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Conditions for recognition and enforcement
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)?
Generally, all types of judgment are enforceable, provided that they:
- satisfy the criteria set out in Article 380 of the Civil Procedure Code (as discussed below);
- have been issued in accordance with the laws and procedures in place in the foreign jurisdiction; and
- do not violate public policy or morals (eg, a judgment in relation to a gambling debt would be unenforceable in Qatar).
Interim orders of a foreign court are not generally enforced in Qatar; however, if it can be demonstrated to the execution court’s satisfaction that the relevant order has attained finality, it may be enforceable.
How are foreign judgments subject to appeal treated?
Pursuant to Article 380 of the Civil Procedure Code, a foreign judgment must be, among other things, final and not subject to subsequent appeals. Accordingly, if a foreign judgment may be appealed, it will not be enforceable in Qatar. Further, from a procedural perspective, foreign judgments must also include a certificate of finality from the issuing court. It is unlikely that such a certificate will be issued if the judgment remains subject to further levels of appeal.
What are the formal and documentary requirements for recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments?
The applicant must present the judgment to the Execution Court. The judgment itself must be notarised, legalised and authenticated up to the Qatar embassy in the relevant foreign country. Further, there should be a certificate of finality from the issuing court. The applicant will also need to provide evidence that the judgment was issued in accordance with the laws and procedural requirements of the foreign jurisdiction (eg, the defendant was properly summoned in accordance with the laws of the country of the issuing court).
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?
The execution of foreign judgments in Qatar is subject to the satisfaction of objective criteria as set out in the Civil Procedure Code. Articles 379 and 380 of the Civil Procedures Code provide that the court may not execute a foreign judgment unless the following requirements are met:
- The judgment must be issued by a court of competent jurisdiction pursuant to the rules of international jurisdiction of the country in which the judgment was issued, and the subject matter of the judgment cannot be regarding a matter which the Qatari courts consider to be exclusively within their jurisdiction.
- The party against which the judgment is to be enforced must have been properly served, summoned and duly represented in the proceedings in the foreign jurisdiction.
- The judgment must be final in accordance with the laws of the country where it was rendered.
- The judgment cannot conflict with a judgment that has been issued by a Qatari court.
- The judgment cannot be contrary to Qatari public policy or ethics.
Generally speaking, foreign judgments issued by competent courts in foreign jurisdictions will be enforceable in Qatar without a re-trial or examination of the merits of the underlying case. However, the Execution Court may scrutinise the underlying subject matter of the dispute to ensure that the judgment does not violate public policy or morals (eg, a judgment for a gambling debt would be unenforceable). Ultimately, it is highly difficult to enforce foreign judgments in Qatar, even where the criteria of Article 380 have been satisfied.
What is the limitation period for enforcement of a foreign judgment?
In 2004 Qatar enacted the Civil Code (Law 22/2004) which, in addition to its applicability in respect of limitation of time and territorial jurisdiction, provides important definitions for terms such as ‘natural’ and ‘judicial’ persons and principles such as legal capacity to sue and be sued. It provides guidelines for the establishment of contractual relations and obligations arising from them. It specifies basic elements of a contract such as consent, subject matter and the purpose of contracting. It also deals with the annulment, construction and binding nature, effect and cancellation of contracts.
Significantly, the Civil Code contains various time limits. Generally, claims are prescribed (time barred) 15 years (403) after the right arises, unless a specific provision in the law states otherwise. This limitation period applies to actions for the enforcement of foreign judgments in Qatar.
These limitation periods may be triggered either at the time the cause of actions arises or after the termination or expiry of a contract.
Grounds for refusal
On what grounds can recognition and enforcement be refused?
Article 382 of the Civil Procedure Code requires that the judgment be issued in accordance with the laws and procedures of the relevant foreign country, including:
- adhering to the requirements for service of process;
- observing any applicable limitation periods; and
- ensuring that the court is indeed competent to issue its decision.
The party seeking to resist enforcement may challenge the judgment on any of these grounds.
Further, if a foreign judgment fails to satisfy one or more criteria set out in Article 380 of the Civil Procedure Code, such deficiencies could also result in a refusal to enforce the judgment (eg, the foreign judgment is still subject to appeal in the foreign jurisdiction).
Service of process
To what extent does the enforcing court review the service of process in the original foreign proceedings?
Generally, the Execution Court will assume that a foreign judgment is issued in accordance with the laws and procedures of the relevant foreign country. However, if it is alleged that service of process was not effected properly, or some other procedural challenge affecting service is raised, the Execution Court could open the matter to review.
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?
As an Islamic country, certain activities are not permitted and such prohibitions have been adopted in various pieces of legislation. The Qatari courts will consider the underlying subject matter of the judgment before proceeding with enforcement of a foreign judgment. Generally, any foreign judgments whose subject matter violates basic principles of Qatar law will be unenforceable. To date, no specific or notable case law exists in this regard.
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?
In accordance with Article 380 of the Civil Procedure Code, in order for a foreign judgment to be enforceable, it must have been issued by a court of competent jurisdiction pursuant to the rules of international jurisdiction of the country in which the judgment was issued.
Additionally, the underlying dispute must not have been subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Qatari courts.
A Qatari court will not venture into examining whether the foreign court had proper jurisdiction. If the relevant judgment has attained finality (in that it has run through the appeal stages or the time for appeal has lapsed), then the question of the foreign court’s personal and subject-matter jurisdiction will also have been decided.
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?
If there are concurrent proceedings for recognition and enforcement of a foreign judgment in a foreign jurisdiction, they will not affect the proceedings for recognition and enforcement in Qatar. However, if a foreign proceeding has been finally decided and the judgment has been enforced, the decision and enforcement will not affect recognition of the foreign judgment in Qatar, but it will make the foreign judgment unenforceable. If there are concurrent proceedings within Qatar, the proceedings will be joined together.
The procedure for the enforcement of conflicting foreign judgments is not specifically addressed in the law. However, each party should be able to seek recognition of each foreign judgment, provided that the judgments meet the criteria set out in the Civil Procedure Code.
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