The establishment of a new court in Qatar: Investment and Commerce

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As Qatar begins to establish itself as a strong player in the global market, its government has sought new ways to attract interest and investment. In October 2021, Law No. 21 Establishing the Investment and Commerce Court was passed and shall come into force in May 2022.

In Qatar, many disputes are litigated in court rather than through alternative dispute resolution such as arbitration which still proves to be particularly expensive for parties. As Qatar’s economy continues to grow with the help of domestic companies as well as foreign investors, naturally more commercial disputes have begun to arise. The current litigation process is particularly lengthy and requires the appointment of court experts who are required to delve into the facts of the case, assess the evidence, and provide a report to the courts before the judge can make his final judgment. With the establishment of the new court, commercial disputes can be resolved more efficiently and with the required level of knowledge and expertise which in turn shall provide greater consistency in outcomes.

The new court shall be on the first instance and appellate levels and shall have jurisdiction over a wide range of commercial matters including:

  • Matters relating to commercial contracts, commercial assets, and commercial agency
  • Disputes arising between partners and shareholders
  • Competition law and public-private partnerships
  • Intellectual Property rights
  • The operation of banks, commercial securities, financial and investment companies

As one of the court’s aims is to provide a speedy and effective judicial recourse there are shorter time frames for appeals which must be filed within 15 days of the announcement of the judgment and for time-sensitive matters within 7 days. The law has embraced the use of technology and established an electronic system to maximize efficiency in the judicial process.

Additionally, another attractive provision of the law is the freedom for the parties to nominate an expert rather than be required to rely on experts in the court’s role. The parties shall have the freedom to nominate the expert at the start of proceedings or during the court proceedings. This is sure to facilitate the efficiency of proceedings as parties can be sure that the nominated expert has the required technical knowledge to address complex matters and quickly resolve disputes.

The introduction of the new court sees an evolution of the Qatari judicial system, similar to those used as a venue to settle global disputes in London, Paris, New York, and Hong Kong. As Qatar’s presence grows in the commercial world, commercial parties and investors may begin to consider coming to Qatar to seek recourse for commercial matters.

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