The Banking Case – What Is the Extent of Turkish Competition Authority’s Powers for Requesting Information from Undertakings?

Zeynep Şengören Özcan* & Att. Aslı Ak**


The “Banking Case” of 2020 sparked important discussions on the scope and limits of the extensive investigative powers the Turkish Competition Authority (TCA) enjoys under the Act No. 4054 on the Protection of Competition. While initially probing potential competition law violations, which were eventually dismissed, the preliminary inquiry garnered attention for the TCA’s broad interpretation of its authority to request information from entities.

In the article titled “On Whose Door to Knock? Information Requests of the Turkish Competition Authority Extending to Foreign Parent Companies” published in Oxford University Press’ Journal of European Competition Law & Practice, we explore the Banking Case, examine TCA’s reasoning and the validity of its arguments within the context of domestic legislation and ask whether European Union (EU) procedural rules can serve as a direct substitute for Turkish laws. This blog post aims to outline key discussion points explored in detail in the article.

Information Request Issue in the Banking Case

During the preliminary inquiry, the TCA fined five undertakings for allegedly failing to provide the requested information from their Türkiye-based entities. The information request concerned the top 10 traders in the US and the UK with the highest Turkish Lira quoted sale and purchase transaction volumes. The undertakings contested these fines before the administrative courts, arguing that the TCA wrongly targeted their Türkiye-based entities instead of their overseas branches, which held the relevant information, while sending the notifications. They claimed the notification method and subsequent fines were unlawful due to this discrepancy. In response, the TCA justified its approach by citing EU rules and precedents, often used for guidance due to Türkiye’s alignment with EU competition law standards.

This broad interpretation raised questions about the concept of a single economic entity, the notification methodology to be followed by the TCA when requesting information in relation to entities abroad, and the extent to which EU law and precedents can be applied in Türkiye’s competition law matters, particularly when national legislation governing the dispute is involved. The differing opinions of administrative courts during the appeals process suggest that this debate is yet to be resolved.

Applicability of the Single Economic Entity Concept in Notification Procedures

An established principle under competition law, which was heavily relied on by the TCA in the Banking Case, is the concept of a single economic entity. This concept suggests that while identifying an undertaking, the test is not to look for separate legal entities but to identify a group of entities that form an economic unity based on their control structure. Thus, under Turkish competition law, both subsidiaries and their parent companies can be considered as a single economic entity, thus as an undertaking. Although there is no dispute when it comes to identifying an undertaking under the concept of a single economic entity, the same clarity is not evident for identifying the recipient of an information request within the undertaking.

On one end, the TCA argued in the Banking Case that despite a Turkish entity not directly participating in the conduct under scrutiny, if the foreign entity within the same group was involved in relevant actions, the Turkish entity could still be targeted as the recipient of information requests as they collectively constituted a single economic entity. Building on this perspective, the TCA also pinpointed several of its case laws where it found legal persons abroad were found liable for the investigated conduct in Turkey. However, none of those cases concerned a dispute regarding notification methods.

The flip side of the discussion calls that in the absence of circumstances permitting simplified notification procedures under international treaties Türkiye is a party to, the Notification Act no. 7201 governs notifications to be made to entities abroad. It follows by stating that given the administrative nature of TCA’s information requests, TCA is obliged to follow the diplomatic notification procedure outlined under the Notification Act.

In the Banking Case, there were differing administrative court decisions on the applicability of the single economic entity concept given the special notification procedure outlined under the Notification Act.

Applicability of EU laws and practices

Another notable aspect of the Banking Case was the TCA’s reliance on EU precedents regarding notification procedures. While EU competition law serves as the primary source and reference legislation for Turkish competition law and practice, it’s important to recognize that direct transplantation of EU case law, particularly the procedural rules into, Turkish enforcement is not straightforward. Although diverging administrative court decisions do not provide clarity on this issue, they at least indicate that such a transplantation cannot be considered a given, particularly in the existence of the Act on the Protection of Competition referring to the Notification Act for matters arising under it.

Additionally, the direct adoption of the EU procedural rules, which are created to ensure harmonization within a multinational organization, poses further challenges. This is firstly because Türkiye, despite its candidacy, is not yet part of this supranational body. Moreover, the overarching aim of maintaining a single economic market in the EU does not have direct reciprocity in the Turkish context.

However, until a decision is rendered by the Council of State, the highest authority overseeing annulment lawsuits for TCA decisions under Turkish administrative procedural law, it remains uncertain whether the TCA should follow the diplomatic notification method in accordance with the Notification Act or can notify a subsidiary in Türkiye for matters concerning another group entity residing abroad.


Discussions on the notification method adopted by the TCA once again illustrate the precedence of procedure over substance in legal matters. Despite the acquittal of the parties from infringement allegations, debates on the proper notification of information requests persist. While the TCA’s reliance on EU practices in the Banking Case grants it broad authority to determine addressees of its requests, directly applying EU notification rules to Turkish competition law practices has limitations due to differences in procedural rules and the unique structure of the EU.

Although the TCA asserts its authority to notify entities abroad through their Türkiye-based subsidiaries or group companies, the stance of administrative courts on this matter remains unclear. A definitive ruling from the Council of State would clarify the proper notification method for entities abroad. Such a decision may also assess the TCA’s ability to adopt all EU practices, despite the existing laws.

* Senior Consultant at BASEAK

** Associate at BASEAK