Thursday, 20 September 2012

Qatar Civil and Commercial Court Official Practice Guide

On 28 July 2012 I discussed the Qatar International Court and Dispute Resolution Centre and on 28 June 2011 the Qatar Financial Centre: Civil and Commercial Court Regulations. The practice of the Court is now set out in an Official Practice Guide which has been prepared by the judges under the supervision of Lord Cullen with the approval of Lord Woolf.

Compared to the English court guides, the Official Practice Guide is very short, consisting of no more than 10 pages.   Its purpose is to
"provide parties to disputes and their legal representatives with practical information as to the general approach of the Court and what is expected of them in cases before the Court. Although the Practice Guide is issued under Article 37.2 of the Court’s Regulations and Rules of Procedure (“Regulations”), its contents do not have the force of law. However, the Practice Guide may be taken into account by the Court in assessing the conduct of parties to the litigation, for example, when a question of costs arises."
Constitution of the Court
The Guide explains that the Court two Divisions: a First Instance Division and an Appellate Division. Each of the judges is able to sit in either Division.  Trials take place before a single judge sitting alone while appeals lie to a bench of three.  

Challenges to the Court's jurisdiction are to be raised at the earliest practical opportunity.  Cause will have to be shown if a challenge is made at a later stage.  The Court may also decline jurisdiction of its own initiative or transfer cases to another court in Qatar.   It may accept jurisdiction if the parties so choose provided that there is a sufficient connection with Qatar.

Case Management
As in England cases are actively managed by the Court in accordance with the overriding interest.

Statements of Case
Again as in England, claims are begun by the issue of a claim form. The claimant must state the nature of the dispute, the facts relied on (but not the evidence), the legal basis for the claim and the remedy sought.   He or she should attach all documents that are of particular importance to the his or her case.  The defendant should indicate whether the claim or any part of it is admitted. To that end the defence should indicate to what extent the facts relied on by the claimant are accepted, or, as the case may be, are disputed.

Proceedings are usually conducted in English but parties have the right to use Arabic if they so wish.

Any lawyer qualified to practise before a superior court of any jurisdiction has the right to appear in the Court. Directions hearing can be conducted by telephone or video link.

Judgments are published on the Court's website in English and Arabic.  They are enforced by an Enforcement Judge.  

As I mentioned in  Qatar International Court and Dispute Resolution  the Court has extensive facilities for mediation and other forms of ADR and parties are encouraged to use them.

Further Information
Should anybody wish to discuss this topic further, he or she can call me on +44 161 850 0080 or fill in my contact form. He or she can also contact me through Facebook, Linkedin, Xing or twitter.

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