Qatar International Trade in Legal Services

Qatar International Trade in Legal Services

HOME COUNTRY LICENSING QUESTIONS

Is there legislation governing the legal sector

The Law on Lawyers, No. 23 of 2006.

Under what title do lawyers practise?

Qatari lawyers practise under a single title which may be translated as 'lawyer' or 'advocate'.

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

 

 

According to article 13 of Law no.23/2006, practising lawyers must be registered in the table of lawyers. In order to register a lawyer must: 1. Be a Qatari citizen, or a citizen from another member of the Gulf Cooperation Council with reciprocal rights and who meets the approval of the Commission; 2. Have a degree in law from a recognized university; 3. Be in possession of full civil capacity and be at least 21 years old; 4. Be of good character; 5. Not have been convicted of a crime or offence involving moral turpitude unless rehabilitated; 6. To have completed the required training.   Lawyers must enrol each year.

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

Qatari 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?

According to article 3 of Law no.23, only registered lawyers may practise the legal profession. The practice of law is defined as pleading before the courts and administrative tribunals, provision of legal opinions and drafting of contracts.

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

The practice of law before the courts in Qatar is reserved to Qatari nationals. 

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

A Qatari lawyer may either be self-employed or work in association with other lawyers in a civil company (Article 17)

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

Article 45- 60 of the Law on Lawyers, contains further high level requirements relating to advertising, conflicts, confidentiality, client money etc

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

According to article 12, law firms must be registered and each individual lawyer in the law firm must also be registered in the appropriate table in the register (ie. trainee lawyers, lawyers appearing before the Court of First Instance, lawyers appearing before the Court of Appeal, lawyers appearing before the Court of Cassation). There is also a table for non-practising lawyers.

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

The register of lawyers and law firms is maintained by the Ministry of Justice. Admission is determined by the Lawyers Acceptance Committee which is comprised of the Minister or his designate, representatives of the judiciary and of practising lawyers.

   

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?

Article 8 of the Law on Lawyers allows for a non-Qatari Lawyer who is licensed to practice law in his own country, to ask for permission to plead before the courts of Qatar in a particular case. Qatari law firms may also ask for permission to bring non-Qatari lawyers, to plead before the Court of Cassation.   Permission may be granted by the Minister on a proposal from the Lawyers Acceptance Committee and on condition that the non-Qatari lawyer must appear in conjunction  with a practising Qatari lawyer. 

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

Business visas are available but not required for citizens of GCC countries or of the UK.

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 who are working in registered international law firms in the jurisdiction of Qatar may be entered on the register. These lawyers are entitled to practise home, international and Qatari law, but not to appear in court except in the limited circumstances prescribed by article 8.

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

No residency requirement is mentioned in the legislation

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 must have three years of prior practice experience in his home country before he can be entered into the register of international lawyers.

Are foreign lawyers permitted to undertake arbitration and mediation? Foreign lawyers may undertake arbitration in Qatar either through the QFC or through the Qatar International Centre for Arbitration.

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

It is possible for a non- Qatari Lawyer who is licensed to practice law in his country, to ask for permission to plead before the courts of Qatar in a particular case. The right to appear will be determined by the Minister of Justice, in response to a proposal from the Lawyers Acceptance Committee, and must be done in conjunction with a practising Qatari lawyer.

Can foreign lawyers requalify as local lawyers?

Not unless they are nationals of another member state of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

FOREIGN LAW FIRMS

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

Foreign law firms may obtain licences to practise law in Qatar either: a) by establishing a firm in the jurisdiction of Qatar in accordance with the procedure set down in the Law of Lawyers, or b) by establishing under the auspices of the free zone provided by the Qatar Financial Centre.

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)

The QFC licensing process offers a one-stop licence procedure for foreign law firms.

Are there different types of foreign law firm 'licence'  (e.g. Joint Law Venture, stand alone foreign licence etc)

Foreign law firms as a rule obtain licences to operate from the QFC. Article 7 of the Law on Lawyers makes provision for the Minister of Justice to grant licences for global law firms with specialized expertise. These licences are granted for a five year period and have tended to be very limited in number.

Is there a quota on the number of licences available?

There is no quota on the number of law firms that may establish with the QFC but the licensing process includes a requirement to submit a business plan which will need to set out, inter alia, what value the foreign firm will bring to Qatar.

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

A foreign law firm operating on the basis of a licence from the QFC must ensure that all business it transacts in Qatar is conducted from its base in the QFC

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?

Licences issues by the Minister of Justice set out the terms under which firms practising in Qatar may operate, in general terms this restricts internatioinal firms from appearing in court but allows them to advise on Qatari law. Firms established in the QFC operate on the basis of more limited licences and may not advise on Qatari law.

Are there restrictions on the corporate form a foreign law firm can take? If the foreign law firm is registered in the QFC, it will need to take one of the approved forms for non-regulated businesses, which include LLPs, LLCs and company structures.  A foreign law firm operating in Qatar more generally may be a branch or a subsidiary office.
Are there rules about the name a foreign law firm can take? There are no restrictions
What entity grants a 'license' to a foreign law firm? If that entity is on the Internet, please provide the URL The ministry of justice:  www.moj.gov.qa  or the QFC: www.qfc.com.qa
   

EMPLOYMENT AND PARTNERSHIP

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

Firms may be 100% foreign owned whether established in the QFC or in the jurisdiction of Qatar.

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

Foreign law firms may not employ Qatari lawyers as they may only work for lawyers who are also on the lawyers' register. Although foreign law firms are registered, individual lawyers are not.

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

Foreign lawyers may not form partnerships with Qatari lawyers because such partnerships can only be formed between lawyers on the register.

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

Local lawyers could employ non-nationals to work with them

   

OTHER USEFUL LINKS/SOURCES

Other useful sources or comments or links

www.moj.gov.qa