The economy in Qatar has witnessed a significant boom driven by growing investment into the country from foreign companies and the continuous involvement of the state on an international scale. Qatar is said to be on the verge of an even bigger boom with the milestones of the 2022 FIFA World Cup and Qatar National Vision 2030 in the coming years. With such an exceptional amount of investment at stake, the commercial sector is therefore prone to increasing litigation and a need for legal services.
To better cope with such a rise, Qatar has taken significant measures over the last decade towards reforming its legal and judiciary system in order to conform to international best practices and standards, particularly with regards to dispute resolution methods. Further steps are said to be in the process and heading towards full reform in the near future.
Presently, foreign and local parties doing business in Qatar benefit from various options in resolving disputes that they face, should they opt out of resolving them through local national courts. For instance, investors entering into contracts with a party in Qatar are increasingly selecting arbitration as a method of dispute resolution. As is the case in other parts of the world, the choice of arbitration as a method for resolving disputes is increasingly popular given the numerous advantages it offers compared to resorting to national courts for settlement. The arbitration process is generally faster than the process led before judicial courts. Furthermore, it is private and provides added security, allowing one to select the arbitrator (or arbitrators) based on experience and knowledge in the matter at hand. Equally important, arbitration is less adversarial than litigation, which helps maintain a good business relationship between the parties if such intervention is required.
Institutional arbitration has been the most popular type of arbitration in Qatar. In fact, the majority of the local and foreign investing entities are choosing institutional over ad hoc arbitration, whereby the said parties are required to determine all aspects of the arbitration, such as the number of arbitrators, the manner of their appointment and the procedure. Institutional arbitration, on the other hand, has rules and guidelines that the parties must abide by when selecting such an arbitration process.
The process in an institutional arbitration is handled by a specialised institution that has its own rules and which provides a framework for the conduct of the proceedings. The availability of pre-established rules and procedures and a list of qualified arbitrators from which to choose is one of the main reasons institutional arbitration is now more attractive to investors. Some of the common institutions used in Qatar are the Court of International Arbitration at the International Chamber of Commerce, the London Court of International Arbitration, the Dubai International Arbitration Centre, as well as the Dubai International Finance Centre.
In Qatar local arbitration institutions are available, such as the Qatar International Centre of Arbitration, which was established in 2006 and is located in the Chamber of Commerce and Industry. It applies Qatari Civil and Commercial Procedure Law No. (13) of 1990.
A new centre of arbitration has been introduced recently in Qatar by the Qatar International Court and Dispute Resolution Centre, which was established in 2009 as a modern business court, but also offers alternative dispute resolution services in the form of arbitration and mediation.
One of the key factors that promotes foreign investment, and also supports growth and development of a market like Qatar, is the stability and security that an experienced, well-founded and fair legal and judicial system guarantees to investors coming into Qatar, providing the peace of mind that their interests would be protected by the appropriate systems should any dispute arise. Qatar has realised the importance of bringing such security to investors and is working steadily and concretely towards achieving these goals.
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