the contract should be determined by looking at the conditions at the time of the conclusion of the contract. It also states that the “business associations” (i.e. general partnership, limited partnership, company, cooperatives, etc.) can also be considered as consumers. However, the business association should clearly state to the other party that it is using the good or service for consumption purposes at the time the contract is concluded, or this situation should be clearly understandable by the counterparty.

What happens if a legal person uses the goods or services with a mixed purpose? The Turkish Court of Cassation states that if the goods and services are used for both private and commercial purposes by the legal person, they can not benefit from consumer rights, moreover, they are not considered as consumers. As a matter of fact, the Court of Cassation has stated in one of its decisions[2] that a commercial partnership that purchased a vehicle in its own name and used this vehicle in the business and sometimes in a private manner can not be qualified as a consumer. The private purpose shall be pure without any business purpose and shall be used for non-commercial purposes.

In the light of these explanations, Turkish law departs from the scope of application of the Directive in terms of legal persons. Therefore, although the principle of full compliance is violated at this point, there is a deviation in Turkish consumer law from EU law in favor of the consumer. I consider it as a positive step in consumer law.


[1] See Turkish Consumer Protection Act no. 6502 https://www.mevzuat.gov.tr/MevzuatMetin/1.5.6502.pdf .

[2] The Turkish Court of Cassation, 13.HD, 1815 E., 5112 K.