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Civil and commercial arbitration law due soon in Qatar, says report

Qatar is working on an arbitration law covering civil and commercial disputes, according to press reports citing the Qatar News Agency.02 Mar 2015

Qatar's Minister of Justice Hassan bin Lahdan Saqr Al Mohannadi met Abdulrahman Abdulghani, the latest chairman of the board of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Arbitration Centre, this month.

Abdulghani, a Qatari citizen, is keen to coordinate with the Ministry of Justice on an arbitration law, the report said. Delegates at the meeting reviewed the GCC's report for 2014 and its draft arbitration law for Qatar.

Efforts will be coordinated with the Qatar Chamber, which will register and train arbitrators, the report said.

A new arbitration law is essential for the country, said international arbitration expert Björn Gehle of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com.

The current arbitration law in Qatar stems from a time when the use of arbitration was still in its infancy in in the Gulf, Gehle said, and "in its current state it is outdated and does not meet the standards of a modern arbitration law, which is essential to give foreign investors the confidence that they can have access to a quick, effective and just dispute resolution process outside the local courts in case a dispute arises".

In the past, companies as well as private investors have had some poor experiences with proceedings in the Qatari Courts, Gehle said "especially when it comes to the enforcement of local or foreign arbitral awards, where the Courts have regularly refused to enforce arbitral awards".

The New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards came into effect in Qatar in March 2003, and Gehle said that it is time to formally implement its obligations under that Convention into a new arbitration law.

Saudi Arabia brought in a modern arbitration law in 2012, one of the first countries in the Gulf region to do so, Gehle said.

"The United Arab Emirates, one of the busiest places for arbitration in the region, has promised a new arbitration law for a very long time, without any visible result to date. If Qatar acts swiftly and brings out a modern arbitration law in accordance with best international standards – such as one that takes close guidance from the UNCITRAL Model Law on Arbitration – that would build confidence and trust for the international community and Qatar could propel itself as one of the major hubs for arbitration within the region," Gehle said.