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'New arbitration laws enable investors to fight for their rights against blockading countries'

'New arbitration laws enable investors to fight for their rights against blockading countries'


Malek Helali
Doha
BLOCKADING GCC countries enacted modern arbitration laws to attract foreign investment, but have fallen short in delivery forcing investors to consider legal action against them, a Qatari legal expert has said.
Speaking at a colloquium on arbitration in the Middle East hosted by Hamad Bin Khalifa University's College of Law and Public Policy on Wednesday, Sultan al Abdullah, co-director of Sultan Al Abdullah and partners law firm argued that mass claims and collective settlement can be an alternative to individual court proceedings in order to save time and expenses of Qatari and international investors who were affected by the blockade.
Abdullah added that a recent statistic reported 6300 complaints resulting from the blockade so far.
He noted that collective claims to international arbitration institutions are very costly and might require third-party funding which calls for addressing the concern of the admissibility of third-party funding in Qatar.
Abdullah shed light on the challenges faced in arbitration due to the blockade, and said that they recently had to move hearings involving nationals of the blockade countries from Doha to Paris.
Thani bin Ali al Thani, president of Qatar International Center for Conciliation and Arbitration, highlighted the development of arbitration in Qatar, explaining that resorting to an arbitration centre is a faster alternative for regular courts' proceedings.
He noted:"The arbitration law of 2017 came after much anticipation and represents a quantum leap in Qatar's legal system with 38 clauses that specify the licensing mechanism for arbitrators and arbitration centres. The law also expanded the written form of arbitration agreements to include electronic letters along with physical documents."
Thani noted that the arbitration clause of a contract remains applicable even if the contract is cancelled. However, one disadvantage of the arbitration clause is preventing any party of the contract from resorting to traditional court to resolve disputes.
According to him, the arbitration law sets a one-month deadline for issuing the decision and the deadline can be extended by a maximum of one month unless the contract states otherwise.
Christopher Grout, lawyer at Qatar International Court and Dispute Resolution Center, said that parties are given the choice to elect either a competent court or the arbitration centre to supervise the arbitration procedure.
"However, in cases where the contracts do not explicitly specify the supervising party, a domestic Qatari court will automatically supervise the arbitration", Grout explained.
Julian Bailey, Partner at White and Case International law firm, said that the challenge for arbitration centres in Qatar is demonstrating to international users that Qatar has a legal framework for arbitration as well as applicable arbitration laws.
He said that, in order to attract international users, courts in the country should be supportive of arbitration and willing to enforce awards.
Bailey also noted that arbitration centers should establish an arbitration community of experts and academics, issue publications on arbitration and have the means of supporting arbitration such as hearing rooms, translators and accommodation.
The legal experts also discussed means of advancing Qatar's position as an international arbitration centre.

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