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Sinop


Merchant courts of Justice    EN

Author: DOĞANTEKİN ERSIN

*Ph.D. (Research Assistant),  Kafkas University, Kars, Turkey

As a port on the coast of the Black Sea, Sinop was an important center of the Greek colonization in the antiquity. Its importance continued with international connections thanks to the Genoese and the Venetians. When the Ottomans made the Black Sea an inland sea, its commercial structure changed significantly to serve mainly local needs. But after the Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca in 1774, Sinop became an important point of international trade again.

As a result of its financial policy, the Ottoman Empire supported imports and limited exports as much as possible. [1] In this way, some commercial concessions for international trade were given to a limited number of nations such as Genoa, Venice, France, England and Russia. Kadis, ambassadors, bailos and commissions in the first periods and subsequently consulates and commercial courts became responsible for the protection of those who did business with the Ottoman Empire.

Implementing reforms and changes almost in all fields in the 19th century, the Ottoman Empire also initiated a reformation in the judiciary field, and in this context, responsibilities of kadis, who were the men of justice in the classical era, were reduced and transferred to courts. The commissions that were formed along with the capitulations were the pioneers of commercial courts but the fact that the number of foreign merchants gradually increased after 1838 automatically resulted in the emergence of a wider organization. [2] The merchants who came from Europe to the Ottoman land tried to implement their own European rules and this caused conflicts. All kinds of merchant groups tried to settle their problems in different places. Money changers, for example, tried to have their cases settled in their guilds. The Marketplace Administration (Ihtisab Nezareti) also began to hear some types of cases. As lincesed merchants of Europe and other places and various other merchants and tradesmen continued to take their cases to the mukhtars and deputies of their own choice, “Meclis-i Ziraat ve Sanayi” (the Council of Agriculture and Industry) was established in Istanbul in 1838 in order to solve such cases in an organized way under a specific rule, and subsequently its name was changed to “Meclis-i Umûr-ı Nafia” (the Council of Public Works). This council was transformed to the Ministry of Commerce in 1839 and the Sultan’s licensed merchants and bill traders were taken under the jurisdictional of this Ministry. [3] A commercial court, which was to hear cases once a week, was established in order to settle disputes and commercial transactions. Rules of meeting, however, were not clear. It had been stipulated in the establishment of the commercial court in 1839 that cases would begin when the relevant consuls, mukhtars (the official chief of a village or district), deputies and reputable persons of merchants were available. It was aimed that provincial merchants would take their cases to their local regional courts before coming to the center, and effort was taken to establish commercial courts in the cities having important commercial activities. [4]

By a mandate dated 16 June 1866, a commercial court was established in Sinop, which was a district subordinate to the city of Kastamonu; Mustafa Galip Efendi was assigned as the chief judge, Osman Ağa and Yerebakanzade İstefanaki Efendi as permanent members, and Ali Efendi as the clerk. A change was made in the court board on 29 September 1868 through a local election, by which Mustafa Galip Efendi remained as the chief judge with a salary of 600 kurush, Mirasyedizade Mehmed Ağa replaced resigning Osman Ağa with a salary of 300 kurush, Yerebakanzade İstefanaki Efendi kept his position with a salary of 300 kurush, and Hacı Abdurrahman Efendi replaced resigning Ali Efendi with a salary of 400 kurush. Those who were elected as temporary members by merchants were: Nuri Efendi, Dizdarzade İbrahim Ağa, Çakırzade Hıristaki and Andon. [5]

Mustafa Galib Efendi, the chief judge of the commercial court, retired from office by a petition that he submitted to the Lieutenant Governorship of Sinop on 3 July 1874 [6] and he was then replaced with Haşimzade Mehmed Efendi by the recommendation of the Council of Sinop District on 6 September 1874. [7]

As commercial courts generally served foreign merchants, it was compulsory to keep foreign members available. Complaints by foreign merchants are observed when no foreign court members were available. In 1905, the French embassy submitted a complaint to the Ministry of Justice regarding commercial court of Sinop for non-availability of a foreign member.

Officials of the Sinop Commercial Court

Years

Title

Name

1869 [9]

Chief

Mustafa Efendi

Permanent Member

Mirasyedizade Mehemmed Ağa

Yerebakanzade İstafanaki

Temporary Member

Dizdarzade İbrahim Ağa

Çakırzade Hırıstaki Efendi

Andon Ağa

Clerk

Abdurrahman Efendi

1870 [10]

Chief

Mustafa Efendi

Permanent Member

Mehemmed Ağa

İstafanaki Ağa

Temporary Member

Nuri Efendi

İbrahim Ağa

Hıristaki Efendi

Andon Ağa

Clerk

Abdurrahman Efendi

1871 [11]

Chief

Mustafa Efendi

Permanent Member

Mehemmed Ağa

İstafanaki Ağa

Temporary Member

Nuri Efendi

İbrahim Ağa

Hıristaki Ağa

Andon Ağa

1872 [12]

Chief

Mustafa Galib Efendi

Permanent Member

Mehemmed Ağa

Andon Ağa

Temporary Member

Nuri Efendi

İbrahim Ağa

Nikola(Nikoli) Ağa

Dimitraki Ağa

Clerk

İbrahim Nezheti Efendi

1873 [13]

Chief

Mustafa Galib Efendi

Permanent Member

Mehemmed Ağa

Nikolaki Efendi

Temporary Member

Nuri Efendi

İbrahim Ağa

Hıristaki Efendi

… Ağa

Clerk

-

1874 [14]

Chief

Mustafa Galib Efendi

Permanent Member

Mehemmed Ağa

Nikolaki Efendi

Temporary Member

… Ağa

Seyyid Mehemmed Efendi

Süleyman Efendi

Nikolaki

Clerk

Ali İzzet Efendi

1875 [15]

Chief

Mehemmed Haşim Efendi

Permanent Member

… Ağa

Temporary Member

İbrahim Ağa

Seyid Mehemmed Efendi

Nikoli Efendi

Apostol Efendi

Clerk

Halil Hami Efendi

1876 [16]

Chief

Mustafa Galib Efendi

Permanent Member

Osman Ağa

Hıristaki Efendi

Temporary Member

İbrahim Ağa

Seyid Mehmed Ağa

Apostolaki Ağa

Nikolaki Ağa

Clerk

Hüseyin Asım Efendi

1877 [17]

Chief

Mustafa Galib Efendi

Permanent Member

Osman Ağa

Hıristaki Efendi

Temporary Member

İbrahim Ağa

Seyid Mehmed Efendi

Apostolaki Efendi

Nikolaki Efendi

Clerk

Hakkı Efendi

1878 [18]

Chief

Mustafa Galib Efendi

Permanent Member

Osman Ağa

İbrahim Ağa

Temporary Member

Seyid Mehmed Efendi

Yani Ağa

Apostolaki Efendi

Nikolaki Efendi

Clerk

Ahmed Efendi

1879 [19]

Chief

İbrahim Nezheti Efendi

Permanent Member

Osman Ağa

İbrahim Ağa

Temporary Member

Seyid Mehemmed Efendi

Yani Ağa

Epostolaki Efendi

Nikolaki Efendi

Clerk

Ömer Efendi

 


[1] Osmanlı Devleti’nin mali politikaları için bkz. Mehmet Genç, Osmanlı İmparatorluğu’nda Devlet ve Ekonomi, Ankara 2000.

[2] M.Macit Kenanoğlu, Ticaret Kanunnamesi ve Mecelle Işığında Osmanlı Ticaret Hukuku, Ankara 2005. s.17.

[3] Kenanoğlu, Ticaret Kanunnamesi ve Mecelle Işığında Osmanlı Ticaret Hukuku, s.24-25.

[4] Kenanoğlu, Ticaret Kanunnamesi ve Mecelle Işığında Osmanlı Ticaret Hukuku, s.24-27.

[5] Office of the Prime Minister Ottoman Archives (BOA).A.MKT.MHM.423.11.1.

[6]BOA.i.DH.689.48125.01.

[7]BOA.i.DH.689.48125.01.

[8]BOA. HR.HMŞ.İŞO.105.13.

[9]Kastamonu Vilayet Salnamesi(KVS.)(1286), s.45.

[10]KVS.(1287), s.82.

[11]KVS.(1288), s.83.

[12]KVS.(1289), s.90.

[13]KVS.(1290), s.91.

[14]KVS.(1291), s.116.

[15]KVS. (1292), s.127.

[16]KVS.(1293), s.111.

[17]KVS.(1294), s.119.

[18]KVS.(1295), s.65.

[19]KVS.(1296), s.69.


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