On 5 June 2017 Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt abruptly cut diplomatic relations with Qatar. Subsequently, bans where imposed on airway access, port usage, trade imports and exports, financial transactions, courier services, and travel.
On 9 July 2017 Qatar’s Attorney General Dr Ali Al Marri announced the inauguration of the Compensation Claims Committee (“Committee”) by His Excellency Qatar’s Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah Al Thani. The Committee is supported by legal departments of different State Ministries and Authorities and is mandated to receive grievances by investors who have been damaged by the ongoing crisis.
Once a grievance is registered with the Committee it will decide whether the grievance falls under domestic or international jurisdiction. Domestic claims will be mandated to Qatari courts whilst international claims will be directed to international courts. The following are the main highlights of the Committee’s current modus operandi:
- Any natural or legal person may submit a claim to the Committee by filling out a prepared form.
- The form includes basic information such as the name, nationality, number and address of the claimant or their legal representative as well as the subject of the compensation and supporting documents.
- The Committee accepts all types of claims regardless of the value of compensation sought.
- Once a claim is submitted, the Committee will process the information and documents and act as a representative for the claimant and will follow up with the claim.
- There is no estimated timeframe of how long the process will take or when the claimant can expect a response.
Where investors wish to take action independently instead, of or in addition to, filing a claim with the Committee, one steadfast route is filing for arbitration (or conciliation) under the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (“ICSID”) Convention. The ICSID is part of the World Bank and primarily deals with investor-State arbitration settlement. Article 25(1) of the Convention states: “The jurisdiction of the Centre shall extend to any legal dispute arising directly out of an investment between a Contracting State (or any constituent subdivision or agency of a Contracting State designated to the Centre by that State) and a national of another Contracting State.”
The four blockading nations are all signatories to the Convention, and so is Qatar.
As of 27 August 2016, there has been one concluded case against Saudi Arabia in relation to the construction of university facilities by a German claimant, two concluded cases against the UAE in respect of a port concession agreement and construction of a mosque by Italian claimants, and twenty two concluded cases against Egypt. There is also one pending case against the UAE by a Turkish claimant over a construction contract, and eight further pending cases against Egypt.
For Qatari investors and foreign investors with economic stake in Qatar who have been damaged by the Gulf crisis, there are existing, reliable and operational avenues of judicial remedy on both a domestic and international level.