The Data Protection Law does not include an explicit provision concerning the appeal process of Board decisions imposing administrative fines; however, it is accepted that criminal courts of peace are the authorized courts pursuant to Law No. 5326 on Misdemeanours dated 30/3/2005 since the title of Article 18 of the Data Protection Law is “Misdemeanours,” and administrative fines are issued as per Article 18 of the Data Protection Law. Having this in mind, decisions imposing behavioural sanctions can be appealed before administrative courts. This is a controversial issue being subject to discussions in practice and among academicians.
Criminal courts of peace are first instance courts in Turkey, and their decisions are subject to review of other criminal courts of peace which are, again, first instance courts. On the other hand, once the appeal process before the criminal courts of peace is completed, it is also possible to apply to the Turkish Constitution Court.
Criminal proceedings before the criminal court of peace requires close follow up as the cases before the criminal court of peace are subject to simple legal proceedings, and the courts may resolve a decision quickly without a hearing. Therefore, in addition to having deep experience in data protection law, litigation experience with a criminal law background is of essence. Thus, while representing our clients before the criminal court of peace for appeal of Board decisions imposing administrative fines, we created a team of lawyers who have legal expertise in privacy law matters, as well as litigation, and include criminal lawyers on our team in these cases.
Administrative courts are more capable and experienced to review administrative decisions when compared to criminal courts, and we are of the view that the Board decisions, in general, must be considered as an administrative decision, and must be subject to uniform judicial review so that each stakeholder may benefit from indepth analysis that can be made during judicial review and arguments made therein.