Oman International Trade in Legal Services

Oman International Trade in Legal Services

HOME COUNTRY LICENSING QUESTIONS

Is there legislation governing the legal sector

Omani Law on Advocacy (Royal Decree no.108/1996)

Under what title do lawyers practise?

In Oman, lawyers practise under a single title which may be translated as ‘lawyer’.

How does an individual lawyer obtain a "licence" to practise law? How often must this be renewed?

 

 

 

 

According to article 2 of law no.108, a lawyer must be registered in order to practise the legal profession. In order to be registered, the individual must:  1. Hold Omani nationality;  2. Be at least 21 years old and have full legal capacity; 3. Hold a certificate in law or Islamic law from one of the recognized higher universities or colleges;  4. Be a person of good conduct and reputation and not have been convicted of a crime or disciplinary offence relating to dishonesty, or to have been removed from a prior job or profession for these reasons, unless he has been reinstated.  Lawyers who are entered into the list as trainees, must then complete two years of training, or one year if they possess a Masters or Doctorate in Law.  Once admitted as a full lawyer, there are different registers in which a lawyer maybe entered which indicate which courts he may practise before. Eligibility to appear before different levels of court generally depends on experience.

Does this entitle the holder to practise throughout the country? If the law license only permits one to practice on a sub-national level, please explain the jurisdictional limits

Omani lawyers are entitled to practise throughout the country

Are there certain activities that are "reserved" to those who are licensed to practise law in the jurisdiction?

The practice of law is reserved to those who are registered in the Register of Lawyers. The practice of law is defined as appearance before courts and judicial bodies, the provision of legal opinions and the drafting of contracts.

Do you need to hold local nationality to be eligible to practise law?

Article 12 of the Law on Advocacy reserves the title of lawyer law to Omani nationals.

What legal forms can lawyers work in? (e.g. self employment, partnership, limited liability partnership, multi-disciplinary partnership, incorporation)

According to article 42, a lawyer must practise from a 'respectable office'. Omani lawyers may either be self-employed or may work in association with other lawyers in a civil company. The name of the law firm must use the name of one of the current or past partners of the firm. 
 

What other ethical or regulatory requirements must a licensed lawyer comply with? 

Law no.108 contains further provisions on confidentiality, conflict and fees.
There is no separate code of conduct.

Do law firms need to receive a "license" (or permission/approval) to practice law?

Yes, they must also register in the table of practicing Lawyer to be able to practice Minister of Justice, and Islamic Affairs, includes the requirements and procedures needed to obtain a license
 

Which authority issues licences? Are there different authorities for individuals and firms? 

There is a committee on the entry of lawyers formed under the auspices of the Ministry of Justice. This committee is chaired by the under-secretary for legal affairs at the Ministry with a deputy chair who is Vice President of the Magistrates Court and includes three Omani lawyers chosen by the Minister for two year terms of office. 

   

INDIVIDUAL FOREIGN LAWYERS

Are there any explicit rules or restrictions other than visas on fly in fly out practice of law? Ie. Do you need to obtain a licence for temporary practice?

There are no explicit rules on temporary practice for lawyers.

Can a foreign lawyer obtain a visa to visit clients or to market but not to practice?

Business visitors may obtain a visa of up to 90 days for business negotiations but not for the direct
sale of services.

Can a foreign lawyer obtain a licence to establish and practise as a foreign legal consultant and what is the scope of this limited licence?

Foreign lawyers are licensed to practice in Oman by the Ministry of Justice. Foreign lawyers holding
professional cards may advise on Omani law and form professional companies with Omani lawyers.
 

Are there any conditions that must be fulfilled once a foreign lawyer has been granted a limited licence (e.g. residency requirement)

Residency is not compulsory 

Are there any conditions that must be fulfilled for a foreign lawyer to qualify for a limited licence? (e.g. prior practice)

A foreign lawyer who wishes to hold a professional card must have at least ten years of prior practice experience in his home country.

Are foreign lawyers permitted to undertake arbitration and mediation? There are no restrictions on the participation of foreign lawyers in arbitration and mediation proceedings.

Are foreign lawyers allowed to appear in court under any circumstances?

Lawyers from other Arab countries may plead jointly before the Omani courts with an Omani lawyer,
provided reciprocal conditions apply in the Arab lawyer's home jurisdiction and after gaining the permission of the President of the Court.
 

Can foreign lawyers requalify as local lawyers?

Requalification is not possible due to the nationality provision in the law

FOREIGN LAW FIRMS

Can a foreign law firm obtain a licence to open an office?

Foreign law firms may open offices in Oman. If they wish to practise law they must obtain a licence from the Ministry of Justice.

Even if a foreign law firm does not require a legal licence must they register in some form in order to set up an office? (e.g. with a ministry of company affairs etc)

Some of the foreign law firms present in Oman have established separate branch offices of their international firm alongside associate law offices. The former must fulfil the ordinary company registration procedures and is not able to practise law.
 
Are there different types of foreign law firm 'licence'  (e.g. Joint Law Venture, stand alone foreign licence etc)

The only licence available to foreign law firm to practise law is a partnership between Omanis and foreign lawyers.
 

Is there a quota on the number of licences available?

There is no quota on the number of licences available. 

Are there geographical restrictions on foreign firm licences or on the number of branches a foreign firm can have?

There are no restrictions on the number of licences or branches a foreign law firm may have jointly with Omani lawyers but individual licensed lawyers must designate their place of work in the register.

Are there "scope of practice" rules that apply directly to foreign law firms (as opposed to lawyers themselves)? (e.g. home, host, international law), if so, what are they? There are no restrictions on the scope of practice for a foreign law firm as licensing for activities is granted to individuals and both foreign and Omani lawyers may work together.
 
Are there restrictions on the corporate form a foreign law firm can take? Foreign law firms may establish under a range of structures depending on the services they wish to provide.
If they wish to provide any of the reserved legal services however they must do so through a joint partnership with an Omani registered lawyer.
Are there rules about the name a foreign law firm can take? A joint law firm established between Omani and Non-Omani lawyers must contain the name of an Omani partner.
 
What entity grants a 'license' to a foreign law firm? If that entity is on the Internet, please provide the URL

The licence is granted by the Lawyers Affairs Department of the Ministry of justice, which sets out clearly on its website the requirements for licensing.

   

EMPLOYMENT AND PARTNERSHIP

Are there restrictions on the ownership share of foreign lawyers in a law firm?

There must be at least one Omani partner in a law firm.

May a domestic lawyer be employed by a foreign lawyer or law firm?

Lawyers are not permitted by law no.108 to work for businesses or individuals, so a practising
lawyer would only be able to be employed in a registered law firm.

Can a domestic lawyer enter into partnership with a foreign lawyer?

According to article 5 of law no.108, foreign lawyers and Omani lawyers may establish a joint company.

Can a domestic lawyer or domestic law firm employ a foreign lawyer?

An Omani lawyer may employ a non-Omani, provided the latter has at least 10 years prior experience and is registered with the Ministry of Justice.
 

   

OTHER USEFUL LINKS/SOURCES

Other useful sources or comments or links

The Government of Oman e'portal - www.oman.om