Sustainability and Corporate Law

According to the regulations within the framework of the Turkish Commercial Code, sustainability refers to the economic continuity of companies. According to the Turkish Commercial Code, “Sustainable Company” means that the business can maintain its existence continuously. However, although there is no general agreement on it, when the concept of sustainability is interpreted broadly, it also includes the concepts of physical, social and economic environment. The regulations and measures taken in order to prevent some environmental problems caused by companies can also be evaluated within the scope of the concept of sustainability.

Regulations made in the fields of public law and private law will subject companies to certain responsibilities in the field of environmental sustainability and will prevent their activities that may cause environmental damage and harm public health. The regulations on sustainability in the field of public law are generally deterrent. Although private law regulations regarding sustainability cannot be fully interpreted within the scope of environmental sustainability, they are regulated by the Turkish Commercial Code, Capital Market Law and related sub-legislations.

The Turkish Commercial Code does not contain intensive special provisions on sustainability. Within the scope of company law, there is a great deal of flexibility and freedom in terms of sustainability. However, the freedom we mentioned can also bring some positive results. As a matter of fact, it is possible to develop company policies with modern management principles thanks to this freedom. Although they are not directly responsible with a special regulation, there is no obstacle for companies to mention their activities related to environmental issues in their annual activity reports, considering that the annual report arrangement is one of the inalienable and indispensable powers of the members of the Board of Management.

Contrary to the Turkish Commercial Code, the Capital Markets Law and related sub-legislations include some relatively more detailed provisions on sustainable companies. Corporate Governance Principles include some mandatory and voluntary regulations. One of these regulations includes the obligation of companies to respect the regulations regarding the environment and public health. There is also a regulation stating that information on social responsibility activities about company activities that cause environmental consequences will be included. Although the sub-legislation has brought detailed regulations according to the Turkish Commercial Code, it is difficult to say that there are intensive regulations in our legislation on sustainability in general.

Along with current problems such as climate change and global warming, companies mainly work on sustainability policies. When the new generation regulations are examined, it is seen that there are many current regulations in different legal systems and the studies continue intensively. The relevant regulations include a strategy to focus on some companies for which sustainability policies are determined voluntarily in order to be seen as an incentive for the investor. Ultimately, the inclusion of sustainability in the scope of company law more intensely is possible with the existence of some compulsory and encouraging regulations in our legal system.

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