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The QFC Court expands its jurisdiction in Qatar

  • Legal Development 23 November 2021 23 November 2021
  • Middle East

  • Commercial Disputes

The Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) based Qatar International Court and Dispute Resolution Centre (QICDRC), has expanded its jurisdiction to encompass the Qatar Free Zones. This gives companies formed in the Free Zones the right to use the QICDRC for disputes and to hold regulatory hearings before its Tribunal.

The QFC Court expands its jurisdiction in Qatar

Background

The QICDRC is an English speaking, common-law centre established within the QFC. The QFC is a standalone, onshore, and common-law jurisdiction (except for the Penal Code), does not apply any domestic Qatar Law. Unlike Qatar’s civil-law domestic jurisdiction, the QICDRC applies QFC law and maintains a body of published case law.

Led by its President, the Rt. Hon. The Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, the QICDRC boasts a high quality and international bench which counts British, South African, Indian, Chinese and native Qatari judges among its members. Their expertise has helped to establish the QICDRC’s regional reputation as an efficient, specialist centre for dispute resolution.

Under QFC Law No.2 of 2009 the QICDRC was established as two Court systems with two distinct jurisdictions:

The Qatar Financial Centre Regulatory Tribunal (the Tribunal)

Chaired by Sir William Blair, the Tribunal has jurisdiction over challenges filed by individuals and entities against decisions by the QFC Authorities, the Regulatory Authority and other QFC institutions.

The Qatar International Court (QIC)

The QIC has a broad jurisdiction over civil and commercial disputes involving QFC established entities, the QFC Authorities and QFC contractors and employees. The Court is chaired by QICDRC President, the Rt. Hon. The Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd.

Extension to the Free Zones

As of 13 October 2021, these jurisdictions have now been extended by Qatar Laws No. 14 and 15 of 2021 to include matters relating to the Qatar Free Zones:

The Qatar Financial Centre Regulatory Tribunal will now hear appeals from the decisions of the Qatar Free Zone Authority relating to the revocation or suspension of licences of companies established in the Qatar Free Zones.

In addition, the Qatar International Court will now have jurisdiction over all civil and commercial disputes relating to the Qatar Free Zones.

Conclusions

This expansion is a welcome change, particularly for Free Zone established companies originating from common law countries who will now have access to a modern, common-law court operating to the same standards of independence and impartiality as other major commercial jurisdictions. No doubt foreign businesses and investors will benefit from the certainty and security that this change will provide. 

 

If you have any queries or require further information on the above, please contact the authors below.

End

Additional authors:

James McLellan, Associate

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