Decennial liability is an important mandatory provision of Qatar law affecting architects, engineers and contractors. It cannot be waived, assigned, limited or excluded.
Article 711 of the Civil Code (Law No. 22 of 2004) provides for decennial liability as follows:
“The contractor and the engineer shall jointly guarantee events occurring during ten years for any destruction or defect, total or partial, in such buildings as they have constructed or fixed installations as they have erected, even if such destruction or defect is the result of a fault in the actual land or the employer has approved defective buildings or installations. Such liability will cover any defects appearing in the buildings or installations that threaten their stability and safety.”
A Ministerial Resolution in 1989 issued by the Qatar Minister for Municipal Affairs and Agriculture and setting out the Executive Regulations for the Qatar Building Permit Law No. 4 of 1985 imposes a strict liability on the contractor and the architect/engineer in relation to this decennial liability.
Specifically, Article 711 provides that:
- contractors and engineers are jointly and severally liable (Article 711 (1)) – noting that the Civil Code does not define contractors and engineers, but in the original Arabic text of the Civil Code, the word Engineer comprises ‘designers’ and ‘architects’. Contractor does not include ‘subcontractor’ for the purposes of decennial liability While contractors and engineers will be jointly and severally liable to others, between themselves they will be responsible to the extent of their failures (see Articles 712 and 713). Article 713 (2) only allows sole liability to be assumed by the contractor in circumstances where the engineer is essentially an employee of the contractor (i.e. where the contractor uses his own internal engineering department to provide the designs/drawings).
- liability arises upon either the identification of a defect that threatens a building’s stability and/or safety or its partial/total collapse (Article 711 (1))
- liability arises despite the fact that a fault in the sub-surface conditions caused the defect or partial/total collapse or that the building’s owner approved the completed work (Article 711 (1))
- liability is attached to buildings, with a life cycle of less than 10 years, for the duration of its life cycle (Article 711 (2))
- a main contractors’ or engineers’ right to seek recourse against a subcontractor is not affected (Article 711 (3)), but the liability is not strict and remains one of breach of contract and/or negligence.
Article 714 provides that any claim under the decennial liability provisions must be brought within 3 years from the date of destruction or the defect being discovered.
Decennial liability is to be distinguished from contractual liability, which in, general terms, exists under Qatari law for a period of 15 years and Decennial liability will not be covered by a standard Professional Indemnity policies held by Engineers.
This article is based on our translation of the legislation and not the official legislation, which is only issued in Arabic.