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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)?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.