Legal Market Overview
Under new prime minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi, Iraq’s trajectory was been dominated by the fight against Covid-19, continued allegations of government corruption and ongoing calls for the prosecution of those accused of the unlawful killing of protesters. In addition, investigations were launched in response to the claim that more than 100 people connected to the protests were forcibly disappeared and allegedly subjected to police brutality and torture.
Despite government attempts to ease tensions, political violence remained an issue in relation to the use of deadly force by security forces in Tahrir Square, the abduction of activists and foreign nationals, Turkish drone strikes against the PKK, rocket attacks against Baghdad’s Green Zone and the continued fallout of the Qasem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis assassinations.
Despite the fragile environment, law firms continue to attract significant work in relation to the government’s plan to ‘re-build Iraq’. Most notably, this includes legal assistance regarding the required permits and investment licences for work in construction (including residential or mixed-use developments), utilities, infrastructure, transport and leisure facilities. In connection, practices often advise on the steps necessary to secure the registration of foreign entities, work which includes legalisation before the Registrar of Companies, the Tax Authority and the Iraqi Bar Association.
Oil and gas contracts continue to dominate with many substantive deals covering project financing, the acquisition of drilling rigs and (where necessary) the relinquishment of concession rights. Lawyers have also been kept busy in relation to the distinction between Iraqi laws and regulations as they apply in both Federal Iraq and the Kurdistan region (particularly in relation to the continuing tensions over power resources between the federal government and the KRG). Additional areas of increased activity include the import and distribution of pharmaceutical products, the international acquisition of domestic telecoms companies and employment litigation/subcontractor claims for security firms operating within the country.