Out-Law Analysis 2 min. read

Qatar establishes new specialised investment and commerce court

Investors in Qatar will welcome the establishment of the country’s new Investment and Commerce Court, its first step towards a specialised judicial system.

Qatar’s Law No. 21 of 2021 Establishing the Investment and Commerce Court was issued in October 2021, and will be of significant benefit to parties that choose litigation over arbitration. Litigation of commercial disputes in Qatar – particularly construction disputes – typically involves the appointment of court-appointed experts, and requires judges with considerable technical and commercial experience to understand the complex legal and technical issues in dispute.

Qatar’s infrastructure and energy plans present a significant, attractive opportunity for foreign investors. The availability of a new specialised Investment and Commerce Court, as well as its modern arbitration law, will provide investors in Qatar with considerable comfort that disputes, should they arise, will be resolved in a just and efficient manner.

Jurisdiction of the Investment and Commerce Court

The new court consists of two levels: the Circuits of First Instance and Circuits of Appeal.

Article 7 of the law gives the court jurisdiction over:

  • disputes relating to commercial contacts, including commercial representation contracts and commercial agencies;
  • lawsuits between merchants and relating to their commercial activities;
  • disputes between partners or shareholders, or between any of them and the company, in commercial companies, including public shareholding companies whose shares are listed for trading;
  • disputes relating to commercial assets;
  • disputes relating to investment of non-Qatari capital in Qatari economic activity;
  • disputes relating to marine sales;
  • disputes relating to bank transactions, commercial papers, insurance companies, finance and investment companies;
  • disputes relating to bankruptcy and preventive composition;
  • disputes relating to patents, trade marks, industrial models, trade secrets and other intellectual property (IP) rights;
  • disputes relating to protecting competition, preventing monopolies and combating practices harmful to national products in international trade;
  • disputes relating to electronic commerce and transactions;
  • disputes relating to public-private partnership contracts.

Efficient dispute resolution

Typically, commercial parties in Qatar will invest significant time and effort into attempting to settle disputes over formal dispute resolution proceedings, in part to avoid the perceived risk of litigation.

The new law has clearly been drafted with increased efficiency in mind. It sets out accelerated periods for submissions and short periods for appeal submissions. It also establishes a ‘Lawsuit Management Office’ – the first of its kind in Qatar – which is able to require the parties to deposit all documents supporting their claim or defence at the time of their submission.

Pamela McDonald

Pamela McDonald

Partner, Head of Office, Doha, Co-head of International Arbitration

The new court will provide investors in Qatar with considerable comfort that disputes, should they arise, will be resolved in a just and efficient manner

The law prevents the litigation delays commonly complained of by requiring parties to produce all elements at the start. New documents are not allowed to be introduced at a later date if these were in a party’s possession when filing.

Article 13 of the law confirms that an electronic system will be established to enable electronic filing of lawsuits, requests for orders on petitions, provisional orders, payment orders and other claims.

The efficient resolution of commercial disputes is of current relevance in light of many of the complex infrastructure projects currently being built in Qatar in preparation for the 2022 FIFA World Cup and in line with Qatar’s National Vision 2030, under which it is aiming to achieve considerable growth with the help of international investors.

Party-nominated experts

It is particularly significant that the Investment and Commerce Court will facilitate the appointment of party-nominated experts. Parties to infrastructure and energy disputes will find this encouraging and helpful since it allows for evidence from specialised, trained, experienced professionals, including those specialising in fields such as quantum and delay.

Impact on arbitration

Arbitration continues to offer a confidential, specialised and flexible alternative dispute resolution solution in Qatar, capable of being conducted in languages other than Arabic.

Qatar’s Law No. 2 of 2017, the Civil and Commercial Arbitration Law, remains a clear preference for several public and private entities in the country, especially international parties seeking to have their disputes resolved in English language by international specialist arbitral tribunals.

We are processing your request. \n Thank you for your patience. An error occurred. This could be due to inactivity on the page - please try again.