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General framework

Domestic law

Which domestic laws and regulations govern the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments in your jurisdiction?

Chapter 3 of the Civil and Commercial Procedure Code (Law 13/1990) governs the procedures relating to the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments in Qatar. 

International conventions

Which international conventions and bilateral treaties relating to the recognition and enforcement of judgments apply in your jurisdiction?

The Gulf Council Convention for the Enforcement of Court Judgments, Letters of Rogatory and Judicial Notices 1996 (the Gulf Convention) mandates reciprocal recognition of foreign judgments issued in Gulf Cooperation Council countries, which includes Qatar. The Gulf Convention does not provide a specific procedure for recognition, which is governed by the laws of the country where a request for recognition is submitted.

The League of Arab States, Riyadh Arab Agreement for Judicial Cooperation 1983 allows for the recognition and enforcement of court judgments between member states of the League of Arab States (including Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates). The convention stipulates that the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments is confined to establishing that a foreign judgment complies with the convention without examining its subject matter. The convention also allows for partial enforcement of foreign judgments which are divisible. 

Competent courts

Which courts are competent to hear cases on the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments?

At first instance, the Court of Execution hears cases for the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments.  Court of Execution decisions can be appealed to the Court of Appeal and the Court of Cassation. 

Distinction between recognition and enforcement

Is there a legal distinction between the recognition and enforcement of a judgment?

There is no legal distinction between the recognition and enforcement of a foreign judgment, although there are two different steps involved for recognition and enforcement, respectively.  

In order to recognise a foreign judgment, the Court of Execution must ensure that it satisfies the requisite conditions stipulated in the Civil and Commercial Procedural Code (for further details please see “Ease of enforcement”).

Once the Court of Execution is satisfied that the foreign judgment can be recognised, it will stamp and subsequently enforce it. This process is done by the same court.  

Ease of enforcement

In general, how easy is it to secure recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments in your jurisdiction?

The recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments in Qatar is governed by Articles 379 and 380 of the Civil and Commercial Procedural Code. Article 379 states that foreign judgments may be recognised and enforced in Qatar “on the same conditions that exist under the laws of that country”. Therefore, applicants must prove that a judgment issued by a Qatar court is enforceable in the jurisdiction that rendered the foreign judgment. Securing the recognition and enforcement of a foreign judgment in Qatar is generally easier if a level of reciprocity can be established between Qatar and the country that issued the foreign judgment (ie, that judgments issued by the Qatar courts enjoy the same enforceability treatment in the country that issued the foreign judgment). If this reciprocity cannot be established by any bilateral or multilateral treaty, the Court of Execution will call for evidence on the laws of the country that rendered the foreign judgment in relation to the conditions applicable to the execution of a Qatari judgment in the jurisdiction that issued the foreign judgment. 

In the absence of any reciprocal arrangement between Qatar and the country that rendered the foreign judgment, it may be challenging to secure the recognition and enforcement of that foreign judgment in Qatar, and the Qatar courts will likely refuse to recognise and enforce the judgment or rehear the dispute. There have been cases where the Court of Appeal has declined to enforce a foreign judgment on the basis that neither party submitted evidence establishing the existence of any bilateral or multilateral treaty concerning the recognition and enforcement of judgments and/or judgments issued by the Qatar courts being enforced in the jurisdiction of the foreign judgment in accordance with the principle of judicial comity.

Reform

Are any reforms to the framework on recognition and enforcement of judgments envisioned or underway?

No known reforms to the Qatari framework on recognition and enforcement of judgments are envisioned or underway.   

Conditions for recognition and enforcement

Enforceable judgments

Which types of judgment (eg, monetary judgments, mandatory or prohibitory orders) are enforceable in your jurisdiction and which (if any) are explicitly excluded from recognition and enforcement (eg, default judgments, judgments granting punitive damages)?

Foreign judgments that are deemed to violate the Qatari principles of public order and morality cannot be enforced. This includes judgments that contravene the principles of Sharia law – for instance, where the foreign judgments pertain to gambling, bribery or illicit sexual relationships.  

Public order and morality also include family law matters for Muslims – for instance, where the foreign judgments pertain to inherences matters which would differ from what would be granted under Sharia law.

How are foreign judgments subject to appeal treated?

Foreign judgments that are subject to appeal are not considered final under Article 380 of the Civil and Commercial Procedure Code (Law 13/1990). As such, they cannot be recognised and enforced in the Qatari courts until the appeals process has been exhausted. 

Formal requirements

What are the formal and documentary requirements for recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments?

The original foreign judgment (and any relevant documents) must be authenticated by the Qatari embassy in the foreign country that issued the judgment, which may include the documents being certified by the ministry of foreign affairs of the foreign country that issued the judgment as a preliminary step. Thereafter, the original foreign judgment (and any relevant documents) must be certified by the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs and translated into Arabic before being submitted to the Court of Execution. Applicants must also produce a certificate to confirm that the foreign judgment is final and not subject to any appeal. 

Further, the applicant must provide proof that the party against whom the foreign judgment is being sought was properly represented in the underlying foreign judgment proceeding unless the foreign judgment clearly shows this. 

Substantive requirements

What substantive requirements (if any) apply to the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments? Are enforcing courts in your jurisdiction permitted to review the foreign judgment on the merits?

Applicants must satisfy the reciprocity requirement, showing evidence that the competent court in the relevant foreign jurisdiction would enforce Qatari court judgments, as stipulated in Article 379 of the Civil and Commercial Code. Article 379 states that foreign judgments may be recognised and enforced in Qatar “on the same conditions that exist under the laws of that country”. Therefore, applicants must prove that a judgment issued by a Qatar court is enforceable in the jurisdiction that rendered the foreign judgment. Securing the recognition and enforcement of a foreign judgment in Qatar is generally easier if a level of reciprocity can be established between Qatar and the country that issued the foreign judgment (ie, that judgments issued by the Qatar courts enjoy the same enforceability treatment in the country that issued the foreign judgment). If this reciprocity cannot be established by any bilateral or multilateral treaty, the Court of Execution will call for evidence on the laws of the country that rendered the foreign judgment in relation to the conditions applicable to the execution of a Qatari judgment in the jurisdiction that issued the foreign judgment. 

 In addition, the Qatari courts will not issue an order to recognise and enforce a foreign judgment unless the requirements set out in Article 380 of the Civil and Commercial Procedure Code are satisfied:  

  • The Qatari courts cannot be the sole competent body to determine the underlying subject matter of a dispute that is the subject of a foreign judgment. If the Qatari courts decide that the underlying subject matter of a dispute is subject to their jurisdiction, they will not order the foreign judgment’s recognition and enforcement.
  • A foreign court which renders a foreign judgment must have jurisdiction to do so according to the country’s conflict of law provisions.   
  • The parties to the proceedings in which a foreign judgment is issued must have been cognisant of and duly represented in such proceedings.
  • A foreign judgment must have acquired the force of res judicata in accordance with the laws of the country in which it was issued and be deemed final.
  • A foreign judgment cannot contradict any judgment issued in Qatar or breach or violate the principles of morality and public order enshrined in Qatari law.      

Limitation period

What is the limitation period for enforcement of a foreign judgment?

Qatari law is silent on this.

In practice, the maximum statutory time limit of 15 years will likely apply to the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments. This accrues from the date on which a foreign judgment is issued. 

Grounds for refusal

On what grounds can recognition and enforcement be refused?

The recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments can be refused if the requirements stipulated in Articles 379 and 380 of the Civil and Commercial Procedural Code have not been met. 

Service of process

To what extent does the enforcing court review the service of process in the original foreign proceedings?

One of the requirements that must be met under Article 380 of the Civil and Commercial Procedure Code is that the parties to proceedings in which a foreign judgment is issued must have been cognisant of and duly represented in such proceedings. Therefore, the Court of Enforcement will review the service of process in the original foreign proceedings should the party resisting the recognition and enforcement of the proceedings do so on the basis that it was not cognisant or properly represented in the original foreign proceedings.

As long as evidence that the parties were properly notified exists, this would be sufficient to satisfy the Court of Enforcement. 

Public policy

What public policy issues are considered in the court’s decision to grant recognition and enforcement? Is there any notable case law in this regard?

One public policy issue that has arisen in Qatari court jurisprudence is the absence of essential details in foreign judgments, which has resulted in the Court of Enforcement refusing to recognise and enforce certain foreign judgments on the basis that they violate public order.

Another public policy issues that arises is the mandatory registration of commercial agency agreements in the registry maintained by the Department of Commercial Affairs in the Ministry of Economy. Any foreign judgment that allows claims arising from agency agreements that are not registered by the Department of Commercial Affairs will be considered a violation of public order.

Jurisdiction

What is the extent of the enforcing court’s power to review the personal and subject-matter jurisdiction of the foreign court that issued the judgment?

The Court of Enforcement typically reviews foreign judgements that are being sought for recognition and enforcement to the extent necessary to satisfy itself that:

  • the parties to the original foreign proceedings were cognisant of and duly represented in such proceedings; and
  • the subject matter of the underlying dispute does not contravene public order or morality under Qatari law, as stipulated in Article 380 of the Civil and Commercial Procedural Code.  

The Court of Enforcement does not usually review the merits of foreign judgments.

Concurrent proceedings and conflicting judgments

How do the courts in your jurisdiction address applications for recognition and enforcement where there are concurrent proceedings (foreign or domestic) or conflicting judgments involving the same parties/dispute?

The Court of Enforcement will issue an order to enforce a foreign judgment only once it is satisfied that it is final. Under Qatari law, a judgment is final when it is not appealable.   

Opposition

Defences

What defences are available to the losing party to a foreign judgment that is sought to be recognised and enforced in your jurisdiction?

The losing party to a foreign judgment can argue that it was not properly served with or properly represented in the foreign proceedings or that the foreign judgment is not final, as per Article 380 of the Civil and Commercial Procedural Code (Law 13/1990). If the requirements stipulated in the code are not satisfied, the Enforcement Court will not grant the foreign judgment’s recognition and enforcement.

Injunctive relief

What injunctive relief is available to defendants (eg, anti-suit injunctions)?

No injunctive relief is available to defendants. 

Recognition and enforcement procedure

Formal procedure

What is the formal procedure for seeking recognition and enforcement of a foreign judgment?

To initiate the procedure for recognising a foreign judgment, the judgment must be deposited with the Qatari courts, along with an authenticated and certified translation in Arabic if necessary.

Once recognition of the foreign judgment has been satisfied, a writ of execution must be filed in the Court of Execution, after which the applicant will be provided with a hearing date for the execution order to be granted. Unless specific provisions state otherwise, the debtor will be given at least one day’s notice before the writ of execution is carried out. 

Timeframe

What is the typical timeframe for the proceedings to grant recognition and enforcement?

Qatari law does not provide for a timeframe for the enforcement of a foreign money judgment, as this is subject to the court being satisfied that the requirements to grant the recognition and enforcement of the foreign judgment have been met. Further, the timeframe is dependent on how the parties choose to put their arguments before the court and whether any judgment issued is appealed to the Court of Appeal and the Court of Cassation. However, in practice, this process takes approximately one year from the commencement of the recognition and enforcement proceedings until its conclusion.

Fees

What fees apply to applications for recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments?

The court fees applicable to the registration of a foreign judgment in Qatar is QR1,000. In addition, applicants will incur the professional fees of engaging a law firm to assist in the application. 

Security

Must the applicant for recognition and enforcement provide security for costs?

Applicants seeking the recognition and enforcement of a foreign judgment in Qatar need not provide security for costs.

Appeal

Are decisions on recognition and enforcement subject to appeal?

Yes, Court of Execution decisions can be appealed to the Court of Appeal and the Court of Cassation. In 2012 the Court of Appeal refused to enforce a French judgment on the basis that it was not final as the respondent had appealed it before the French Court of Appeal. 

Other costs

How does the enforcing court address other costs issues arising in relation to the foreign judgment (eg, calculation of interest, exchange rates)?

If a foreign money judgment is in a foreign currency, it need not be converted into local currency. At the point of execution, the applicant must ask the Qatar Central Bank for the relevant exchange rate, which will be applied to the foreign judgment.

Interest on foreign judgments is allowed as compensation. 

Enforcement against third parties

To what extent can the courts enforce a foreign judgment against third parties?

During proceedings regarding the enforcement of a foreign judgment, the Qatari courts can ask government entities, the Qatar Central Bank and statutory bodies, among others, whether they possess any assets or monies which belong to the party against which the foreign judgment is being sought.

Further, a specific request can be made under Article 445 of the Civil and Commercial Procedural Code to see whether the applicant knows of any debt owed to the party against which the foreign judgment is being sought by a third party. The specific request can be done orally or by way of a written application at the hearing. Such debt need not be due immediately and can be conditional. Only moveables or debts of the debtor that are in the third party’s possession can be the subject of the foreign judgment enforcement proceeding.

Once such a request has been made, the court will issue a letter to the third party asking it to confirm the amount of debt owed to the debtor and the nature of the debt. Once the formalities have been satisfied, the court will order the third party to deposit the amount owed to the debtor to the court, which will subsequently be released to the applicant. 

Partial recognition and enforcement

Can the courts grant partial recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments?

The law is silent on whether the Qatari courts can grant partial recognition and enforcement of a foreign judgment. If the courts cannot recognise and enforce part of a foreign judgment, they can grant partial recognition and enforcement relating to only the specific portion of the foreign judgment that is able to be recognised and enforced, as envisaged in the League of Arab States, Riyadh Arab Agreement for Judicial Cooperation 1983.