Qatar Law No. 24 of 2015 regulating tenders and auctions was published in the Official Gazette Issue No. 19 and comes into effect on June 13, 2016. The drafters of the new legislation are aiming to overhaul the previous legislation. The new legislation consists of 38 articles unlike its previous counterpart, which consisted of 73 articles.
The new law aims to streamline and standardize the public procurement process by introducing clear guidelines to be implemented by each tender committee.
All ministries, governmental entities, public institutions and authorities remain subject to the Tenders and Auctions Law as well as entities who are wholly or partially funded by the government. The exceptions remain for the armed forces, Qatar Petroleum and Qatar Investment Authority.
A committee for regulating the tenders and auction procedures shall be established for each ministry and will consist of 5 to 7 members from governmental entities as well as representatives from the Ministry of Finance and Diwan Audit Bureau. Each committee will be tasked with implementing the provisions of the new legislation with the aim of preserving state funds and offering more transparency throughout the bidding process.
Other notable changes are:
- Exemptions for small to medium companies of the requirement to provide a provisional and final insurance as well as an advance payment guarantee, subject to a guarantee from Qatar Development Bank.
- Maximum monetary ceilings on public tenders will be removed.
- After announcement of a tender and submittal of biddings, the tender may not be converted to enduring practice or direct agreement.
- The State may terminate the contract if the contractor becomes bankrupt or insolvent, the company or contracting entity has expired, the death of the contractor or if the public interest so requires.
- The Ministry intends to launch a new website that advertises all government procurements tenders and public auctions taking place in the State of Qatar. Parties will also be able to submit tenders online as part of the State’s efforts to modernize and revamp the governmental contracting process.
- To ensure transparency, the new law will require a higher level of disclosure such as the requirement that all relevant government employees must declare any interest, whether directly or indirectly, in any governmental contract. Furthermore, the employee may not be a partner with any tenderer or bidder or an agent to, member of the board or an employee of any tenderer or bidder.
- There will be a dispute resolution committee headed by a judicial president of the Court of First Instance chosen by the Supreme Judiciary Council. The DR committee will have jurisdiction to hear administrative disputes arising prior to the conclusion of the contract. Decisions of the committee may be appealed before the administrative department in the Court of Appeal; however, enforcement of the decision cannot be stayed unless the relevant department decides otherwise.
The new legislation is a positive development at a time where Qatar continues to experience economic growth. The legislation decentralizes the procurement process by instituting tender committees in each ministry and allowing governmental entities to play a more involved role in the public procurement process.
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The Qatar International Court and Dispute Resolution Centre’s (the “QICDRC”) website describes the Qatar International Court (the “QIC”) as “a specialist civil and commercial court, erectile comprising some of the most talented members of the judiciary in the world from a range of common law and civil jurisdictions”.
Ever since its inception in 2009, physician there has been ambiguity in regards to the physical boundaries of, and how the issue of enforcement applies to, the QIC. The QIC’s Regulations and Procedural Rules address enforcement in Article 34, whereby Article 34.1 states the following:
“Any judgement or order of the Court is a judgement or order of the courts of Qatar and capable of enforcement and execution by the courts of Qatar as would be a judgement or order of any other Qatari court.”
In Case No 6 of 2016, a Qatar Financial Center registered company was a claimant in a QR 2,752,000 dishonoured cheque case. On 4 August 2016, the QFC First Instance Court, composed of the following panel; Justices Al Sayed, Kirkham and Robertson, issued a summary judgement in favour of the claimant.
Historically, judgements of the QIC were observed and there had not been a circumstance that rendered the need to seek enforcement. In this case, however, the Claimant filed an application to enforce the judgement in September of 2016.
Enforcement Judge Rashid Al Badr accepted the application and ordered to freeze (up to the judgement debt value) the bank accounts of the Defendant and direct the frozen sums, for the benefit of the Claimant, to the Court’s Trust Account.
Moreover, an order was addressed to the Qatar Central Bank, directing that all banks operating in the State of Qatar freeze and transfer available funds of the Defendant to the Court’s Trust Account accordingly.
This has had a momentous impact on the ambiguity of enforcement of the QIC. The provisions of Article 34 of the QIC’s Regulations and Procedural Rules have been put into practice and realized. Parties looking to resolve their disputes via the QIC can be assured that a QIC judgement is enforceable.