For the first time since its establishment, the Qatar International Court (QIC) has successfully enforced a judgment through the Qatar Central Bank (QCB) without the need for local state-based court (Qatar Court) involvement. The judgment in Case No. 6 of 2016 awarded a payment of QR 2,752,000 to the Claimant based on an agreement with the Defendant in relation to a property transaction. In the case the Defendant had issued a cheque that the bank subsequently rejected on the basis of an incorrect signature. The QIC found in favour of the Claimant as evidence showed that the Defendant had acknowledged that the cheque had been rejected but failed to remedy the matter. Upon further non-compliance from the Defendant, the Court ordered the QCB to freeze the Defendant’s Qatar-based accounts in the amount of the judgment debt, and to have those funds transferred to the Court’s Trust Account.
The QIC is part of the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) judiciary, specialising in civil and commercial disputes involving QFC-registered companies. Procedurally, the QIC and the Qatar Courts have similar terms of enforcement. For example, Article 34 of the QIC Regulations and Procedural Rules (QIC Regulations) state that QIC decisions and orders have same weight as those issued by the Qatar Courts, and grants the QIC the authority to approach any competent authority in Qatar to enforce its judgements or orders. Similarly, Article 362 of Law No. 13 of 1990 (the civil procedure code for the Qatar Courts) provides that any Qatar authority is to assist in enforcement procedures as directed by the Qatar Courts.
Prior to this enforcement action there was some uncertainty regarding the QIC’s ability to independently enforce a judgment without the assistance of a Qatar Court. However, the enforcement of the QIC order by the QCB in Case No. 6 of 2016 unequivocally clarifies for the first time that the QIC’s jurisdiction applies without restriction in Qatar thereby lending legitimacy to Article 34 of the QIC Regulations. Additionally, Qatar’s new arbitration Law No. 2 of 2017 (Arbitration Law) identifies the QIC as a “competent court” and its enforcement judge as a “competent judge”. Taken together, the language of the Arbitration Law and the successful enforcement of the QIC’s order provide comfort to potential litigants that judgments and orders issued by the QIC will be recognised and enforced in the State without the need for intervention from the Qatar Courts.