COVID-19 Effect on Arrest of Ships
On 25.03.2020, The Grand National Assembly of Turkey enacted the Law numbered 7226 for the amendments on certain Codes as well as suspension of the procedural deadlines on the purpose of preventing loss of any judicial rights due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
With regard to suspension of the procedural deadlines, enforcement of precautionary attachment orders has been suspended as of 22.03.2020 until 30.04.2020 under the provisional article 1 of the abovementioned Law. In addition, pursuant to said provisional article, if the COVID-19 pandemic continues, suspension period may be extended up to 6 months for once by the President and the scope of said extension period may be restricted.
However, it is still possible for the claimant to apply to the competent Turkish Court for precautionary attachment/arrest order on the ship, and to obtain the order if the statutory conditions are satisfied. Nevertheless, said order cannot be enforced until 30.04.2020. In such respect, should the suspension period is not extended by the President, any arrest order will become enforceable as of 04.05.2020.
In addition to the above, this also brings us to a question whether the arrest order, which has been already written to the Port Authorities by the Execution Office but has not been applied as the ship has not yet arrived to any of the Turkish ports, can be enforceable or not until 30.04.2020. In our view, the said arrest order will be applied by the Turkish Port Authorities and the ship will not be allowed to sail. In such respect, the ship may only be released either by paying the debt or by depositing security. Pursuant to the abovementioned provisional article 1, payments are accepted during the suspension period and any of the parties to the execution proceeding may request the actions in favor of the other party to be enforced. Therefore, making payment to the file of the Execution Office, or depositing security to release the ship is possible within the suspension period, however, the ship owners may experience delays as the courts and Execution Offices are not functioning as per normal due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.
We will update yourselves accordingly if the suspension period will be extended.
Please do not hesitate to contact us for further inquiries.
Author: Ece Melike Yüce