Enforcement of Judgments 2022

Last Updated August 02, 2022

Qatar

Law and Practice

Authors



Al-Ansari & Associates is a nationally established legal practice, recognised amongst many as a market leader. The firm has expertise in core practice areas including litigation; corporate; business law; regulatory and compliance; banking and finance; construction; technology; media and telecommunications; sports; energy (including renewable); and environmental. Al-Ansari & Associates aims to lead the legal practice in the Qatar market by incorporating international best practices and covering a wide range of sectors. The firm has had extensive experience advising corporations, banks, NGOs and governmental and semi-governmental companies and organisations on local and cross-border work in the region, including advising on many of Qatar’s major, high-profile and complex transactions. The firm is proud of its lawyers and the depth of expertise that they share between them. As a local law firm with special expertise in Qatari law, the firm is able to deliver local legal advice at an international standard.

According to the Constitution of the State of Qatar, all private properties are protected by law; therefore, identification of private assets can be made by obtaining a court order (either by virtue of a judgment or interim injunction order) whereby the court instructs the relevant authorities in Qatar to disclose the nature of assets owned by, or belonging to, another party.

Without a court order, the information publicly available regarding the asset position of another party is limited to real estate and commercial registration records.

In addition to the above, the authors have seen an increasing engagement of asset-tracing companies, which may be used to identify assets during legal proceedings or before they are initiated. Currently, the role of these asset-tracing companies is largely limited to tracing assets located in foreign jurisdictions.

Qatari courts provide a range of interim judgments. The main types of interim and injunctive relief are travel bans and attachment orders. Without an enforcement order, these interim measures are uncommon.

There are also different types of judgments issued by the domestic courts in Qatar, including judgments in absentia, preliminary judgments or first-instance judgments, and final judgments. The courts also issue the following:

  • non-conclusive judgments – where a judicial guard or expert is appointed;
  • establishing judgments – which establish a legal protection creating a right that did not exist prior to the judgment being issued; and
  • declaratory judgments – where a right may be acknowledged, or a change made to disputed rights, without any specific action being required of the defendant.

The enforcement process of final judgments is commenced before the Enforcement Court, which is the only forum where enforcement may be commenced in Qatar.

The Enforcement Court is entitled by law to commence proceedings and correspond with the relevant authorities in the State of Qatar in order to seek disclosure by such authorities to the court of the assets owned by the respondent. The Enforcement Court further corresponds as required with:

  • the Qatar Central Bank to freeze bank account(s);
  • the Ministry of Interior to impose travel bans and prevent a respondent from travelling abroad, and to block a respondent from using motor vehicles and cars owned by them until the enforcement processes are finalised; and
  • the Qatari Financial Market Authority to freeze any bonds or shares owned by a respondent on the stock exchange.

The typical fees imposed when enforcing a domestic judgment or order depend upon the value of the judgment, if such value is known. If the value is unknown, the fee is estimated, but may not be less than QAR50 and may not exceed QAR1,000.

The time taken to enforce a domestic judgment also varies from case to case depending upon the availability of the defendant’s assets; however, it usually takes up to five months for the enforcement process to be completed.

To determine a defendant’s assets, once the enforcement petition is filed and the deed of execution is announced, an application should be filed with the Enforcement Court, who then directly corresponds with all concerned authorities (ie, the Qatar Central Bank, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Traffic Department and Qatari Financial Market Authority) within the country to carry out the enforcement.

The defendant may file a petition against the orders issued. Such a petition may be successful if the defendant deposits the ordered amount in the court's treasury, provides a satisfactory guarantee to the court, or where there is a valid reason for the cancellation of the order.

A successful claimant entitled to immediate payment may seek attachments of movables or debts belonging to the debtor, even if those debts are not due or are conditional.

Challenges to the enforcement of a domestic judgment can only be placed before the Enforcement Court if such challenge concerns the enforcement order itself. Any objections or appeals regarding the actual judgement and the subject of the enforcement must be submitted to the relevant court, ie, the Court of Appeal or the Court of Cessation.

All judgments and orders are self-executing and enforceable immediately. A plea may be filed with the Court of Appeal through the default procedures for filing a lawsuit. In such cases, parties shall be summoned to appear before the court within three days. Additionally, it is important to note that such a plea may be brought before the court independent of the subject matter under examination in the case.

If the Court of Appeal believes that the judgment in question invites the possibility of being revoked, or that its execution would cause irreparable damage, it may grant a stay of the immediate self-execution. In such a case, it may order the payment of bail or other measures it deems necessary to protect the judgment applicant's legal rights.

There are judgments that cannot be enforced because the legal period within which to appeal has not passed, the judgment has not achieved the executive/enforcement form, or possibly due to the nature of the judgment itself. This could be the case, for instance, with non-conclusive judgments, which do not resolve a dispute on subject matter and are only related to the proceedings of the case and its procedures, or aim to preserve the rights of the parties until the issue of the case is decided upon, such as through questioning of the parties on the case matter by the court, appointment of an expert or the suspension of a case until a final decision is issued in related criminal proceedings.

Further, another judgment that cannot be subject to enforcement is a declaratory judgment, where a disputed right is acknowledged or altered without requiring the defendant to take a specific action.

There is a register of judgments which contains a file for each matter, in which all documents relevant to the application will be filed. At the top of each file, a summary of the application (including the type of deed of execution, the date thereof, the issuing authority, the names of the execution parties and their addresses) is documented.

The judgment debtor can file a request to the court showing they have settled the amounts due, and all measures will be lifted and the case closed.

The recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments in Qatar without retrial of the merits is governed by and subject to the criteria stated in Articles 379 and 380 of the Civil and Commercial Procedure Code (CCPC).

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” for the implementation of Qatari judgments and orders there. Therefore, if such an issue was raised before the court, the applicants must prove reciprocity in respect of the recognition and enforcement of the foreign judgment in Qatar. The Enforcement Court shall have the right to 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. 

The CCPC further sets out the issues that must be verified for the enforcement of the foreign judgment or order, with Article 380 providing that:

  • the courts of the State of Qatar are not solely competent to determine the dispute in which the judgment or order was issued, and the foreign court that issued the judgment or order was qualified in accordance with the rules of international jurisdiction established in its law;
  • the parties involved in the case in which the judgment was rendered had been summoned to appear and duly represented;
  • according to the court’s law that pronounced it, the judgment or order has the force of res judicata; and
  • the judgment or order does not conflict with a decision or order that a court in Qatar previously issued, and does not include anything that violates public order and public morals.

On the basis of these provisions, the court must be satisfied that the jurisdiction of the Qatari court to consider the dispute has not been held exclusively, and more over that the foreign court’s jurisdiction has been established according to its respective law. Further, the Qatari court will require evidence that the parties were summoned and properly represented, and that the judgment issued by the foreign court is in accordance with the law of the country in which it was issued. As a final point, the Qatari court will ensure that the foreign judgment does not conflict with a prior Qatari judgment or order, and that it is not in conflict with public orders and morals.

Qatar is also a signatory to international treaties between the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and Arab countries for enforcement of civil and commercial judgments. 

Approaches to enforcement of foreign judgments are treated the same, regardless of the different types of judgments. Consequently, when it comes to urgent interim foreign judgments, the process for enforcement may be abandoned by the litigant because of the time involved.

The Civil and Commercial Procedure Code will not permit foreign judgments that are deemed to violate the Qatari principles of public order and morality to be enforced. This could include, for example, judgments that contravene the principles of Sharia law – such as judgments pertaining to gambling, bribery or illicit relationships. 

Public order and morality also include family law matters for Muslims – for instance, where the foreign judgments pertain to inheritance matters which would differ from what would be granted under Sharia law.

Foreign judgments which fail to meet the requirements set out in the Civil and Commercial Procedure Code (as discussed earlier in 3. Foreign Judgments) will not be enforced in Qatar. This would include:

  • judgments issued where parties were not properly summoned or represented;
  • where the Qatari court was in fact the sole competent court to hear the dispute, subject of the judgment, or order issued, or where the foreign court was not qualified;
  • where the judgment or order does not have the force of res judicata; and
  • where such a judgment or order is contrary to a prior Qatari court judgment or order, or violates public order or morals. 

As a final point, it is also necessary to prove reciprocity in respect of the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments. 

The original foreign judgment (and any relevant official 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 official documents) must be certified by the Qatari embassy in the foreign country and the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and translated into Arabic before being submitted to the Enforcement Court.

In addition, applicants must evidence that the competent court in the relevant foreign jurisdiction would enforce Qatari court judgments, to demonstrate reciprocity in respect of enforcement of the foreign judgment as stipulated in Article 379 of the Civil and Commercial Procedure Code. Applicants must further satisfy the court that:

  • the parties were properly summoned and represented where the judgment was issued;
  • the Qatari court was not the sole competent court to hear the dispute, subject of the judgment, or order issued, and the foreign court was duly qualified;
  • the judgment or order has become final (res judicata effect) in the country where it was rendered; and
  • the judgment or order is not contrary to a prior Qatari court judgment or order, nor does it violate Qatari public order or morals. 

Once the foreign judgment has been recognised by the Qatari court, the fees for filing the enforcement case will generally be QAR1,000. Where the claimed amount is less than QAR500,000, the fees for filing the enforcement case will be less than QAR1,000, and will vary depending upon the value of the claim. The time taken to enforce a foreign judgment varies from case to case depending upon the availability of the defendant’s assets; however, it usually takes up to five months for the enforcement process to be completed.

Enforcement of a foreign judgment may be challenged on the grounds highlighted earlier in 3. Foreign Judgments in relation to Article 379 and 380 of the Civil and Commercial Procedure Code, namely by evidencing that:

  • there is no reciprocity in respect of enforcement of the foreign judgment and a Qatari judgment; or
  • the judgment or order is not final (res judicata effect) in the country where the judgment or order was issued; or
  • the parties in relation to which the judgment or order was issued were not properly summoned or represented; or
  • the Qatari court was the sole competent court to hear the dispute, subject of the judgment, or order, and the foreign court was not duly qualified; or
  • the judgment or order is contrary to a prior Qatari court judgment or order, or is contrary to Qatari public order or morals.

The Enforcement Court does not review the merits of foreign judgments.

If the requirements stipulated in the CCPC are not satisfied, the Enforcement Court will not grant the foreign judgment’s recognition and enforcement.

In the State of Qatar, arbitrations and enforcement proceedings regarding arbitral awards are subject to Law No 2 of 2017 promulgating the Arbitration Law in Civil and Commercial Matters (the “Arbitration Law”). This is modelled primarily on the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNICTRAL) (the “Model Law”), together with the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (the “New York Convention”), which Qatar acceded to on 30 December 2002, and which was ratified by Emiri Decree No 29 of 2003. It should also be noted that in 2010 Qatar ratified the Convention on the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes 1966 (the “ICSID Convention”).

The key legal issues pertaining to enforcement of a foreign arbitral award are the grounds that are set out in Article V of the New York Convention and reflected generally in Article 35 of the Arbitration Law, which provide that the Enforcement Court may refuse the enforcement of the arbitral award where:

  • any party to the arbitration agreement is proven to be incompetent or incapacitated at the time of the conclusion of the agreement or if the arbitration agreement is invalid;
  • the party seeking the annulment or contesting the arbitral award has not been duly notified of the appointment of the arbitrator or the arbitral proceedings, or was unable to present its defence for any reason beyond its control;
  • the award includes matters outside the scope of the arbitration agreement; or
  • the establishment of the tribunal did not adhere to the provisions of the law or the agreement of the parties, or if it was not agreed upon, or was in contradiction to the law of the place where the arbitration took place; or
  • the arbitral award is no longer binding on the parties or has been set aside, or if the enforcement of the award has been stayed by a foreign court in which the award was issued or in accordance with the law of that country.

The law also allows the competent Qatari court to annul an arbitration award, on its own motion, if the court finds that the subject matter of the dispute is not capable of being resolved by arbitration under Qatari laws, or if the arbitral award is in conflict with Qatar’s public policy.

Furthermore, Article 35 allows for an appeal from a decision refusing or enforcing an arbitral award. This should be brought before a competent court within 30 days from the date of the issuance of such a decision.

Based on a recent decision issued by the Qatar Court of Appeal, it is clear that challenges to arbitral awards can only be made based on the limited grounds outlined above, and no others.

An application that is filed by the contesting party is filed before the competent court where the winning party has submitted an application for recognition or enforcement of the arbitral award. Article 35 allows for an appeal from a decision refusing or enforcing an arbitral award, which should be brought before a competent court within 30 days from the date of the issuance of such a decision.

Qatari courts do not vary their approach for different types of arbitral awards.

Please see 4.1 Legal Issues concerning Enforcement of Arbitral Awards. There are specific circumstances in which the enforcement of an arbitral award can be challenged under Article 35 of the Arbitration Law.

The first step for enforcing an arbitral award is to submit an application for recognition of the award to the enforcement judge in the First Instance Court or the Civil and Commercial Court of the Qatar Financial Centre, if applicable pursuant to the agreement between the parties to the dispute. Such a request needs to be submitted in writing, with a translated copy of the arbitral award and the certificate proving that there is no annulment claim filed, in addition to the documents required by the court.

An application for enforcement of the arbitral award shall not be accepted until expiry of the time limit of 30 days set for submission of an application for setting aside the arbitral award.

Once the foreign arbitral award has been recognised by the Qatari court, the fees for filing the enforcement case will be QAR1,000. The time taken to enforce an arbitral award also varies from case to case depending upon the availability of the defendant’s assets; however, it usually takes up to five months for the enforcement process to be completed.

Please see 4.1 Legal Issues concerning Enforcement of Arbitral Awards.

Al Ansari & Associates

Al Asmakh Tower
20th Floor
Majlis Al Taawon St, West Bay
PO Box 24533
Doha
Qatar

+974 4491 3355

+974 4491 3356

info@alansarilaw.com www.alansarilaw.com
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Law and Practice

Authors



Al-Ansari & Associates is a nationally established legal practice, recognised amongst many as a market leader. The firm has expertise in core practice areas including litigation; corporate; business law; regulatory and compliance; banking and finance; construction; technology; media and telecommunications; sports; energy (including renewable); and environmental. Al-Ansari & Associates aims to lead the legal practice in the Qatar market by incorporating international best practices and covering a wide range of sectors. The firm has had extensive experience advising corporations, banks, NGOs and governmental and semi-governmental companies and organisations on local and cross-border work in the region, including advising on many of Qatar’s major, high-profile and complex transactions. The firm is proud of its lawyers and the depth of expertise that they share between them. As a local law firm with special expertise in Qatari law, the firm is able to deliver local legal advice at an international standard.

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