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Qatari Supreme Court overturns decision to set aside a foreign award not in the name of the Emir

The Qatari Supreme Court has, in a recent decision, overturned a controversial judgment of the Doha Court of Appeal which set aside an international arbitration award on the ground that the award violated Qatari public policy because it had not been made in the name of the Emir of Qatar.

The Supreme Court decision overturned the Court of Appeal decision on the basis that the New York Convention does not stipulate any particular form for an award.

Background to the case

The claimant, the losing party in the ICC arbitration seated in Paris, successfully applied to the Qatari Court of First Instance to annul the award in Qatar.1 The claimant's application relied on: (a) Article 69 of the Civil and Commercial Procedural Code (Law 13 of 1990) (the CCPC) which states that "judgments shall be delivered in the name of His Royal Highness, Emir of the State of Qatar"; and (b) an earlier judgment of the Qatar Court of Cassation in 2012 which set aside a domestic arbitration award on the basis that it had not been made in the name of the Emir of Qatar and that this constituted a violation of public policy.

Comment

The Qatari Supreme Court decision, like the 2012 case of Macsteel International v Airmech (Dubai) LLC in the UAE, has been welcomed as a positive indication that the New York Convention regime will be applied to the recognition and enforcement of foreign awards going forward. Uncertainty remains, however, in relation to the recognition and enforcement of domestic awards in Qatar where such awards are not issued in the name of the Emir of Qatar. It is expected that Qatar will, in the near future, further improve its credentials as an "arbitration friendly" jurisdiction by bringing into force a new Qatar arbitration law that is based on the UNCITRAL Model Law.

Footnotes

1. Decision 2216/2013.