Legal Position of Third Party in Transfer of Indirect Possession by an Agreement between Transferor and Transferee Compared to Lessee in Case of Transfer of Leased PropertyYasin Alperen Karaşahin
In Turkish and Swiss law, if a bailee (third party) is in possession based on a legal relationship with the bailor, the bailor (transferor) can transfer the indirect (constructive) possession by an agreement with the transferee without the consent of the third-party bailee. The Turkish Civil Code (CC) – like the Swiss Civil Code – contains some provisions intended to prevent any negative effect from such an agreement on the interests of the third party. First, the transfer of indirect possession by agreement between transferor and transferee has no legal effect on the third party until that party is notified by the transferor (Article 979/II of Turkish Civil Code [CC]). This period of ineffectiveness ends upon notice to the third party. However, the third party can refuse delivery to the transferee based on the same defenses that could be invoked against the transferor (Article 979/III CC). Contrary to the prevailing view in Turkish and Swiss literatures, this study argues that the above-referenced provision allows the third party to invoke defenses based on personal rights besides those based on property rights. However, this provision is only applicable to the transfer of indirect possession of chattel. In contrast to a recent opinion in Swiss literature, notice of the transfer does not cause the transferee to become a new party to the legal relationship between the original third-party bailee and transferor. Turkish and Swiss law includes only a provision about lease contracts to that effect. This provision is applicable with regard to the lease of personal and real property. However, in contracts for the lease of chattels, Article 979/III CC, as interpreted in this study, would have been sufficient to protect the lessee’s interests without a disproportionate interference in the freedom of contract.
Zilyetliğin Havalesinde Üçüncü Kişinin Hukukî Durumu ve Kiralananın Devrinde Kiracının Hukukî Durumu ile KarşılaştırılmasıYasin Alperen Karaşahin
Türk ve İsviçre hukuklarında, zilyetliğin havalesi, özel bir hukukî ilişkiye dayanarak eşyaya zilyet olan üçüncü kişinin rızası aranmaksızın, devreden ile devralan arasında yapılan bir sözleşme ile devralana dolaylı zilyetlik kazandırılması imkânını yaratmaktadır. Üçüncü kişinin rızası olmaksızın yapılan bu işlemin onun menfaatlerini ihlâl etmemesi için kanunda bazı düzenlemeler yer almaktadır. Türk Medenî Kanunu’nun 979. maddesinin 2. fıkrasına göre, zilyetliğin havalesi, üçüncü kişiye devreden tarafından bildirilmesinden önce üçüncü kişi açısından hüküm ve sonuç doğurmamaktadır. Bu hüküm ile öngörülen nisbî etkisizlik, üçüncü kişiye yapılan bildirim ile sona ermektedir; dolayısıyla üçüncü kişiye geçici bir koruma sağlamaktadır. Türk Medenî Kanunu’nun 979. maddesinin 3. fıkrasına göre, üçüncü kişi devredene karşı ileri sürebildiği savunmalara dayanarak eşyayı devralana teslimden kaçınabilir. Türk ve İsviçre doktrinlerinde hâkim olan görüşün aksine, bu hüküm aynî hakka dayanan savunmaların yanında şahsî (nisbî) hakka dayanan savunmaların da devralana ileri sürülmesine imkân vermektedir. Söz konusu düzenleme, hükmün sözünde açıklık olmasa da, sadece taşınırlar üzerinde devralana aynî hak kazandırılması için zilyetliğin devri gereken hâllerde uygulanmalıdır. İsviçre doktrininde savunulan yeni görüşün aksine, zilyetliğin havalesinin bildirimi üzerine, üçüncü kişi ile devreden arasındaki ilişkide devredenin yerini devralanın alması söz konusu değildir. Türk ve İsviçre hukuklarında, kira sözleşmesinin kurulmasından sonra kiralananın devri durumunda, devreden yerine devralanın kiraya veren olması yönünde açık bir düzenleme yer almaktadır. Bu düzenleme kiralananın taşınır veya taşınmaz olması açısından bir fark getirmemektedir. Bu makalede savunulan görüşe göre, kira sözleşmesine dair özel hüküm olmasaydı bile, kiralanan taşınırın mülkiyetinin zilyetliğin havalesi ile devri durumunda üçüncü kişi (kiracı) kiralananı kira süresinin sonuna kadar teslimden kaçınabilirdi. Bu nedenle, taşınır kiraları açısından kiralananın devrine dair özel düzenleme, kiracının irade serbestîsine ölçüsüz bir müdahale teşkil etmektedir.
Turkish and Swiss Civil Codes (CC) allow the transfer of indirect possession (mittelbarer Besitz) (la possession médiate) (constructive possession) by an agreement between the transferor and the transferee (Besitzanweisung) (la délegation de possession) (Art 979/I Turkish CC, Art 924/II Swiss CC). The consent of the socalled “third party,” who has direct possession (unmittelbarer Besitz) (la possession immédiate) (actual possession), is not required for the transfer of indirect possession. In other words, in contrast with English law, it is not necessary that the third party in actual possession attorns to the transferee with the consent of the transferor.
Because the transferee can acquire indirect possession of and—as a result—a proprietary right on chattels (chose in possession) without the consent or knowledge of the third party, Turkish and Swiss Civil Codes contain rules for protecting the interests of the third party.
Turkish and Swiss Civil Codes stipulate that the transfer of indirect possession by an agreement between the transferor and the transferee has legal effect on the third party only after the transferor’s notice to the third party (Art 979/II Turkish CC, Art 924/II Swiss CC). Prior to this notice, the acquisition of indirect possession by the transferee and its legal results, such as the acquisition of property rights in chattel, cannot be asserted against the third party. Thus, the third party is still the so-called “mediator of possession” (Besitzmittler) for the transferor and can return the property directly to the transferor. In other words, the third party would still hold the chattel as bailee of the transferor. Upon receipt of notice of the transfer, the third party becomes the “mediator of possession” for the transferee as if the third party attorned to the transferee and holds the chattel as bailee of the transferee.
Furthermore, Turkish and Swiss Civil Codes each provide that the third party can refuse delivery of the property to the transferee based on the same defenses that could have previously been invoked against the transferor (Art 979/III Turkish CC, Art 924/ III Swiss CC). The interpretation of this provision is, however, very controversial.
In Turkish and Swiss literatures, the provision is interpreted narrowly. It is generally accepted that the third party cannot refuse delivery based on this provision if the third party has only a personal right (ius in personam) against the transferor, whereas the transferee has acquired a property right (ius in rem) through the transfer of indirect possession. This interpretation renders the provision virtually meaningless and leaves the third party with only a personal right against the transferor essentially defenseless against the transferee. If this interpretation is accepted, the transferor and the transferee can easily undermine the legal position of the third party by agreement between themselves.
This article presents a different interpretation of the mentioned provision. In the author’s opinion, this provision is only applicable when the transfer of indirect possession relates to chattel. In such cases, the third party can invoke personal as well as property rights against the transferee to refuse delivery. As the personal right of the third party would be based on contract rights against the transferor, this interpretation results in a statutory exception to privity of contract. Such an exception is clearly necessary to establish equity between the interests of the parties.
Indeed, if the Turkish and Swiss Civil Codes did not allow the transfer of indirect possession without the consent of the third party, the transferor and transferee would have to wait until the third party returned the chattel so that the transferor could deliver it to the transferee. In this scenario, the third party could invoke the personal right against the transferor to refuse delivery and thereby postpone the acquisition of possession of and a proprietary right in the chattel by the transferee. As the Codes allow the transfer of indirect possession by agreement between transferor and transferee, they prevent such a postponement, thereby improving the legal position of the transferor and the transferee. However, this improvement should not be at the expense of the third party. The legal position of the third party can only be protected if the third party can invoke the personal right to refuse delivery against the transferee in addition to the transferor.
In Swiss literature, some authors argue that the notice of transfer to the third party has the effect that the transferee becomes, by operation of law, a new party to the contract between the transferor and third party, replacing the transferor. Based on this operation, the third party should be able to invoke personal contract rights against the transferee because the transferee has become a party to this contract. In this article, this interpretation is rejected because it forces the third party into a contractual relationship with the transferee and relieves the transferor from the transferor’s contractual obligations without the consent of the third party.
In Turkish and Swiss law, the Code of Obligations (CO) sets out a special provision regarding the transfer of leased property. Pursuant to this provision, if the ownership of leased property is transferred by the lessor after the conclusion of the lease contract, the transferee replaces the transferor as the lessor (Art 310 Turkish CO, Art 261 Swiss CO). In other words, the lease contract continues to exist between the lessee and the transferee. Therefore, the lessee can invoke the personal contract rights arising out of the lease contract against the transferee. This provision constitutes a disproportionate interference in the freedom of contract of the lessee when the leased property is a chattel. This disproportion is the result of the lessee being obligated to continue the contractual relationship with the transferee, even though this continuation is not necessary to protect the lessee. Once the leased chattel is delivered to the lessee, its ownership can only be assigned by the transfer of indirect possession by an agreement between transferor and transferee. As explained above, the better interpretation of the relevant provision of the Turkish and Swiss Civil Codes provides for sufficient protection of the third party (i.e., the lessee) in such cases.