Mediation Developments in Turkey
Mediation was first introduced into the Turkish legal system with the enactment of the Law on Mediation in Civil Disputes number 6325 (2013). Under Turkish law, only trained and accredited lawyers can become mediators and be listed in the registry of the Ministry of Justice. From when the law came into force in 2013 until 2017, approximately 21,500 mediations occurred, of which 19,250 settled.
Mediation statistics show that more than 90% of those mediations involved employment disputes. For this reason, a law requiring mandatory mediation in employment disputes has been implemented.
Mandatory mediation in employment disputes
The new Turkish “Labor Courts Law” titled “Mediation as a precondition for filing a case” came into force on January 1, 2018. The law essentially requires litigants in various types of employment disputes to first attempt to settle the case via mediation.
Under this law, mediation offices are established in major courthouses to receive mediation applications and appoint a mediator. Applications are processed free of charge. Only mediators who are trained in employment disputes can be registered on the list of specialized mediators and can be appointed to these types of cases. Under the law, mediators must conclude the process within three weeks following the appointment, although this period can be extended for an additional week in exceptional cases.
Statistics show that the number of cases filed in employment courts decreased from 120,000 in the first 6 months of 2017 to 31,668 for the same period of 2018. By July of 2018, the number of mediated disputes had reached 163,557 of which 72,750 were settled.
Further integration of mediation into the legal system
There is a strong commitment by the Turkish government to integrate mediation into the legal system to a wider extent. Encouraged by the results so far, the government’s plan is to expand mediation for use in commercial and consumer disputes. While challenges exist in the varying quality of mediation training, and there have been some examples of mediator misconduct, mediation is developing rapidly in Turkey, and mediation awareness is increasing within Turkish society.
Turkey’s unique access to the global north and south makes mediation development in the country particularly significant. In accordance with Atatürk’s well-known motto “Peace at home, peace in the world,” dispute resolution processes that help decrease disputes within Turkish society suggest the possibility that the development of mediation in Turkey could have a broader application in conflict management throughout the region.
By Tuba Bilecik and Aşiyan Süleymanoğlu, Senior Fellows-Turkey, Weinstein International Foundation