UK: Challenge Of Arbitration Awards Under Qatar Law

Last Updated: 13 July 2013
Article by Laura Warren

Arbitration is codified in Qatar's legislation within Law No (13) of 1990 the Civil and Commercial Code of Procedure (the Civil Procedure Code) at Articles 190 – 210. The provisions deal with various aspects of an arbitration, including the formalities required for a binding arbitration agreement, the appointment and dismissal of arbitrators, the right of a party to apply for a stay of court, the timing of issuance of an arbitration award, challenge of the award and arbitrator's costs.

This article sets out some of the more interesting provisions in the law as well as looking at options for challenging an award. Please note, the extracts of the articles set out below are taken from unofficial  English translations of the same.

Article 190 states "The agreement to arbitrate shall be verified in writing".

This means that any agreement to refer issues to arbitration must be in writing. Arguments in respect of this formality often arise where the agreement or contract containing an arbitration clause has not been property executed, where the arbitration provision is incorporated by reference or where the dispute resolution provision does not mention the word "arbitration".

Article 192 deals with stays of Qatar court proceedings and states:

"A condition of arbitration is that litigants waive their rights to have recourse to the court initially the competent jurisdiction to examine the dispute.
If a dispute arises in respect of the execution of a contact that includes arbitration, and one of its parties brings an action before the competent court, the other party may raise arbitration as an objection to the non-acceptance of the court action

Essentially, this means that where there is an arbitration clause in any agreement and a party to that agreement has, mistakenly or otherwise, commenced substantive proceedings in the court, the other party may seek a stay of the proceeding on the basis of the arbitration clause.

In practice, the courts will generally stay proceedings on a valid application pursuant to this provision.  It should be noted however, that such an application should be made at the first hearing, otherwise the right to object to the court hearing the dispute on the basis of an agreement to arbitrate is likely to be lost.

Article 197 states:

"The arbitrators shall arbitrate within the time set in the arbitration document unless the litigants agree on its extension. If the litigants have not imposed a term for the issuance of the arbitration award, the arbitrators shall issue an award within 3 months starting from the date of their appointment.
Where the arbitrators do not issue the award within the time stipulated in the arbitration document or during the time determined above or where they fail to do so for a coercive reason, any litigant may submit the issue to the court initially competent to examine the dispute in order to add a new period or to settle the dispute or to appoint other arbitrators...

The local court has very wide powers under this provision. Where an arbitration award has not been issued in accordance to the timing agreed by the parties, set out in the arbitration agreement or pursuant to the law the court is able to intervene to extend the period for rendering the arbitration award, settle the dispute or appoint another arbitral tribunal. 

In respect of execution of an award, Article 204 states:

"The award of the arbitrators shall not be executable unless by virtue of an order issued by the judge of the court where the original copy of the award was deposited, pursuant to the demand of the interested party.

The judge shall issue the writ of execution after inspecting the award and the arbitration document and after making sure that, nothing should prevent the execution thereof. The writ of execution shall be in an appendix to the original award arbitrament. The judge ordering the execution shall have the competent jurisdiction over all the matters related to the execution of the award."

Thus, the local courts are required to ratify any foreign or domestic arbitral award for the purpose of execution against assets. 

Challenge of an award may be by way of appeal or by application to set aside an award.

In respect of appeals, Article 205 of the Civil Procedure Code stipulates that leave for appeal is subject to the same rules as an appeal against a court decision, and as such, any appeal must be lodged at the competent Court of Appeal within 15 days from the date that the original copy of the arbitration award is deposited for ratification with the office clerk of the Court having jurisdiction over the dispute.

However,  the right of appeal as set out in Article 205 does not apply in two cases that is;

  1. where the award was made by arbitrators acting as "amiables compositeurs"; or
  2. where the right to appeal has been expressly waived.

An amiable compositeur can be described as an arbitrator who decides a dispute before him according to the applicable law and legal principles, though is nevertheless able to, and is authorised to, modify the effect of non-mandatory principles of law. Where an arbitrator or arbitrators have acted as amiables compositeurs as agreed by the parties, challenge of an award through the process of appeal is not applicable.

In respect of point (ii) parties often agree to waive their rights to appeal either expressly within the arbitration agreement/provision or by virtue of the institutional rules which they have agreed will govern any arbitration proceedings between them.

Article 34(6) of the 2012 Rules of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC Rules), for example, states:

"Every award shall be binding on the parties. By submitting the dispute to arbitration under these Rules, the parties undertake to carry out any Award without delay and shall be deemed to have waived their right to any form of recourse insofar as such waiver can validly be made."

Where the parties have agreed to the ICC Rules or other similar institutional rules to govern their arbitration, a party's principle recourse should be by way of application to set aside an arbitration award pursuant to Article 207 of the Civil Procedure Code.

Article 207 of the Civil Procedure Code states that any interested party may apply to have an arbitral award set aside if:

"(a) the award was rendered without an arbitration deed, or on the basis of an invalid deed, or if it became void by exceeding the time limit, or if the award exceeded the scope of the deed, or violated one of the rules of public policy or morals;
(b) the award contradicts sections 3, 4 or 5 of Article 190 [the subject matter of the arbitration and the right to arbitrate], or paragraph 1 of Article 193 [qualification and number of arbitrators];
(c) the award was made by arbitrators not appointed according to the law, or made by some of them without being authorised to do so in the absence of the others; and/ or
(d) there was a serious error in the award, or in the proceedings, which affected the award.

Procedural flaws may fall within the scope of grounds for setting aside an award, where such flaws are so serious as to affect the award. The intention is that such errors go to the validity or existence of the award.

In accordance with Article 208 of the Civil Procedure Code, the Court to which any application to set aside should be made is that which originally had jurisdiction over the dispute. Where such an application is made under Article 208, any associated enforcement proceedings may be stayed.

Article 209 of the Civil Procedure Code states that an application may be made to set aside the award wholly or in part. Please note unlike the appeal process above, no time limit is specified for the application to set aside the award. It is prudent however for the application to be made as soon as possible following the date that the arbitration award is deposited for ratification with the clerk of the Court.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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