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New Qatar Arbitration Law 2017

30 March 2017

On 16 February 2017, Qatar adopted a new arbitration law (Law No. 2 of 2017) promulgating the Law of Arbitration in Civil and Commercial Matters (the "Qatar Arbitration Law"). This supersedes the arbitration chapter contained in Qatar's Code of Civil and Commercial Procedure and is largely based on the UNCITRAL Model Law, which is internationally recognised and widely used by many States as the basis of their own arbitration law.


We look at the Qatar Arbitration Law's key characteristics, some regional peculiarities and the impact of the Qatar Arbitration Law on the dispute resolution landscape in Qatar and the wider GCC region. 

Key characteristics at a glance

Scope of application
 
  • The Qatar Arbitration Law will be applicable with immediate effect to arbitrations underway as at the date of it coming into force (i.e. 30 days from publication in the Official Gazette on 13 March 2017).
  • It applies to both domestic and international arbitrations seated in Qatar.
     
Arbitration Agreement
 
Article 7 of the Qatar Arbitration Law sets out the requirements for a valid arbitration agreement, namely:

 

  • legal capacity of a person to enter into the agreement;
  • agreement must be in writing; and
  • it must not necessarily be signed by the parties, so long as there is a record of transmission between the parties.
     
Tribunal  
  • The default position is that the Arbitral Tribunal will be composed of three arbitrators, unless the parties agree otherwise. 
  • There are no requirements as to the nationality of the arbitrators. 
  • The Tribunal has jurisdiction to rule as to the extent of its own competence on issues presented before it. 
  • Arbitrators must be selected from a list of accredited arbitrators entered in the Arbitrators Register with the Ministry of Justice.
  • An arbitrator  can be held liable if he or she acts in bad faith, collusion or gross negligence.
     
Interim Measures  
  • The Tribunal has the power to grant a number of non-exhaustive interim measures and issue preliminary orders.
  • The Qatari Courts are required to enforce interim measures granted by a Tribunal, unless this violates Qatari law or contravenes public policy.
  • Challenging an Arbitral Award • The Tribunal is not required to provide reasons for its award, unless this is specified by the parties.
  • The timeframe for correcting or amending the Award is significantly shorter than that provided for under the Model Law (7 days from the date of receipt of the Award as opposed to 30 days).
  • The Award can only be appealed for nullification before the competent Qatari Court and the Qatar Arbitration Law sets out limited grounds for nullification largely based on the Model Law.
  • Again, the timeframe for appealing the Award is shorter under the Qatar Arbitration Law (1 month as compared to 3 months under the Model Law).
     
     
Challenging an Arbitral Award  
  • The Tribunal is not required to provide reasons for its award, unless this is specified by the parties.
  • The timeframe for correcting or amending the Award is significantly shorter than that provided for under the Model Law (7 days from the date of receipt of the Award as opposed to 30 days).
  • The Award can only be appealed for nullification before the competent Qatari Court and the Qatar Arbitration Law sets out limited grounds for nullification largely based on the Model Law.
  • Again, the timeframe for appealing the Award is shorter under the Qatar Arbitration Law (1 month as compared to 3 months under the Model Law).


Regional Considerations


The Competent Court and the Other Authority
 
 
  • Parties can elect either the Qatar Court of Appeal or the QFC Court of First Instance as the "Competent Court", the authority with the relevant supervisory powers.
  • Parties can also appoint an "Other Authority", namely a permanent arbitration centre whose role is to discharge certain support and supervisory duties over the arbitration.
 
     
Witnesses
   
  • Witnesses are no longer required to testify an oath in arbitral proceedings.
     
Powers of Attorney
   
  • Legal representatives may be required to provide proof that they are authorised to act on behalf of a party.
     
List of Arbitrators approved by the Ministry of Justice
   
  • Arbitrators must be selected from a list of candidates accredited by the Qatari Ministry of Justice.

Future of Qatar's dispute resolution landscape


The Qatar Arbitration Law is a positive development for Qatar, which is in line with its efforts to become a more "arbitration friendly" jurisdiction in the region.

This should certainly encourage parties in Qatar – both foreign and domestic– to resolve their disputes out of court; as well as increase the attractiveness of Qatar as a place to conduct your disputes in the region.

Time will tell whether other jurisdictions in the region will follow suit by issuing their own standalone arbitration law with a view to providing parties, arbitrators and courts more guidance, particularly with regards to enforcement.

Read more: New Qatar Arbitration Law

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