For all aspects of health in Turkey, there are binding rules that govern the rights and responsibilities of governments, health workers, companies, civil society and a country’s population. Together these rules make up the legal framework, or legal architecture for health.
For all aspects of health law in Turkey, there are binding rules that govern the rights and responsibilities of governments, health workers, companies, civil society and a country’s population. Together these rules make up the legal framework, or legal architecture for health. They take many forms including: statutory laws, regulatory and administrative laws, contracts, case law, and customary laws. Who is involved in making these rules, and the form they take, differs from country to country.
Health laws are used to formalize commitment to goals, such as the goal of universal health coverage, creating a drive for action. To enable cooperation and achieve health goals, people use law to create different organizations (such as public or private hospitals) and relationships (such as contracts for providing health services). In turn, organizations (whether health ministries, the private sector or civil society) have mandates, policies and strategies based on legal rules that guide their work.
There are also many rules that structure what health organizations and individuals should do, and what they may not do. This interaction between different health laws results in health system functions being carried out and health products and services being delivered.
What are the Likely Legal Challenges of Coronavirus (COVID 19) in Turkey?
As the COVID-19 coronavirus continues to spread across the globe, countless legal challenges are likely to arise in Turkey, like elsewhere.
Possible coronavirus-related issues might be identified as follows;
Business losses and disruptions tied to the outbreak may cause extensive contractual disputes in varied industry sectors. Many of these disputes will likely center on whether the outbreak constitutes a force majeure or other occurrence that may excuse a party from contractual obligations. One might consider whether the Coronavirus outbreak constitutes a force majeure under existing contracts and whether to declare force majeure under existing contracts.
Prior to declaring a force majeure event, one should review requirements for doing so and beware of unintended consequences (e.g., obligation to mitigate consequences, repudiation of a contract if incorrectly declaring a force majeure event, ability of other party to terminate exclusivity provisions, etc.). If the Coronavirus outbreak does not constitute a force majeure event under existing contracts, one may consider whether the defenses of “frustration” and “impossibility” are applicable (the applicability is limited and will vary depending on the governing law of the applicable agreement). One may consider whether the Coronavirus outbreak is a “material adverse change” or “material adverse effect” under existing agreements.
One should consider whether the Coronavirus affects your or your counterparties’ ability to perform under a contract and meet deadlines. One should review contracts to determine upcoming deadlines and be proactive in providing written notice of actual and/or potential delays or other material impacts of the Coronavirus. One should consider how the Coronavirus may impact “best effort” clauses and the like. One should consider how travel restrictions might impact inspection rights and rights to be present at governance meetings.
As the COVID-19 outbreak has the potential to lead to difficulties in numerous areas, it will likely give rise to varied disputes as debts go unpaid or contracts are terminated. Parties to potential disputes should assess their litigation risks and requirements in all areas in which they operate. For ongoing cases, one should obtain a list of upcoming deadlines over the next six months and be proactive in preserving witness testimony.
One may be proactive in seeking extensions in respect to deadlines and continuances of hearings and trials to the extent Coronavirus impacts discovery or witness availability. One should take into account how travel complications might impact witness/counsel travel.
Employers may face expansive legal challenges stemming from the outbreak, affecting numerous aspects of their operations. These challenges may impact policies involving work from home, sick-leave and dependent care arrangements, or employer workplace safety obligations, or procedures governing employee relocation and jobs that require travel.
The outbreak could create the need to revisit employee confidentiality and data-privacy needs as well, and employers should prepare for potential challenges involving labor relations and anti-discrimination laws. Company policies relating to remote working, sick leave and family leave should be avaluated and determined whether any revisions are necessary. One should pay particular attention to flexibility of policies with respect to caring for sick family members, waiving requirements for doctors’ notes, and permitting employees to take leave when schools and day care providers are closed.
One should prepare a specific crisis management policy for dealing with pandemics. One should consider protocols for employees who become subject to quarantine (placement on leave, use of sick days, vacation days, etc.) and reintegrating employees successfully removed from quarantine protocols.
Virus-related business losses may raise numerous intricacies related to insurance coverage, and organizations should prepare for complex disputes as courts closely examine policy language. For example, supply chain-related losses can trigger claims for business interruption coverage, but those policies often require physical damage to cause the loss.
Parties to insurance contracts should closely revisit their language and formulate action plans in light of the outbreak. One should review insurance policies and determine whether the policies expressly cover damages arising from a pandemic or communicable disease (e.g., business interruption, business income, “key man,” employee coverage, liability, any specific policies covering pandemics or disease-related losses, director/officer liability, etc.).
One should consider whether insurance policies will cover actions taken by the employer, supervisors, managers, etc., with respect to the Coronavirus. One should determine whether any notices must be given to insurers under existing insurance policies.
Assessments of the impact
While the financial, commercial and social impact of the Coronavirus outbreak is undetermined, businesses would be well served to perform assessments of the impact of this global outbreak and prepare for the outbreak to continue increasing before it stabilizes.
Businesses should reach out to their counsel and other service providers to understand their rights and obligations under material agreements as well as to ensure that their service providers have plans in place to minimize disruptions to their ability to provide services to the business.