Use the Lexology Navigator tool to compare the answers in this article with those from 20+ other jurisdictions.

The award

Requirements

What legal requirements are there for recognition of an award? Must reasons be given for the award? Does the award need to be reviewed by any other body?

An arbitral award must be made in writing and include:

  • a copy of the arbitration agreement;
  • a brief summary of the claims of the parties and their supporting documents;
  • the reasons for the decision;
  • the text of the decision;
  • the date of the issuance of the award;
  • the place of the issuance of the award; and
  • the signature of the arbitrators (Article 202 of the Code of Civil and Commercial Procedure).

After some uncertainty in this regard, in a March 25 2014 decision, the Qatari Court of Cassation expressly stated that the enforcement of awards is not subject to the requirement that they be issued in the name of His Highness Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. In respect of awards rendered in Qatar, the award must be filed in the registry of the court with original jurisdiction over the dispute within 15 days of its issuance (Article 203 of the Code of Civil and Commercial Procedure).

Under the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) Arbitration Regulations, an award must:

  • be made in writing;
  • be signed by the arbitrators;
  • state the reasons on which it is based; and
  • state the date and seat of the arbitration (Article 37 of the QFC Arbitration Regulations).

It is therefore unnecessary to include a copy of the arbitration agreement. 

Timeframe for delivery

Are there any time limits on delivery of the award?

Under the Code of Civil and Commercial Procedure, absent any agreement by the parties, the arbitrators must issue a decision within three months from the date of their acceptance of the reference to arbitration. If the arbitral tribunal fails to issue its decision within that timeframe, any party may refer the dispute to the court with original jurisdiction to hear the dispute in order to either extend the time limit, appoint other arbitrators or settle the dispute itself (Article 197 of the Code of Civil and Commercial Procedure).

The draft arbitration law is expected to increase the time limit to 12 months, which the arbitral tribunal can extend for six months. If the tribunal fails to render the award within the time limit, the draft law is expected to provide that any party may refer to the president of the court with original jurisdiction over the dispute to order an extension or termination of the arbitration. In the latter case, any party may refer to the court with original jurisdiction to settle the dispute.

The QFC Arbitration Regulations, by contrast, contain no time limit for the issuance of the award.

Remedies

Does the law impose limits on the available remedies? Are some remedies not enforceable by the court?

Neither the Code of Civil and Commercial Procedure nor the QFC Arbitration Regulations impose restrictions on the types of remedy available in arbitration, as long as they are not contrary to public policy. As regards arbitrations under the Code of Civil and Commercial Procedure, this is problematic in relation to interest.

Remedies are determined by the substantive law. Where Qatari law applies to the substance of the dispute, it provides for full compensation for the damage that the claimant has suffered. Contractual liquidated damages are permissible. However, an arbitral tribunal is entitled to reduce liquidated damages which are exaggerated or if the obligation has been performed in part (Article 266 of the Civil Code). Punitive damages are not known under Qatari law.

What interim measures are available? Will local courts issue interim measures pending constitution of the tribunal?

Tribunals must seek the local courts’ assistance to perform the necessary judicial procedures for the settlement of the dispute and punish a witness who does not appear. In such cases, arbitrators must refer the request to the court with original jurisdiction over the dispute (Articles 199 and 201 of the Code of Civil and Commercial Procedure). It is unclear whether arbitral tribunals may order interim measures in other cases. The draft arbitration law is thus expected to confer on arbitral tribunals the power to grant interim measures.

The QFC Arbitration Regulations expressly confer the power on tribunals to issue interim measures in order to:

  • maintain or restore the status quo;
  • preserve assets to satisfy a subsequent award; or
  • preserve evidence (Article 22 of the QFC Arbitration Regulations).

Interest

Can interest be awarded?

Sharia law, which is the primary source of law in Qatar, generally prohibits the recovery of interest. Qatari courts have therefore rejected the enforcement of awards granting interest on the ground of a violation of public policy. However, a party can ask a tribunal for compensation for its financing charges. To prove its entitlement, the party must prove the amount of actual financing charges that it has incurred, typically with the assistance of a quantum expert, and cannot rely on a pre-determined rate of interest.

A party also cannot ask for damages or interest on the sums awarded in the award until the date of payment. Interest is not permissible under Qatari law, and damages cannot be proven in the arbitration as they are not yet incurred when the award is issued.

By contrast, under the QFC Arbitration Regulations, arbitral tribunals may award interest on the sums it directs to be paid (Article 38 of the QFC Arbitration Regulations). 

At what rate?

See the question above as regards the situation under the Code of Civil and Commercial Procedure.

As regards arbitration in the QFC, if the parties have agreed that the QFC Contract Regulations govern their contract, these regulations provide that the rate of interest will be the average bank short-term lending rate to prime borrowers prevailing in Qatar (Article 104(2) of the QFC Contract Regulations).

Finality

The award is final and binding on the parties, subject to any right of the parties to:

  • set aside the award (Articles 207-209 of the Code of Civil and Commercial Procedure);
  • appeal the award (Article 205 of the Code of Civil and Commercial Procedure); and
  • review the award (Article 206 of the Code of Civil and Commercial Procedure).

The grounds of appeal are wide, and there has been much criticism of them for this reason, as they do not follow the narrow approach taken in the New York Convention or the UNCITRAL Model Law. The draft arbitration law is expected to remove the possibility to appeal awards.

By contrast, the QFC Arbitration Regulations provide that recourse against an award may be made only by application for setting aside the award. It lists six limited grounds on the basis of which an award may be set aside (Article 41).

What if there are any mistakes?

The Code of Civil and Commercial Procedure does not expressly provide for the possibility for parties to seek the correction of mistakes. However, the parties can appeal the award to the court with original jurisdiction over the dispute; the court may then make the necessary corrections. However, the draft arbitration law is expected to address corrections to arbitral awards. 

By contrast, the QFC Arbitration Regulations provide for the possibility of correcting any:

  • errors in computation;
  • clerical or typographical errors; or
  • errors of similar nature (Article 40 of the QFC Arbitration Regulations).

Can the parties exclude by agreement any right of appeal or other recourse that the law of your jurisdiction may provide?

The parties can agree to waive their right to appeal an arbitral award (Article 205 of the Code of Civil and Commercial Procedure). They can waive only the right to have the award set aside once the award is issued (Article 208 of the Code of Civil and Commercial Procedure). Any agreement to waive the right to have the award set aside before the award is issued will thus be considered null and void.

The QFC Arbitration Regulations provide that a party is deemed to have waived its right to object if it proceeds with the arbitration without stating an objection, despite knowing that a provision of the QFC Arbitration Regulations has not been met (Article 9 of the QFC Arbitration Regulations). In these circumstances, a party could not rely on such non-compliance as a recourse against the award. Otherwise, the QFC Arbitration Regulations remain silent on the question of waiver and do not expressly allow the parties to limit the possibilities of challenging an award by agreement. The question of whether the parties can limit the possibility to set aside an award appears not to have been tested by courts. However, in line with case law in other UNCITRAL Model Law jurisdictions, it appears likely that there would be limits to such an agreement, and that such agreement could not conflict with QFC public policy and mandatory QFC law.

Appeal

What is the procedure for challenging awards?

The procedure under the Code of Civil and Commercial Procedure depends on whether it is an appeal, review or request for setting aside the award:

  • Arbitral awards may be appealed within 15 days following their filing with the court having original jurisdiction over the dispute, in accordance with the rules for appealing judgments (Article 205 of the Code of Civil and Commercial Procedure).
  • The time limit for a review is 30 days from the date on which the forgery or fraud was discovered, recognised or declared or when the decisive evidence was found. In the case of irregular representation, the time limit starts to run as of the date on which the award was notified (Articles 206 and 178 of the Code of Civil and Commercial Procedure).
  • A request for setting aside an arbitral award must be filed according to the normal procedures applicable to the court originally having jurisdiction over the dispute (Article 208 of the Code of Civil and Commercial Procedure).

Under the QFC Arbitration Regulations, an application to set aside an award may be made only to the QFC Tribunal. The application must be made within three months from the date on which the party making such request received the award. The time limit does not apply if the setting aside request was filed on the basis of a violation of QFC public policy (Article 41 of the QFC Arbitration Regulations). 

On what grounds can parties appeal an award?

The grounds under the Code of Civil and Commercial Procedure depend on whether it is an appeal, review or request to set aside the award. Arbitral awards may be appealed according to the rules applicable to appeals of court judgments; these grounds are not limited to any specific errors of fact or law (Article 205 of the Code of Civil and Commercial Procedure). Arbitral awards may be reviewed in case of fraud, forgery, perjury, dissimulation of evidence or irregular representation (Article 206 of the Code of Civil and Commercial Procedure). Arbitral awards may be set aside in the following cases (Article 207 of the Code of Civil and Commercial Procedure):

  • if the award was issued without an arbitration agreement, or pursuant to a document that was invalid or extinguished by prescription, or if the award went beyond the limits of the document, or contravened a rule of public policy or good conduct;
  • if the award was issued by arbitrators who had not been appointed pursuant to the law, or issued by arbitrators where they were not authorised to arbitrate in the absence of the others;
  • if the award is void or if there is an error of procedure which affects the award;
  • if the agreement to arbitrate is not made in writing;
  • if the subject of the dispute was neither determined in the arbitration agreement nor during the proceedings;
  • if the subject of the dispute is not arbitrable;
  • if one of the parties to the arbitration has no legal capacity; or
  • if the arbitrator is a minor, bankrupt, legally incapacitated or deprived of his or her civil rights due to a criminal offence.

The QFC Arbitration Regulations provide that recourse against an award may be made only by an application to set aside the award. It lists six limited grounds on which an award may be set aside (Article 41 of the QFC Arbitration Regulations):

  • if a party to the arbitration agreement was under incapacity, or the agreement was invalid under the law to which the parties have subjected it or, failing any indication, under the law of the QFC;
  • if the party requesting the setting aside of the award was not given proper notice of an arbitrator’s appointment or of the arbitral proceedings, or if it was unable to make its case;
  • if the award deals with a dispute not contemplated by or not falling within the terms of the submission to arbitration, or contains decisions on matters beyond the scope of the submission to arbitration, provided that, if the decisions on matters submitted to arbitration can be separated from those not so submitted, only that part of the award which contains decisions on matters not submitted to arbitration may be set aside;
  • if the composition of the arbitral tribunal or the arbitral procedure was not in accordance with the agreement of the parties, unless such agreement was in conflict with a provision of the QFC Arbitration Regulations from which the parties cannot derogate or, failing such agreement, was not in accordance with the QFC Arbitration Regulations;
  • if the subject matter of the dispute is not arbitrable under QFC law; or
  • if the award “is not in the interest” of the QFC.

Enforcement

What steps can be taken to enforce the award if there is a failure to comply?

See below.

Can awards be enforced in local courts?

Enforcement requires a court order granting leave to enforce. The requirements depend on whether the award is domestic or foreign.

In respect of awards rendered in Qatar, the award must be filed in the registry of the court with original jurisdiction over the dispute within 15 days of its issuance (Article 203 of the Code of Civil and Commercial Procedure). Each party may request the court with original jurisdiction to grant leave to enforce the award once it has been filed with the clerk of the court originally having jurisdiction over the dispute. The judge will issue the enforcement order after establishing the validity of the award and the arbitration agreement, and having made sure that there is no obstacle against its enforcement (Article 204 of the Code of Civil and Commercial Procedure).

With respect to foreign awards, a request is filed by summoning the other party to appear before the judge of the Higher Civil Court (Article 379 of the Code of Civil and Commercial Procedure). Foreign arbitral awards can be enforced in local courts subject to the following conditions, among others (Article 380 of the Code of Civil and Commercial Procedure):

  • The award was not rendered in violation of an exclusive jurisdiction of the Qatari courts.
  • The award was not rendered in violation of the international rules of jurisdiction of the country where it was made.
  • The parties were regularly summoned and duly represented in the arbitration.
  • The award has become res judicata.
  • The award is not contrary to a prior judgment issued by a Qatari court.
  • The award does not contravene the rules of public policy and good morals in Qatar.

In addition, the Code of Civil and Commercial Procedure requires reciprocity. The enforcement of a foreign award in Qatar will be granted under the same conditions as those required by that foreign jurisdiction for the enforcement of awards rendered in Qatar (Article 379 of the Code of Civil and Commercial Procedure).

How enforceable is the award internationally?

This depends on whether one of the conventions to which Qatar is a signatory applies and addresses enforcement. Qatar is a signatory of the New York Convention. The enforceability of an award rendered in Qatar in international jurisdictions will therefore depend primarily on whether those jurisdictions have acceded to the New York Convention.

Where the Convention on Judicial Cooperation between States of the Arab League of 1983 (the ‘Riyadh Convention’ applies, recognition and enforcement of arbitral awards is possible without a review of the subject matter of the underlying dispute, provided that the award does not violate public policy, morality or the principles of Sharia law (Article 37 of the Riyadh Convention).

To what extent might a state or state entity successfully raise a defence of state or sovereign immunity at the enforcement stage?

Qatari legislation is silent regarding the question of raising a defence of state or sovereign immunity. However, there appear to be no indications that state immunity does not apply.

In the reverse situation, when Qatar claimed sovereign immunity when an International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) award rendered against it was sought to be enforced in France, the French Court of Cassation in a July 6 2000 decision did not allow Qatar to claim sovereign immunity. It was held that an arbitration agreement referring to the ICC Rules, which provided that the parties had to comply with all awards, amounted to a waiver of immunity from execution. However, the French Court of Cassation has since adopted a different approach, whereby a state can claim immunity only if it has not expressly waived immunity of execution.

Are there any other bases on which an award may be challenged, and if so, by what?

Enforcement requires a court order granting leave to enforce. The requirements depend on whether the award is domestic or foreign.

In respect of awards rendered in Qatar, the award must be filed in the registry of the court with original jurisdiction over the dispute within 15 days of its issuance (Article 203 of the Code of Civil and Commercial Procedure). Each party may request the court with original jurisdiction to grant leave to enforce the award once it has been filed with the clerk of the court originally having jurisdiction over the dispute. The judge will issue the enforcement order after establishing the validity of the award and the arbitration agreement, and having made sure that there is no obstacle against its enforcement (Article 204 of the Code of Civil and Commercial Procedure).

With respect to foreign awards, a request is filed by summoning the other party to appear before the judge of the Higher Civil Court (Article 379 of the Code of Civil and Commercial Procedure). Foreign arbitral awards can be enforced in local courts subject to the following conditions, among others (Article 380 of the Code of Civil and Commercial Procedure):

  • The award was not rendered in violation of an exclusive jurisdiction of the Qatari courts.
  • The award was not rendered in violation of the international rules of jurisdiction of the country where it was made.
  • The parties were regularly summoned and duly represented in the arbitration.
  • The award has become res judicata.
  • The award is not contrary to a prior judgment issued by a Qatari court.
  • The award does not contravene the rules of public policy and good morals in Qatar.

In addition, the Code of Civil and Commercial Procedure requires reciprocity. The enforcement of a foreign award in Qatar will be granted under the same conditions as those required by that foreign jurisdiction for the enforcement of awards rendered in Qatar (Article 379 of the Code of Civil and Commercial Procedure).

How enforceable are foreign arbitral awards in your jurisdiction?

Foreign awards may be enforced in Qatar under the New York Convention, the Convention on Judicial Cooperation between States of the Arab League or the Gulf Council Convention for the Enforcement of Court Judgments. The New York Convention provides for recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitral awards as per the convention. However, there have been cases in which the Qatari courts have not recognised or enforced awards due to public policy, namely due to the fact that the awards were not issued in the name of His Highness Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. All judgments must be issued in the name of His Highness Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. The court in that particular case held that awards must also comply with this requirement. However, this position has since been overturned by the Qatari Court of Cassation. 

Will an award that has been set aside by the courts in the seat of arbitration be enforced in your jurisdiction?

Qatar is a signatory of the New York Convention, under which the enforcement of an award may be refused if it has been set aside by a competent authority of the country in which, or under the law of which, that award was made (Article V(1)(e) of the New York Convention). It is therefore to be expected that a Qatari court would not enforce such an award.

The QFC Arbitration Regulations expressly allow the QFC Tribunal to refuse the enforcement of a foreign award on the basis that it was set aside or suspended at the seat of the arbitration (Article 43 of the QFC Arbitration Regulations).

Click here to view the full article.