The Legal 500

Bahrain

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Editorial

Legal market overview

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Although Bahrain’s economic trend has been informed by the fall in oil prices, which is having some impact on regional projects, a number of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states have sufficient reserves to enable spending on infrastructure and capital projects to continue. Government-funded PPP infrastructure and energy projects continue to drive growth and cater to demand for new district cooling, wastewater, waste-to-energy, renewable energy, oil and gas, and transport infrastructure.

The Bahrain legal market is dominated by a few large and medium-sized international law firms and a number of local contenders, mostly presenting full-service practices. The legal system in Bahrain is a mixture of English common law, Islamic law and codified systems. Dispute resolution remains dominated by top local practitioners, as court hearings are heard in Arabic and only Bahraini nationals can be licensed as advocates to appear before the courts. Transactional work is handled by international firms and local firms alike. Banking and finance mandates and projects work are key sources of new instructions for law firms and Islamic finance is a growing portion of work as regional Islamic banks fund more large-scale financings on a wholly shari’ah-compliant basis; the trend is expected to continue with Islamic banks also looking to expand into non-traditional sectors and new jurisdictions in Europe and further afield. The sukuk market continues to attract new issuers and participants; real estate finance and asset finance are also popular areas for structuring shari’ah-compliant financings.

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