Tuesday 10 March – Doha, Qatar: The Qatar International Court hosted a legal seminar on "Coronavirus and its impact on contractual obligations under Qatari law" as part of its programme to raise awareness on topical legal matters.
The seminar featured Counsellor Abdelraouf Elbekei, partner of Sharq Law Firm, who explained how the spread of the virus can impact contractual obligations of the parties in contracts conducted in the State of Qatar in accordance with Qatari laws. He explained that the impact of the Coronavirus may lead to the debtor being overburdened to fulfil his/her commitment under “exceptional circumstances” also known as “hardship” or it may lead to the impossibility of carrying out the obligation under “force majeure”. Elbekei also explained that it is impossible to implement contracts due to unforeseen events, known as “force majeure”, hence resulting in their annulment. He added that the party impacted by the “exceptional circumstances” is entitled under Qatari law to request amendments to the terms of the contract. Elbekei then discussed the conditions for implementing and applying each of the two theories on contracts in accordance to the provisions of the Qatari Civil Law. He concluded that the impact of the Coronavirus on contracts must be applied on a case-by-case basis, as the outbreak of the virus may not have any impact on the contract, or it may lead to overburdening the debtor in carrying out his/her commitment, or in some cases, it can make the contract impossible to comply with.
For his part, Counsellor William Cattan, partner Sultan Al-Abdullah law firm, highlighted examples of epidemics and pandemics across countries and their impact on contracts. He explained how some contracts may directly be affected by the outbreak of Coronavirus, such as those covering supply chain contract, construction work and employment, in which implementation is burdened due to the nature of the contracts.
The seminar was also broadcasted live to the public via the Court’s Twitter account @QICDRC.