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The Court


The Qatar International Court is a world-class civil and commercial court. It applies international best practices in dispute resolution and brings together renowned and experienced judges from around the world. The state-of-the-art courtroom features highly sophisticated technologies. The courtroom utilises virtual technology to facilitate access to justice without the need for litigants to physically appear before the Court at hearings and trials. The Court is serviced by a Registry team, headed by the Registrar, which oversees case management. The Registrar and his team of expert case managers and support staff are available to assist Court-users, who have queries when it comes to commencing a case, or those who are seeking assistance on the practices and procedures to be adopted before the Court.

The jurisdiction of the First Instance Circuit of the Court is to be found primarily in Article 8(3)(c) of the QFC Law (as amended), which provides that the Court has jurisdiction to hear the following types of cases:

  • c/1- Civil and commercial disputes arising from transactions, contracts, arrangements or incidences taking place in or from the QFC between the entities established therein.
  • c/2- Civil and commercial disputes arising between the QFC authorities or institutions and the entities established therein
  • c/3- Civil and commercial disputes arising between entities established in the QFC and contractors therewith and employees thereof, unless the parties agree otherwise.
  • c/4- Civil and commercial disputes arising from transactions, contracts or arrangements taking place between entities established within the QFC and residents of the State, or entities established in the State but outside The QFC, unless the parties agree otherwise.
  • c/5 Civil and commercial disputes related to other entities, which are assigned to it by law.

In addition to the above, Article 44 of Law No 15 of 2021 (amending Law No 34 of 2005 relating to the Qatar Free Zones) gives the Court jurisdiction to determine disputes relating to the Qatar Free Zones in a fashion similar to the provisions of the QFC Law set out above.

Insofar as the Court’s jurisdiction over arbitration is concerned, Law No 2 of 2017 issuing the Arbitration Law in Civil and Commercial Matters provides parties with an option to agree on the “Competent Court” of the arbitration, which is defined in Article 1 as,

“The Civil and Commercial Arbitral Disputes Circuit in the Court of Appeals, or the First Instance Circuit of the Civil and Commercial Court of the Qatar Financial Centre pursuant to the agreement of the Parties.”

Accordingly, if parties wish to elect the Court as the Competent Court of an arbitration seated in Qatar, they must agree to do so.


The Rt. Hon. The Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd


Lord Thomas has been President of the Qatar International Court since 2018.

Lord Thomas was called to the Bar of England and Wales in 1969, becoming a Queen’s Counsel in 1984. In 1996, he was appointed a High Court Judge and was assigned to the Queen’s Bench Division, serving on the Commercial Court. In 2003, he became a Lord Justice of Appeal and was appointed to the Privy Council. He served as the Senior Presiding Judge from 2003 to 2006. 

In 2008, he was appointed Vice President of the Queen’s Bench Division and Deputy Head of Criminal Justice. In 2011, he became President of the Queen’s Bench Division. Thereafter, in 2013, he succeeded Lord Judge as Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales. He retired from that post in 2017, prior to taking up the present position in Qatar where he succeeded Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers. 

Lord Thomas holds several extra-judicial posts, including as Honorary Fellow of Trinity Hall, Cambridge and Fellow of the Universities of Cardiff, Aberystwyth, Swansea and Bangor and Honorary Doctor of Law of the Universities of South Wales, the West of England, Wales and of Cardiff Metropolitan University. He is a Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales.

In 2016, he formed the Standing International Forum of Commercial Courts. He was appointed Chairman of the Financial Markets Law Committee in November 2017. He has been Chancellor of Aberystwyth University since January 2018.

Ali Malek KC


Ali Malek KC has been a judge of the Qatar International Court since 2019.

He is recognised as one of the leading silks at the Commercial Bar of England and Wales. He is ranked in six different practice areas in both the Chambers & Partners guide, and the Legal 500. Ali has a wide and substantial practice with many of his cases having a strong international element. He has expertise in the field of international arbitration, banking and finance.

Ali, who is of British-Iranian heritage, was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1996, an Assistant Recorder in 1998, and a Recorder in 2000. He was appointed a Deputy High Court Judge in 2008 and is authorised to sit as a Deputy Judge at the Commercial Court of England and Wales. He also sits as an arbitrator in institutional and ad hoc commercial arbitration cases, including ICC, ICSID, LCIA and SIAC.

Dr. Muna Al-Marzouqi


Dr Muna Al-Marzouqi has been a judge of the QFC Regulatory Tribunal since 2021. She earned her LL.B. in Law with Order of Excellence from Qatar University. She holds an LL.M. from University of California Berkeley and an S.J.D from Tulane University in the field of maritime law. Dr. Muna has been an Assistant Professor at Qatar University College of Law since 2011, where she teaches maritime law and commercial law. Between 2018-2020, she was the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate studies at the College.

In 2020, she was appointed as an Associate Vice President for Academic Planning & Quality Assurance at Qatar University. She graduated from Qatar Leadership Centre in 2018. She is also a member of the Anti-doping Appeal Panel (Qatar Anti-doping committee) and a licensed lawyer before the Qatari Courts.

In 2017, she won the Georgetown University Fellowship Award. She received the Education Excellence Award (doctorate degree category) from the Amir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani in 2018. She was awarded the Excellence in Research Award from Qatar University College of Law in 2018.

Lord Hamilton


Lord Hamilton has been a judge of the Qatar International Court since 2015. Lord Hamilton was admitted to the Faculty of Advocates in 1968 and appointed Queens Counsel (QC) in 1982. He was an Advocate Depute, a Scottish prosecutor from 1982 until 1985, Chairman of the Medical Appeals Tribunals from 1988 to 1992, and President of the Pensions Appeal Tribunal in Scotland from 1992 to 1995. Over several months in 1992 to 1993, he acted as a temporary Sheriff Principal in the sheriffdom of Tayside, Central and Fife, due to the indisposition of the incumbent Sheriff Principal. 

From 1988 to 1995, he was a Judge of the Courts of Appeal of Jersey and Guernsey.

In 1995, Lord Hamilton was appointed a Senator of the College of Justice. Between 1997 and 2000, he was a full-time commercial judge dedicated to commercial business and responsible for oversight of that aspect of Court of Session business. In January 2002, he was appointed as a Judge of the Inner House of the Court of Session, where he sat principally on appellate business. In 2005, the Scottish Executive announced that he would succeed Lord Cullen as Lord Justice General and Lord President of the Court of Session, upon the latter's appointment to the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords. As Lord President and Lord Justice General, he was responsible for the supervision of these Courts and for the determination of policy and rules of court procedure. He also made appointments to some tribunals and made recommendations to The Queen for the appointment of Queen’s Counsel.

Professor Georges Affaki


Georges Affaki is a Professor of law at the University of Paris, France, admitted to practice before the Court of Appeal of Paris, a Chartered Arbitrator, and a member of the ICSID Panels of Arbitrators and Mediators. He has served as a member of the ICC International Court of Arbitration for two terms. 
Judge Affaki is a Governor of the UNIDROIT Foundation and a Council member of the ICC Institute. He led or participated in several law reforms in transition economies. He was appointed Foreign Trade Counselor of France by a Decree of the Prime Minister and was awarded the European Prize for Interdisciplinary Research. He holds trustee positions in a number of non-profit organisations and is actively engaged in community projects. 

Yongjian Zhang


Notwithstanding his retirement from the Bench in 2019, Judge Zhang remains one of the most senior, experienced, and respected Chinese judges. He specialises in civil and commercial disputes. Graduating from Renmin University of China (also known as the People’s University of China) with a PhD in Civil and Commercial law, he spent more than 40 years in the Chinese Judiciary before retiring as Senior Judge of First Ranking in the Supreme People’s Court of the People’s Republic of China (“SPC”) in January 2020.

Judge Zhang held various judicial positions across civil and commercial areas of law being appointed as a judge to the SPC in 2000, and as Chief Judge of the First Civil Division in 2012 (judge in charge of civil cases in China). In 2014, he was appointed as Chief Judge of the Second Civil Division of the SPC, where he was responsible for domestic commercial cases. From 2015 to 2019, he was Chief Judge of the Fourth Civil Division of SPC, which deals with international commercial disputes and disputes relating to Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.
Between 2013 and 2020, he was a member of the Adjudication Committee of the SPC which is the senior decision-making body within the Chinese courts supervising and guiding judicial operations.

As an expert in international commercial dispute resolution, Judge Zhang helped establish the China International Commercial Court serving as a Judge and Director.

Judge Zhang was a leading judge in judicial reform in China having been appointed in 2017 as Deputy Chief Judge of the First Circuit Court, the establishment of which was one of the fundamental structural reforms to the Chinese courts over the past 20 years.

He represented the Chinese judiciary in promoting judicial exchanges with other leading judiciaries including on the visit of Chinese Judges led by the Chief Justice to London in 2016, and the visit of the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales to China in April 2017. He led judges from China in establishing the first Expert Working Group on Commercial Dispute Resolution between the Chinese Judiciary and the UK Judiciary, which held meetings at a senior level in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

Since his retirement in 2020, Judge Zhang has served as an arbitrator of leading arbitral institutions in China, including the China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission, and the Shenzhen Court of International Arbitration. He was appointed as a member of International Commercial Expert Committee of the SPC in 2020 and serves as a part-time professor of international commercial law in the China University of Political Science and Law (CUPL).

In January 2023 he was appointed as an International Judge to the Singapore International Commercial Court (SICC). January 2023

Sir Bruce Robertson

New Zealand

Sir Bruce Robertson has been a judge of the Qatar International Court since 2013. He was appointed a Judge of the High Court in Auckland, New Zealand, in 1987, and was Executive Judge and a Judge of the Commercial List. He was a divisional member of the Court of Appeal from 1996 and was appointed a full-time member from 2005. He was President of the Law Commission from 2001-2005. Sir Bruce was formerly Acting Chief High Court Judge and Acting Chief Justice as the senior puisne Judge. He took early retirement in 2010 and continues to sit in various Pacific jurisdictions, holding a number of statutory and advisory roles.

He was Chairman to the Search and Search Warrants Committee, which published its final report in 1988. From 2001-2005, he was President of the New Zealand Law Commission. He has been involved in professional training and advocacy and was President of the Legal Research Foundation. He has held various community posts within New Zealand and has written extensively, particularly in criminal law and law reform. He is one of a few New Zealand members of the American Law Institute. In 1995, he was an Inns of Court Fellow in London and, in 1998, he was a Visitor at Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge.

Chelva Rajah SC


Chelva Rajah has been a judge of the Qatar International Court since 2011. He was President of the Law Society of Singapore from 1990-1992 and held the position of Judicial Commissioner of the High Court of Singapore from 1995-1997. He was appointed a Senior Counsel in 1998.

He is on the panel of Accredited Arbitrators at the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) and was appointed Chairman of Maxwell Chambers in 2008, a position he held until his appointment to the Board of SIAC in 2010. In 2011, he became the first Singapore appointed member of the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Arbitral Tribunal.

He is Senior Partner of the dispute resolution team at the law firm Tan Rajah and Cheah, based in Singapore, where he has developed a distinguished practice in both litigation and arbitration, particularly in substantial commercial disputes, property-related matters and insolvency. He was admitted to the Singapore Bar in 1972 and was called to the Bar of England and Wales by the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple.

Her Honour Frances Kirkham CBE


Frances Kirkham has been a judge of the Qatar International Court since 2013. Frances Kirkham was a senior circuit judge, the designated Technology & Construction Court (TCC) judge in Birmingham, England. The majority of work undertaken was in the High Court and was responsible for all TCC work that both initiated and transferred to Birmingham. Prior to this, she was partner at three national solicitors' practices in Birmingham. Between 2006 and 2011, she acted as Commissioner at the Judicial Appointments Commission, speaking at several meetings of the Irish, Franco-British Judicial Co-operation Committee. Frances spent a period at the Palais de Justice in Paris, where she observed the work of the French courts, specifically with regards to construction and engineering disputes.

Frances regularly acts as an arbitrator, adjudicator, and mediator, and completed her TCC judicial mediation training in 2010. She has worked as a deputy High Court judge in the Mercantile, Chancery and Administrative Courts, and has also undertaken general Queen’s Bench Division work. Frances has received numerous awards, including the Birmingham Law Society’s Lifetime Achievement Award and the Clare Edwards Memorial Award, recognising her extensive contribution to the practice of construction law. Notably, Frances was founder committee member and first secretary of the United Kingdom Association of Women Judges.

Fritz Brand

South Africa

Fritz Brand has been a judge of the Qatar International Court since 2019.

Immediately after receiving his LL.B in 1972, he was appointed as senior lecturer at the law faculty of the University of Stellenbosch, where he taught until the end of 1976. In 1977, he joined the Cape Bar where he practiced as an advocate until September 1992. During that period, he served on the Cape Bar Council for about ten years. In 1989, he received his letters patent as a senior counsel. In 1992, he was appointed as a judge of the High Court in Cape Town. After serving as an acting judge of appeal at the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein in 2000, he was appointed permanently to that court. In 2010, he was appointed as an acting judge to the Constitutional Court for two terms, retaining his permanent position on the Supreme Court of Appeal bench. Since his retirement from that Court in 2015, he has been appointed to the Appeal Court of Botswana and to the Supreme Court of Fiji - positions which he still holds.

George Arestis


George Arestis has been a judge of the Qatar International Court since 2015. He studied at the Law School of Athens University, graduating in 1968. He subsequently went to England and read Political Science at the University of Kent at Canterbury, graduating with a Master’s in Comparative Politics and Government.

After practising as a lawyer for ten years, he was appointed as a judge in 1982 and, in 2003, he attained the office of Judge of the Supreme Court of Cyprus. He has been Cyprus’ first judge at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, a position from which he served for a period of ten years. In 2013, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Law by the University of Kent.

George has given lectures on European Union law, mainly at universities in Cyprus, Greece, the UK, Germany, Belgium and Bulgaria.

With an interest in poetry, he has published a collection of poems “To Taxidi mou” (“My Journey”) (2009).  

Dr Hassan Al Sayed


Dr Hassan Al Sayed has been a judge of the Qatar International Court since 2010. Dr Hassan is an Associate Professor of Law at Qatar University’s College of Law. He was Dean of the College of Law from 2007-2010, having received his doctorate in Law in 2003 from the University of East Anglia in the UK. As Dean of the College of Law, he played an important role in the separation of the College of Law from the College of Sharia (Islamic Studies) and developed a new independent legal curriculum which incorporated English language at the College.

Dr. Al Sayed previously practiced as a lawyer in Qatar, specialising in constitutional law, administrative disputes and state contracts, and was formerly the Vice President of the Qatari Bar Association. He has been appointed to numerous committees, including the International Centre for Dialogue between Religions and the Bar Admission Committee. He has contributed to a weekly column in Qatar’s renowned Al-Sharq newspaper and has published articles and op-eds in several peer-reviewed journals.

Helen Mountfield KC


Helen Mountfield KC has been a judge of the Qatar International Court since 2019.

She was called to the Bar of England and Wales in 1991 and appointed Silk in 2010. She has a wide-ranging practice, particularly in the fields of Administrative and Public Law, Human Rights and Civil Liberties and Employment Law. She is particularly well-known for cases concerning discrimination and equality questions as they arise in public law, employment, commercial and other contexts. Helen is on the Equality & Human Rights Commission’s panel and sits as a Deputy High Court Judge in the Administrative Court, a civil and criminal Recorder, and on the Courts of Appeal of Jersey & Guernsey.  She is Principal of Mansfield College, Oxford.

Sir William Blair


Sir William Blair has been a judge of the Qatar International Court since 2017.

He graduated from the University of Oxford and practiced at the English Bar, where he specialised in the law of banking and finance. He became a Queen’s Counsel in 1994 and was Chairman of the Commercial Bar Association between 2003 and 2005. He was appointed a High Court Judge in England and Wales in 2008 and became President of the Board of Appeal of the European Supervisory Authorities in 2012. Sir William served as Chairman of the Qatar Financial Centre Regulatory Tribunal until March 2011 and was a judge in London’s Commercial Court between 2008 and 2017, becoming Judge in Charge of the Commercial Court in 2016. 

Sir William is a member of London’s Financial Markets Law Committee and chairs the Monetary Law Committee of the International Law Association (MOCOMILA). He is a Visiting Professor at the London School of Economics (LSE), Peking University (PKU) and East China University of Political Science and Law (ECUPL).

In 2016, the College of Law at Qatar University established the Sir William Blair Chair in Alternative Dispute Resolution. In 2017, Sir William was appointed Professor of Financial Law and Ethics at Queen Mary University of London, based at the Centre for Commercial Law Studies.

In August 2018, he was appointed Chair of the Bank of England’s new Enforcement Decision Making Committee.

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