By Matthew Walker and Leanie van de Merwe, K&L Gates, Doha
In Appeal No. 173/2016, the Qatar Court of Cassation considered an appeal against the Court of Appeal’s decision dismissing an application for the enforcement of an International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) award.
The Qatari Court of Cassation has clarified the position on enforcement of foreign arbitral awards in Qatar, by confirming that none of the domestic requirements relating to certification and authentication of foreign official documents apply to international awards, thanks to the New York Convention.
This judgment is a significant step in the right direction for arbitration in Qatar, especially where it concerns the hotly debated topic of enforcement of foreign awards. Qatar, which has a mixed legal system (Civil Law based on overriding principles of the Shari’a), does not recognise the principle of legal precedent in the same way as a common law jurisdiction does. Judges are generally not strictly bound by the decisions made in previous cases or by superior courts. However, whilst this judgment may not be strictly binding on the lower courts in Qatar, it may be considered as highly persuasive, and is therefore not a case that the lower courts should overlook lightly.
It remains to be seen whether the French courts will uphold or dismiss the appeal in the parallel proceedings to annul the award. Until then, the Court of Cassation’s judgment stands and provides considerable clarity on the requirements for enforcement of an ICC award in Qatar. (Appeal No. 173/2016).