The Qatari legislator regulated the issue of imprisoning the debtor in debt in the Civil and Commercial Procedures Law, specifically in Chapter Five, and specified articles 514 to 518 for it.
The issue of imprisoning the debtor relates to the possibility of imprisoning the debtor who has refrained from paying the debt, if a final obligatory civil judgment is issued against him (whether the debtor requested to be imprisoned is a normal person, or he is a manager and responsible for a private legal person).
So, imprisoning the debtor in debt is a means to ensure implementation, and it is a form that mediates precautionary and executive means.
The exercise by the prevailing party of imprisonment against his debtor in accordance with the conditions set forth below, does not preclude his right to take the prescribed measures to implement the judgment issued in his favor, as approved by Article 518 of the Civil and Commercial Procedures Law.
Article 514 of the Civil and Commercial Procedures Law, regarding the conditions for exercising this right, requires a preliminary condition for imprisoning the debtor in debt, which is that the judgment be final, that is, that the judgment is not subject to appeal by ordinary means of opposition or appeal, but is subject to appeal by unusual means of appeal such as appeal by cassation or appeal by reconsideration, which is a type of appeal in which one of the litigants of a lawsuit files, for his desire to cancel a judicial ruling that is no longer subject to appeal by the ordinary way, before the same court that issued the ruling in the same case, and that is with the intention of the court to retract the ruling and re-investigate the case again in order to avoid an error that may have occurred in the case.
The final judgment differs from the Conclusive judgment (i.e. the judgment that may not be appealed by any of the legally established methods of appeal), in other words, it has the power of the thing decided.
Article 514 referred to above, in addition to the first condition, included a second condition, which is the refrainment of the losing party from implementing the final judgment issued against him, while article 515 of the same law added a third condition, which is to prove that the losing party is capable of fulfilling what he was sentenced to, for example, it gets proven through a Traffic Department’s letter, the ownership of several cars to the ruled against (a natural person or a company), or for example, if the report of the judicial guard of the company which the judgment was carried out against, contained evidence that the company which the judgment was executed against collected sums of cash, some of which were paid in implementation of judicial rulings.
The Court of Cassation affirmed in Appeal No. 100 of 2009 civil cassation and also in Appeal No. 43 of 2015 civil cassation that: “If one of these two conditions is missed, the judge shall refrain from ordering the imprisonment of the debtor.”
On the occasion of Appeal No. 351 of 2019 civil cassation, the Court of Cassation confirmed three conditions regarding these two articles by saying: “…indicates that the legislator conditioned the judge’s issuance of an order to imprison the debtor or the one who refrained from execution, three conditions: That the judgment subject of the execution has become final and enforceable, and for the capability of the ruled against and his ability to implement this judgment to be proven, the timing for knowing the extent of the debtor’s ability to implement is at the time of filing the imprisonment lawsuit, not at a date prior to this procedure, unless he has deliberately disposed of the funds to evade the implementation of the judicial ruling, and the third: that the ruled against or abstainer from carrying out the sentence fails to implement the judgment despite the competent judge assigning him to do so, and that is all unless one of the cases stipulated in article 516 of the Procedure Code is available.”
As for the fourth condition, it is represented in the absence of one of the cases stipulated in article 516 of the same law, which are the following:
- If he is under eighteen or over seventy years of age.
- If he is a spouse of the creditor, or one of his ascendants or descendants, unless the debt is an alimony for the creditor
- If he submits a bank guarantee, or a capable guarantor accepted by the execution judge, to repay the debt on the specified dates, or if he reports on funds he has in the state; it may be executed upon it, and it is sufficient to pay off the debt.
- If it was established by a report from the competent medical authority that the debtor has a chronic disease with no hope of recovery, and he cannot bear imprisonment with it.
- If the debt executed is less than one thousand riyals, unless it is a fine or an established alimony.
The execution judge may also postpone the imprisonment of the debtor in the following two cases:
- If it is proven by a report from the competent medical authority that the debtor has a temporary illness that does not bear imprisonment with, and the postponement shall be until his recovery.
- If the debtor is a pregnant woman, and the postponement shall be until after the lapse of two years from the delivery of the pregnancy for the care of the infant.
This, and the last paragraph of Article 514 of the Pleadings Law included that for filing a lawsuit for imprisonment, the same usual procedures for filing a lawsuit stipulated in Article 31 of the Civil and Commercial Procedures Law shall be followed.
However, the focus in this context is on the importance of what was stated in the judgment of the Court of Cassation mentioned above regarding the detail of the condition related to the burden of proving the capability of the ruled against and his ability to implement this judgment, since Court of Cassation considered that the timing for knowing the extent of the debtor’s ability to implement is at the time of filing the imprisonment lawsuit, not at a date prior to this procedure, unless he has deliberately disposed of the funds to evade the implementation of the judicial ruling, in the sense that it is not enough to prove the capability of the ruled against and his ability to implement this judgment, but the capability of the ruled against and his ability to implement this judgment must also be proven since the imprisonment case was filed, not after, and the only exception to this condition and as indicated by the Court of Cassation is the intentional disposal of funds by the ruled against to evade the execution of a court ruling.
Finally, if the ruled against performs what he was sentenced to, or another person fulfills it on his behalf, or brings an acceptable guarantor, or the creditor requests his release, the ruled against with imprisonment shall be released.