There are no clear rules under Turkish law about legal professional privilege. The Rules of the Legal Profession and Turkish Law
Some guidelines on the confidentiality of sensitive and protected information is provided by the Criminal Procedure Law.
Next, the Rule of the Legal Profession governs the obligation of confidentiality of a lawyer. Article 36 of the Law on Legal Profession states that it is illegal for a lawyer to reveal information obtained from the client. This clause governs the general responsibility of confidentiality that often applies in the applicable laws of other occupations in general (ie doctors and certified public accountants).
Secondly, Article 130 of the Turkish Criminal Procedure Law entitled ‘The search and seizure of lawyers’ offices and the seizure of mail’ specifically provides that: ‘If, at the end of the search, the lawyer whose office is checked or the president of the Bar or the lawyer representing him objects to the search for the things to be confiscated by arguing that those items apply to the professio at the end of the search If the judge finds that the confiscated items are privileged by the arrangement between the lawyer and the client, the seized item shall be returned to the lawyer immediately and the transcripts of the communications shall be destroyed. The decisions referred to in this subparagraph are to be released within 24 hours.’
The lawyer is entitled, pursuant to the above article, not to permit the confiscation of a client-related document by alleging legal status.
Professional prerogative. The document should be enclosed in an envelope in such a case and the Court would determine if the alleged document is in fact protected by legal professional privilege. The lawyer can expressly demand legal professional privilege.
In addition, in one of its decisions (which is discussed in depth below), the Supreme Court acknowledged the responsibility of confidentiality within the framework of Article 6/3(c) of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Since the responsibility of confidentiality in Turkish law is deemed to be in the public interest, it extends to all lawsuits and inquiries, including antitrust investigations. In civil cases, criminal trials and competition proceedings, legal professional privilege, as mentioned above, applies. The Turkish Competition Board, accordingly, operates within the framework of its administrative procedures in compliance with these general rules.
Legal professional privilege extends to all information exchanges, without any time limits, between a client and their counsel about the right of protection of the client. The Constitutional Court agrees that all information received in relation to health conditions, economic conditions and personal information, including the place of residence of the client and presented to the lawyer in relation to his occupation, falls within the scope of legal professional privilege.
The lawyer must be an outside attorney member of the Bar, and the relevant document must be created within the boundaries of a lawyer/client relationship, in order to assert that a document falls within the scope of legal professional privilege.
Legal professional privilege laws also extend to lawyers who are not qualified in Turkey but who are engaged in business in Turkey in compliance with the Law on the Professional Profession, since they are subject to the professional rules laid down in the Law on the Legal Profession.
The Legal Profession Law notes that if this is in the best interest of the client, legal professional privilege rights may be waived.
In one of its decisions (dated 13.10.2009 and numbered 09-46/1154-290), the Turkish Competition Board assessed legal professional right and adopted an approach close to that of the European Commission. In its decision, the Competition Board stated that, in order to find the information confidential, the lawyer must be autonomous and the relevant document must be generated within the framework of the relationship between the lawyer and the client. In the second place, the Competition Board claimed that the details must be subject to the client’s right of protection.
In addition, to make such information privileged, there must be a causal relation between the lawyer’s practice and the information received.
It was held in a judgment of the Constitutional Court (dated 14.11.2011, merit number 2009/19013 and decision number 2011/21017) that the Supreme Court found that the lawyer could avoid revealing his client’s whereabouts in compliance with the responsibilities laid down in the Law on the Practice and the European Convention on Human Rights. The Constitutional Court claimed that the ‘client-lawyer partnership’ is the essence of confidence and loyalty. In addition, the parties can, according to the decision, lift their objections not only to the judicial organs of the Turkish Republic, but also to the administrative organs.