The Court celebrates its momentous anniversary during unprecedented times
The Qatar International Court and Dispute Resolution Centre is celebrating its 10-year anniversary. In the past decade, QICDRC has achieved a considerable reputation as a specialist international court at the heart of Qatar’s growing and thriving business environment.
Since its foundation in 2009, the Court has upheld international best practices within Qatar’s vibrant commercial environment, inspired by the idea of creating a unique model for the resolution of international civil and commercial disputes within the country’s judicial system. The Court has been under the leadership of three former Lord Chief Justices of England and Wales - Lord Woolf, Lord Phillips and, as its current President, Lord Thomas, who have each been supported by distinguished judges who come from a variety of civil and common law jurisdictions. In 2020, the Court and Tribunal have the most diverse representation to date with judges from Qatar, Kuwait, England and Wales, Scotland, Cyprus, South Africa, India, Singapore, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and the United States of America. The court’s judgments on commercial and financial issues are now reported and used worldwide.
QICDRC has played an instrumental role within the Qatar Financial Centre to attract foreign direct investment and continues to contribute to Qatar’s economic diversification plans. Over 1000 QFC-registered firms are now serviced by QICDRC, in order to resolve disputes between them and those they do business with.
Commenting on QICDRC’s 10-year anniversary, His Excellency Ali bin Ahmed Al-Kuwari, Minister of Commerce and Industry, emphasized the important role that the Court plays in promoting Qatar as a leading regional and global investment hub, noting that the directives of Qatar’s wise leadership to cement transparency, good governance and accountability based on the rule of law, contributed to bolster investor confidence in the national economy, especially following the establishment of the Qatar International Court, which worked on streamlining dispute resolution procedures by relying on a distinguished group of competent international judges with international experience.
H.E. added that “the Court has bolstered Qatar’s safe investment environment, providing the necessary guarantees to protect the rights of various parties in civil, commercial, financial and investment disputes, in accordance with the principles of justice, integrity and equality and in line with applicable laws in this regard.”
Remarking on QICDRC’s 10-year anniversary, Lord Thomas, President of QICDRC said: “The QIC has achieved a considerable reputation in both its commercial and regulatory work. It has given judgments on matters in disputes at the heart of international finance and commerce and judgments that reinforce the highest regulatory standards applied by the QFC. Its judgments are widely respected internationally and have therefore strengthened the position of Qatar as a leading international financial and business centre. It has been a privilege to work not only with judges of the highest international reputation but with the Chief Executive, Registrar and Staff of the Court who have done so much for the successful achievements of the QIC.”
As a result of the enactment of Law No 2 of 2017 issuing the Arbitration Law in Civil and Commercial Matters, the jurisdiction of the Court was significantly expanded. This law allows parties who seat their arbitrations in Qatar to elect the Court as the ‘Competent Court’ of the arbitration, fulfilling various supportive and supervisory functions as required.
The past 10 years have seen many milestones for the Court, with this year, for example, the launch of the Pro Bono Service to ensure that individuals with limited financial means, whose civil and commercial disputes, regulatory appeals or other legal issues that fall within the jurisdiction of the Court or QFC Regulatory Tribunal have access to justice. This is a particularly significant development during the COVID-19 pandemic, enabling access to legal assistance for individuals and companies that have faced unexpected legal disputes.
Another major milestone for QICDRC that has proven essential during the pandemic, was the launch of its state-of the-art eCourt case management system in February 2018. The eCourt system offers clients access to a fully remote court proceeding cycle – from filing a case to the issuance of a judgment. Through the use of this high-end technology, the Court held its first fully remote hearing in April 2020, allowing parties, witnesses, lawyers, judges, and court staff from a variety of different countries to contribute to efficient judicial proceedings in a safe and secure environment. The QICDRC has recently established a mediation service which affords parties the opportunity to resolve their disputes amicably, in a confidential setting, and without recourse to more formal dispute resolution methods, such as arbitration or litigation. The QICDRC has issued its own Mediation Rules and has assembled an expert panel of local and international mediators to assist parties reach a consensual outcome in respect of their disputes.
In 2019, the Court became an Associate Member of the International Consortium for Court Excellence (ICCE) having adopted the International Framework for Court Excellence (IFCE). The Court has not only invested in its judicial work, but has also focused on the development of the judicial sector in Qatar and beyond. It has, for example, founded the Qatar Law Forum, an international event that brings together key international legal figures to discuss topics concerning the rule of law.
The Court has also placed a strong emphasis on national, regional and international agreements to enhance knowledge sharing, legal education and training. QICDRC’s key local partnerships include the Ministry of Justice, the Qatar Sports Arbitration Foundation, the Ministry of Public Health, Qatar University, and Hamad Bin Khalifa University College of Law. Internationally, QICDRC has signed key agreements with the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, LexisNexis, Wolters Kluwer, the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, and the Supreme Court of Singapore.
Commenting on QICDRC’s 10-year anniversary, Faisal Al-Sahouti, CEO of QICDRC said: “As an integral part of the state-court-system, QICDRC’s contribution to the delivery of credible, fair and efficient justice in Qatar has been paramount. We have been met with unprecedented challenges this year, which tested our resilience, digital capabilities and adaptability. I am proud of our team for meeting these challenging times with an unwavering dedication to the delivery of justice, guided by the Court’s core values of Justice, Teamwork, Innovation, Integrity, and Service Excellence.”
The Court hosted a webinar during the yearly International Bar Association event to commemorate the 10-year anniversary on the 18 November 2020. An esteemed panel of judges and academics has discussed the rise of specialist international commercial courts and their impact on the resolution of international commercial disputes.
Following a fruitful and successful first decade, QICDRC is proudly looking forward to the next ten years of achievements, which will be marked by jurisdictional growth and the impactful delivery of fair and efficient justice that strongly supports Qatar National Vision 2030.