Speaking at the 10th International Arbitration Seminar of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) at the TOBB University of Economics and Technology in Ankara, the minister announced that “the draft bill for an İstanbul Arbitration Center is ready, and was discussed by the Cabinet in March.”
The bill, the draft of which was referred to the Office of the Prime Ministry on March 1 of last year, prescribes the foundation of an autonomous, independent arbitration center in İstanbul, with the capacity to compete in the international arena. Ergin said the bill would be referred to Parliament shortly.
Another alternative effort on the part of the Ministry of Justice with the intention of settling disputes outside the courts of law is the Draft Bill on Mediation in Legal Disputes. Considering the bill to be an important step, Ergin stated that the bill would allow disputes to be settled in a simple, quick, efficient and economical way. Foreigners will also be able to make use of the bill, which was adopted by the parliamentary Justice Commission on April 26, in the area of private law.
Adding that he expected the bill to come before Parliament by June at the latest, Ergin announced, “Both national and international legal disputes will be able to be solved through the mediation institution.” The justice minister also stressed that thanks to the widespread use of alternative methods, the peaceful settlement of disputes will became part of our judicial culture, paving the way for the development of the culture of conciliation, and thereby to peaceful coexistence in society. Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu, president of the Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges (TOBB), and the ICC Turkish National Committee, noted that all Turkish companies, whether big or small, need the arbitration center as an institution as they open to global markets, and called on the government to make agreements with countries which are trade partners for international arbitration to be adopted as a dispute settlement method over domestic legislation. He complained that some countries might be giving priority in trade disputes to their national interests rather than to justice.
Hisarcıklıoğlu drew attention to the fact that international arbitration has gained wider acceptance in recent years, and urged that applications of arbitration should be further developed in Turkey. Emphasizing the importance of arbitration for cities in building a name for themselves, he remarked, “Cities such as Paris, Geneva and London have become brands thanks to the arbitration institutions based there.”John Beechey, president of the ICC Court of Arbitration, one of the leading arbitration centers in the world, said in his speech at the seminar that 800 new cases each year came before the ICC for arbitration and around 900 arbitrators from 88 countries serve at the ICC. Until a couple of years ago, the number of Turkish arbitrators appointed to ICC cases was no more than two, while the figure had increased to 14 by 2011. Alternative dispute settlement methods such as arbitration and mediation are expected not only to help substantially in the development of business relationships and the settlement of disputes relating to them in Turkey but also to serve to strengthen people’s sense of justice by offering fast and efficient solutions, while decreasing the workload of the courts of law considerably.