Use the Lexology Navigator tool to compare the answers in this article with those for 20+ other jurisdictions.
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?
Recognition of awards
Recognition of an award may be refused only in the limited circumstances listed in Article 35 of the Arbitration Law. These are the same reasons that allow the refusal of the enforcement of an award and will therefore be considered below when discussing the enforcement of awards.
Giving reasons for arbitral awards
The general rule is that reasons for the award should be given; however, reasons need not be given where:
- the parties agree otherwise;
- the tribunal issues a consent award; or
- the applicable legal rules do not require the statement of reasons (Article 31(2) of the Arbitration Law).
Review by other bodies
The award does not have to be reviewed by another body. Although an electronic copy should be sent to the Ministry of Justice (Article 31(11) of the Arbitration Law), this is for information purposes only.
Under the Article 37 of 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.
It is unnecessary to include a copy of the arbitration agreement and the award does not need to be reviewed by any other body.
Timeframe for delivery
Are there any time limits on delivery of the award?
In the absence of an agreement between the parties, the final award should be issued within one month of the conclusion of the proceedings, although the tribunal may extend this time limit by up to one month (Article 31(5) of the Arbitration Law).
The QFC Arbitration Regulations contains no time limit for the issuance of the award.
Does the law impose limits on the available remedies? Are some remedies not enforceable by the court?
Neither the Arbitration Law nor the QFC Arbitration Regulations impose restrictions on the types of remedy available in arbitration. Remedies are determined by the substantive law. If Qatari law applies to the substance of the dispute, Qatari law provides for full compensation for the damage that the claimant has suffered. Contractual liquidated damages are permissible. However, an arbitral tribunal can reduce liquidated damages which are exaggerated or if the obligation has been performed in part (Article 266 of the Civil and Commercial Code). Punitive damages are not recognised under Qatari law.
What interim measures are available? Will local courts issue interim measures pending constitution of the tribunal?
The new Arbitration Law now expressly lists the powers that a tribunal must take interim measures. Under Article 17(1), a tribunal may take measures to:
- maintain or restore the status quo;
- prevent the occurrence of current or imminent damage that would prejudice the arbitration or prevent the adoption of procedures that might result in such damage or prejudice;
- preserve the assets by means of which later awards may be executed; and
- preserve evidence that could be important or material to the determination of the dispute.
In terms of the local courts’ powers to issue interim measures, Article 9 provides that the competent judge may order interim or precautionary measures before the commencement of proceedings or during the proceedings, if the tribunal does not have jurisdiction or is incapable of acting effectively at the time.
The QFC Arbitration Regulations expressly confer on tribunals the power to issue interim measures to maintain or restore the status quo, preserve assets to satisfy a subsequent award or preserve evidence (Article 22).
Can interest be awarded?
Sharia law, which is the primary source of law in Qatar, generally prohibits the recovery of interest. The Qatari courts have therefore rejected the enforcement of awards granting interest on the grounds that it is a violation of public policy.
However, a party can ask a tribunal for compensation for its financing charges. To prove its entitlement, it would have to prove the amount of actual financing charges it has incurred, typically with the assistance of a quantum expert, and could not 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 impermissible under Qatari law, and damages cannot be proven during the arbitration as they will not yet have incurred.
By contrast, under the QFC Arbitration Regulations, tribunals may award interest on the sums it directs to be paid (Article 38 of the QFC Arbitration Regulations).
At what rate?
As regards arbitration in the QFC, if the parties have agreed that the QFC Contract Regulations govern their contract, the QFC Contract 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).
Is the award final and binding?
Under the new Arbitration Law, awards are final and binding. Recourse against an award can be made only by application for setting aside the award on the narrow grounds set out in Article 33(2). This is one of the major improvements of the Arbitration Law compared to the previous arbitration regime under the Civil and Commercial Code, which had separate processes to appeal, review or set aside an award on much wider grounds. The current regime is aligned to that of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Model Law.
The QFC Arbitration Regulations also provide that recourse against an award may be made only by applying to set aside the award and list six limited grounds to do so (Article 41).
What if there are any mistakes?
The parties have seven days from the receipt of an arbitral award to request the correction of any material computational or typographical errors or seek an interpretation of specific issues. If the tribunal considers the request justified, it will make the correction and interpretation within seven days of receipt of the request. The tribunal can also correct any errors of its own volition, provided that it gives notice to the parties, within seven days of the award’s issue (Article 32 of the Arbitration Law).
The QFC Arbitration Regulations also provide for the possibility of correcting any computational, clerical, typographical or other similar errors (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?
Both the Arbitration Law and the QFC Arbitration Regulations are silent on the question of waiver and do not expressly allow the parties to limit the possibilities of challenging an award by agreement. Whether parties can limit the possibility to set aside an award appears not to have been tested by the 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 should not conflict with public policy and mandatory law.
What is the procedure for challenging awards?
An application must be made to the competent court within one month of receipt of the award. However, the parties may agree in writing to extend that time limit (Article 33(4) of the Arbitration Law).
Under the QFC Arbitration Regulations, an application for setting aside an award may only be made to the QFC Tribunal. Such application must be made within three months from the date that the party making such request received the award. The time limit does not apply if the setting aside request was filed based on a violation of QFC public policy (Article 41 of the QFC Arbitration Regulations).
On what grounds can parties appeal an award?
The only grounds on which a party can apply to set aside an award are set out in Article 33(2) of the Arbitration Law, which mirror those in Article 34(2) of the UNCITRAL Model Law:
- a party to the arbitration agreement did not have capacity to enter into the arbitration agreement or the arbitration agreement is invalid;
- the party making the application was not given proper notice of the appointment of an arbitrator, or of the proceedings, or was unable to present its defence for any other reasons beyond its control;
- the award decides matters which go beyond the scope of the arbitration agreement; or
- the composition or appointment of the tribunal, or the proceedings, were not in accordance with the agreement of the parties.
Further, the competent court will set aside the arbitral award on its own motion if the subject matter of the dispute is not capable of settlement by arbitration or the arbitral award violates the public policy of Qatar (Article 33(3) of the Arbitration Law).
The QFC Arbitration Regulations provide that recourse against an award may only be made by application for setting aside the award. It lists six limited grounds on which an award may be set aside (Article 41 QFC Arbitration Regulations). These mirror the grounds for setting aside an award under Article 33(2) of the Arbitration Law. However, whereas the Arbitration Law provides that an award should not violate the public policy of Qatar, the QFC Arbitration Regulations provide that an award should violate the ‘interest’ of the QFC.
What steps can be taken to enforce the award if there is a failure to comply?
The party seeking enforcement should apply for enforcement to the competent court, along with a copy of the arbitration agreement and the award, accompanied by a certified Arabic translation (Article 34(2) of the Arbitration Law).
A party can resist enforcement on the narrow circumstances listed in Article 35(1) of the Arbitration Law, which are the same grounds that a party can rely on to challenge an award. In addition, a party can resist enforcement, if the award has been set aside or enforcement has been stayed in the country in which the award was issued or in accordance with the law thereof (Article 35(1)(e)).
Further, the competent court will refuse enforcement on its own motion if the subject matter of the dispute is incapable of settlement by arbitration or the arbitral award violates the public policy of Qatar (Article 35(2)).
The QFC Tribunal has sole and exclusive jurisdiction to hear applications for the enforcement of an award in the QFC under Article 42 of the QFC Arbitration Regulations. To seek enforcement of an award, a party should supply a duly authenticated original or copy of the award and the arbitration agreement. Article 43 lists the grounds based on which enforcement can be denied, which mirror those in the Arbitration Law.
Can awards be enforced in local courts?
Applications for enforcement can be made to the competent court.
No, the QFC Tribunal has exclusive jurisdiction over applications for the enforcement of a QFC award.
How enforceable is the award internationally?
This depends on whether one of conventions to which Qatar is a signatory applies, and whether that convention addresses enforcement. Qatar is a signatory to 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 Riyadh Convention applies, recognition and enforcement of arbitral awards is possible without a review of the subject matter of the underlying dispute if 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 defence of state or sovereign immunity of state entities preventing the execution of an award. However, there appears to be no indication that state immunity does not apply.
In the reverse situation, whereby Qatar claimed sovereign immunity when an International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) award rendered against it was sought to be enforced in France, in a July 6 2000 decision, the French Court of Cassation 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 Court of Cassation has since adopted a different approach whereby a state can claim immunity 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?
No, the above represent the only grounds on which an award may be challenged.
How enforceable are foreign arbitral awards in your jurisdiction?
Foreign awards may be enforced in Qatar under the New York Convention, the Riyadh Convention or the Gulf Convention. The New York Convention provides for recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitral awards.
The courts had previously held that all awards issued in Qatar needed to be issued in the name of His Highness the Emir of Qatar, but this position has since been overturned by the Qatari Court of Cassation. This is also not a requirement of the new Arbitration Law.
Will an award that has been set aside by the courts in the seat of arbitration be enforced in your jurisdiction?
The Arbitration Law expressly allows the competent court 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 35(1)(e) of the Arbitration Law).
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.