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What are the validity requirements for an arbitration agreement?
An arbitration agreement must be evidenced in writing, and may be made only by parties which are legally entitled to an adjudication of any of their disputed rights and obligations. The subject of the dispute must be specified in the arbitration agreement or during the arbitration (Article 190 of the Code of Civil and Commercial Procedure). The requirement that an arbitration agreement be evidenced in writing has been interpreted restrictively to exclude, for example, an arbitration agreement evidenced by electronic messages. However, the draft arbitration law is expected to adopt a wider concept of ‘writing’, and to include the possibility for an exchange of electronic messages or other means of communication which provide a record of an arbitration agreement. It is also expected to provide that an arbitration clause may be incorporated by reference into another document.
The written requirement under the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) Arbitration Regulations is much broader than under the Code of Civil and Commercial Procedure and includes, for example, emails and telegrams and arbitration agreements which have been incorporated by reference (Article 10 of the QFC Arbitration Regulations).
Special requirements apply with respect to public works and public procurement contracts. The Law on Tenders and Bids (24/2015) requires approval of the Ministry of Finance on recommendation of the head of the relevant government body for the contract in question (Article 34).
Further, where an agent of a party enters into an arbitration agreement, a special power of attorney is required (Article 721 of the Civil Code).
Enforcement of agreements
How are arbitration agreements enforced in your jurisdiction? What is the attitude of the national courts towards arbitration agreements?
National courts have given full effect to arbitration agreements. Any claim brought before local courts in violation of a valid arbitration agreement is deemed inadmissible (Article 192 of the Code of Civil and Commercial Procedure).
Can an arbitral tribunal with its seat in your jurisdiction consolidate separate arbitral proceedings under one or more contracts, and, if so, in what circumstances?
The Code of Civil and Commercial Procedure does not expressly address the consolidation of proceedings. Subject to any applicable institutional rules, consolidation of various arbitrations would require the parties’ agreement.
By contrast, the QFC Arbitration Regulations expressly provide that a tribunal, on the request of the parties to two or more arbitrations, may order the arbitration proceedings to be consolidated on terms it considers just (Article 20 of the QFC Arbitration Regulations).
Choice of law
How is the substantive law of the dispute determined? Where the substantive law is unclear, how will a tribunal determine what it should be?
The parties are free to agree on the law applicable to the substance of the dispute. In case the parties have not chosen an applicable law, the laws of Qatar will apply to any arbitration seated in Qatar (Article 198 of the Code of Civil and Commercial Procedure).
Under the QFC Arbitration Regulations, the parties are free to designate the law applicable to the substance of the dispute. Absent such agreement, the tribunal must apply the law determined by the conflict of laws rules it deems applicable (Article 34 of the QFC Arbitration Regulations).
Are there any provisions on the separability of arbitration agreements?
The Code of Civil and Commercial Procedure does not refer to the separability of arbitration agreements. However, Qatari courts have confirmed in several instances the autonomy of arbitration clauses.
The QFC Arbitration Regulations clearly state that an arbitration clause which forms part of a contract must be treated as an agreement independent from the other terms of the contract (Article 21(1) of the QFC Arbitration Regulations).
Are multiparty agreements recognised?
Both the Code of Civil and Commercial Procedure and the QFC Arbitration Regulations are silent with respect to multiparty arbitration agreements. However, as multiparty agreements are recognised under Qatari law generally, the same should apply to multiparty arbitration agreements.
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