While the debtor's goods are being seized, the goods that actually belong to another third party may also be confiscated at the same time. For instance, while the seizure is being made, the computer in the debtor's house may belong to the friend of the debtor, not the debtor, and he may claim that he gave it to the debtor for his usage. Claiming that a third party has ownership or another real right on seized property is called a claim for interpleader, and the goods for which the interpleader is claimed are called adversarial goods. Seizure of adversarial goods is possible; however, in line with the array of seizures, these goods are confiscated last, after the non-contentious goods.
The method that is used to rid the claimed goods of the seizure is called interpleader action. Depending on whether the property that has interpleader relief is in the hands of the debtor or a third party, the provisions of the action of the interpleader change.
1- Interpleader Action in Case the Seized Property is in the Hands of the Debtor
If a property is seized in a place belonging to the debtor, it is deemed to be seized in the hands of the debtor, and in this case, the provisions of Enforcement and Bankruptcy Law Articles 96 and 97 are applied. Even if the debtor and the third party claiming interpleader hold the seized property together, the property is deemed to have been confiscated in the hands of the debtor. In this case, the burden of filing an interpleader action encumbers the debtor and the third party holding the seized property. (EBL art. 97) For instance, if a woman's property is confiscated due to her husband's debt in the marriage union, the seized property is considered to be in the hands of the debtor and a third party.
The debtor may also claim that seized property belongs to someone else while it is in his possession; in other words, the debtor may also claim the third party's claim of interpleader. Whether the claimant is the debtor or a third party, this claim of interpleader can be brought forward within seven days from the date of learning about the seizure of the property (Enforcement and Bankruptcy Law article 96).
The claim for interpleader is reported to the enforcement office that made the seizure. Thereupon, the executive director notifies the creditor and debtor of the claim of the third party and gives the creditor and debtor a period of three days to notify whether they have objections to the claim with this notification. If the creditor and debtor do not object to the claim of the third party within this three-day period, they are deemed to have accepted the claim for interpleader.
If the creditor or debtor objects to the claim within these three days, the executive director immediately delivers the file related to the claim to the enforcement court. Subsequently, if the enforcement court considers that the third party is right in the claim of the interpleader, it decides to postpone the proceeding, that is, to stop the sale of that property. However, if he thinks that the third party is wrong in his claim, he decides to continue the proceedings at this time. This decision has the character of a definitive judgment.
The third party may file an action of interpleader within seven days from the pronouncement of the postponement of the execution proceeding decision or notice of continuation of the execution proceeding given by the enforcement court. It should also be noted that the third party can directly file an action for the interpleader within seven days from the date of learning about the seizure.
The court in charge of the interpleader action substituted by the third party is the enforcement court, and the competent court is the enforcement court in the residence of the creditor (Code of Civil Procedure art. 6). In this case, the simple trial procedure will be applied; Since the property subject to the interpleader action is seized in the hands of the debtor, it burdens the third party to prove that the property belongs to him. In the aforementioned case, the plaintiff and the defendant can prove their claims with all the evidence in the Code of Civil Procedure.
The fact that the interpleader action has been substituted does not automatically stop the sale of the subject matter of the lawsuit. If the seized goods are sold before the interpleader action is concluded, the enforcement court makes a separate decision on whether to pay the sale price until the end of the trial or to pay the creditor immediately in return for security. In this case, the lawsuit becomes a cost. In other words, the subject of the lawsuit from now on is the sale price of the goods claimed by the interpleader. Even if this sale price is paid to the creditor, the lawsuit for the interpleader does not end; the lawsuit for the interpleader continues. If the enforcement court decides to accept the interpleader action, the plaintiff decides that the sales price paid to the creditor shall be taken from the respondent creditor and given to the third party.
Consequences of Interpleader Action Filed by a Third Party
If the enforcement court finds that the claimant's claim of interpleader by a third party is unjustified, it decides to reject the claim on the merits. With the finalization of this rejection decision, the lien on the property becomes final. Thereupon, the creditor may request the sale of the seized property. The decision of the enforcement court does not have to be final in order to demand the sale of the goods.
If the enforcement court finds that the claimant third party's claim is reasonable, it decides to accept the claim on the substance. As it is understood that the property belongs to the third party, the attachment on the property is released.
If the lien on the property subject to the lawsuit is released while the interpleader action is pending, the interpleader action will be out of the question. In this case, the enforcement court decides that there is no need for a decision on the case.
2- Action of Interpleader in Case the Seized Property is in the Hands of a Third Party
When the movable properties held by the third party are seized, these properties are left to the third party as a trustee if the third party accepts them. If the third party was present at the time of seizure of the property, he may claim interpleader within seven days from the seizure. However, if the property in the possession of the third party is seized in the absence of the third party, the third party may claim the interpleader within seven days from the date of learning that the property has been seized. In both cases, if the third party does not claim the interpleader within seven days, he loses his right to assert the claim of interpleader in the same proceeding.
If a property is seized while in the possession of a third party, and the third party claims ownership or other real rights on that property, the executive director records this claim in the seizure report and gives the creditor seven days to file a claim against the third party. In other words, in this case, the time to file an action is given by the executive director, and the burden of filing a claim for interpleader is imposed on the creditor. (Enforcement and Bankruptcy Law, art. However, it should not be forgotten that, for the implementation of Enforcement and Bankruptcy Law Article 99, the seized property must be in the hands of a third party.
If the creditor does not file a claim for interpleader against the third party within seven days from the notice or pronouncement of the time decision given by the executive director, it shall be deemed to have accepted the third party's claim for interpleader.
For the interpleader action substituted by the creditor, the competent court is the enforcement court, but this time the competent court is the enforcement court in the third party's residence. The simple trial procedure is also applied in the interpleader action substituted according to Enforcement and Bankruptcy Law Article 99. In this case, there is no need for the enforcement court to decide on a postponement of the execution proceeding on the subject property. Because the seized property is in the hands of a third party, the proceedings against it are automatically suspended until the conclusion of the action for interpleader. In other words, the seized property cannot be sold until the lawsuit filed by the creditor is concluded.
In accordance with Enforcement and Bankruptcy Law Article 99, as the property is seized in the hands of the third party, the presumption of ownership is in favor of the third party. For this reason, the creditor is obliged to prove that the property confiscated in the hands of a third party belongs to the debtor.
Consequences of Interpleader Action Filed by the Creditor
If the enforcement court finds that the respondent is right in the claim of interpleader, it decides to reject the claim on the merits and to release the attachment on the property.
If the enforcement court finds that the respondent's claim by interpleader of the third party is unjustified, it decides to reject the third party's claim of interpleader and accept the case. With this decision, the lien on the property becomes final. The enforcement office may take the property from the third party and take it under custody, and the creditor may request the sale of the property.
1. Baki Kuru, Handbook of Enforcement and Bankruptcy Law, Second Edition, 2013: Adalet Publishing House (Pages 466-499)
2. Kuru, Arslan and Yılmaz, Enforcement and Bankruptcy Law Textbook, 27th Edition: Yetkin Publications (Pages 200-210)
3. Gorgun, Toraman and Kodakoglu, Enforcement and Bankruptcy Law Lecture Notes, Second Edition: Legem Publishing (Pages: 127-130)