President of the Investment and Trade Court Judge Khalid bin Ali al-Obaidly has underlined that the court, whose establishment law was issued last year, will be distinguished by flexible procedures for settling disputes that meet all modern international standards, protect rights, enhance transparency and equal opportunities, and contribute to the realisation of the Qatar National Vision 2030, foundations of which were laid by His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.
In an exclusive interview with Qatar News Agency, al-Obaidly said that the establishment of a court specialised in commercial dispute cases is an important step in the development of the judicial system of the State of Qatar, in line with the vision of the wise leadership to encourage all creative initiatives that contribute to the advancement of all sectors, including the economic and investment sectors in the country, which have witnessed great growth in recent years.
He added that the issuance of Law No 21 of 2021 establishing the Investment and Trade Court contributes to creating an attractive investment environment in Qatar, which has become a focus of interest to many investors. The establishment of this court keeps pace with the demand for the investment sector, reassuring investors and business owners wishing to invest in the country.
He added that the presence of a court specialised in investment and trade issues will have a significant impact on the national economy, as it will contribute to accelerating the pace of commercial dispute resolution and creating a healthy economic environment, in line with Qatar's plans to increase its exports and attract foreign investments.
Al-Obaidly explained that the court is competent to adjudicate disputes related to commercial contracts, disputes arising between merchants related to their business, disputes related to commercial papers, and disputes arising between partners or shareholders in commercial companies, such as: bank operations, disputes of finance and investment companies, maritime sales, electronic commerce transactions, transport contracts, supply contracts and orders, commercial mortgage, commercial agency, bankruptcy, intellectual property, business and industry contracting, building and construction contracting, insurance, commercial companies, service contracts, publishing and media disputes, and others.
Al-Obaidly said the court consists of primary and appeal departments, and its judges will be from the judges of the Court of Primary and the Court of Appeal chosen by the Supreme Judiciary Council; in addition to a department in the Court of Cassation that will be competent to consider appeals against judgments issued by the Court.
Regarding the cases filed in the Qatari courts before the issuance of the law establishing the Investment and Trade Court, he said that the court has jurisdiction to adjudicate cases and disputes that have become within its jurisdiction, which are filed before them starting the date of enforcement of this law.
He noted that the civil primary courts will continue to consider cases and disputes filed before them before this date; and the Court of Appeal and the appeal departments of the civil primary court will continue to consider appeals filed before them before the date of enforcement of this law.
On the mechanism of forming the department and the judicial work at the Investment and Trade Court, al-Obaidly indicated that each of the primary department is formed of three court judges, and each department is headed by its oldest members, adding that the council may delegate judges of the Court of Appeal to preside over one of the Courts primary departments for a period of one year, renewable for a similar period or periods. One or more primary departments, consisting of a single judge, may decide on cases and disputes related to investment and trade issues determined by the council, and whose value does not exceed QR10mn.
He added that each of the court's appeal departments is also formed of three judges from the Court of Appeal, and each department is headed by its oldest members. The council also delegates judges of the Court of Cassation to head one of the appeal departments of the court for a period of one year, renewable for a similar period or periods.
He noted that the president of the court chooses one or more judges from the court who is competent to rule on a temporary basis without prejudice to the right in urgent matters that fear the lapse of time, and the issuance of orders on temporary petitions, adding that the implementation of judgments issued by the court takes place under the supervision of one or more delegated judges, by a decision of the Council for a period of one year, renewable for another similar period or periods. The assignments of members in the departments is issued by a decision by the president of the court based on the proposal of the general assembly.
On the benefit of international and regional experiences in establishing the court, Judge Khalid bin Ali al-Obaidly referred in this regard to visits and training courses by some judges to Singapore Judicial College in 2019 and London Commercial Court in 2020, in addition to visiting a number of arbitration and mediation centres in Singapore and Britain.
With regard to providing the court with Qatari cadres specialised in the field of commercial judiciary, al-Obaidly praised the "Judges of Tomorrow" programme, established in co-operation between the Supreme Judiciary Council and the College of Law at Qatar University, which aims to attract to the Council outstanding students who meet the admission requirements for this programme by sponsoring them academically throughout the period of their study until graduation and joining them as assistant judges after their graduation.
He mentioned the conditions for joining the programme, which include that the student should be a Qatari citizen who has completed at least 40 hours and excels in his field of study with a grade point average of no less than 3, and to be of good character and conduct, and to pass the personal interview successfully. He added that the first batch has been selected, and applications will be open.
With regard to making use of modern technologies in the court's work to facilitate litigation and speed up cases, he indicated that there will be an electronic system that simulates the texts and articles of the law.
Regarding the Case Management Office and its members, he said that the idea of case management was the result of long and strenuous efforts that the international legal systems had gone through, and found reasons that affirm its necessity in every society, and Qatar was not far from developments and has always been interested in developing its legislation. He noted that Law No 21 of 2021 regarding the establishment of the Investment and Trade Court stipulates in Article (16) that "An office called "Case Management Office" shall be established in the court, consisting of a chief among its judges, and the membership of a sufficient number of judges, assistant judges, legal and administrative staff, to be chosen by the president of the court. The same article included the text that "the procedures and mechanisms of work in the case management office shall be determined by a decision of the Council."
Identifying case management, he said that it is the early control of the lawsuit by placing it under the supervision of a judge, assistant judge or legal researcher who monitors all its procedures, starting with its registration, by making sure that it includes all data or documents of the parties, ensuring the prescribed fee is paid, and ensuring the completion of announcements and giving the parties the opportunity to exchange notes, monitor their duration, then write a report, and refer it to the competent court. The idea is based on the distinction between the procedural function and the judicial function during the course of the case, where the case management office supervises the procedural tasks related to the case.
He defined the objectives and tasks of the case management, which include preparing the case file and verifying its contents so that the case would be ready for consideration before the court, by completing the parties data and ensuring the integrity of their representation, collecting evidence and documents and exchanging notes, which facilitates the task of the judge to decide on the case as soon as possible, and to present the resolution to the dispute on the parties by alternative means of litigation, such as settling the dispute through mediation in accordance with Law No 20 of 2021 regarding mediation in the settlement of civil and commercial disputes, which may lead to a reduction in the number of cases that reach the judge.
He added that among other goals and tasks is setting a timetable that explains the successive lawsuit procedures, and sets for each procedure a specific period during which this procedure is to be completed, in a way that gives a sense of reassurance to the parties to the lawsuit that their lawsuit will end within a time that facilitates to them the organization of their plans for their work.
The tasks also include creating the appropriate environment for investors to be assured of their capital, given that the litigation system and its procedures are always taken into consideration when they go to invest in a new area, in addition to enhancing confidence in the judiciary, as case management helps speed up litigation procedures, thus enabling people to reach their goal in a way that includes a reduction of time, effort and expense.
With regard to the case management process, he explained that the first step is to submit a request to open a case file, starting with its registration before the court, with the statement of claim attached to the form designated for that, after completing a number of data related to the names, addresses, phone numbers and e-mail of the parties to the case or whoever represents them, adding that if one of them is outside the country, his data must include his PO Box number in the country in which he resides. This data also includes an explanation of the lawsuit's subject matter, its reasons, arguments, and the defendant's requests, and a portfolio of documents supporting his claim, al-Obaidly said, pointing out that if the documents, or some of them, were written in a foreign language, an Arabic translation of them must be submitted.
The second step is the validation and completeness of data and documents, in which the Case Management Office makes sure that they are completed and include the parties' data, addresses and all documents necessary for the settlement of the case within a period of three days from the date of submitting the request. In case of incomplete data, the plaintiff or his representative shall be notified to complete them within a period of ten days from the date of the notification. If the plaintiff does not fulfil all the requirements within the deadline - ten days - the request is closed electronically, and after that he has no choice but to submit a new one.
In the third step, which is the classification and determination of course, al-Obaidly explained that if the plaintiff completes all required data and documents, and the request is one in which a task order may be issued, and if the plaintiff did not follow the course specified by the law to issue the task order, the matter is presented to the head of the office to issue his decision and refer it to one of the departments competent to issue those orders, after paying the prescribed fee electronically.
In the event that the plaintiff completes all required data and documents and the request is a lawsuit, the member of the office prepares a schedule for the exchange of memos and documents and authorises the applicant to pay the fee electronically, and then the request is automatically registered with a case number and the electronic system determines the department concerned with examining it.
Al-Obaidly pointed out that if the period authorised for paying the fee has passed without its implementation, the electronic system will automatically close the request, and the applicant will have no choice but to submit a new request.
Regarding the definition of the task order and its objectives, he said that it is a special course drawn up by the legislator to assert the specific right by writing and upon payment by a judicial order without the need to file a lawsuit.
The Judge identified four conditions for obtaining a payment order: it must be a debt of money, the amount and the condition of payment must be specified, and it must be established in writing.
Regarding the information that must be included in the request petition and the documents that must be attached to the petition, he said that this petition must include the name of the creditor or his agent and his national address, and the debtor's full name and national address, as well as the facts related to the request, in addition to a statement required in terms of origin, attachments and expenses, and determining a domicile for the creditor. As for the attached documents, they are the deed- such as a cheque, a bill of exchange, or an acknowledgment - and proof of the full payment.

As for issuing the order, he said that it is first done by restricting the payment order request on the electronic system of the court by the creditor or his representative or by the case management office if it appears that the request to open the case is one in which a performance order may be issued. Afterward, the performance order is issued electronically within three days at most from submitting the application, showing the amount to be paid, the attachments and expenses, so that the bond remains in the Registry of the Court of First Instance until the time for grievance has passed. The debtor shall then announce the order issued against him to pay on one of the national address data, and the petition and the order issued on it shall be considered as if it had not been notified to the debtor within three months from the date of the issuance of the order.
In response to a question on which of the judges have jurisdiction in the request for a performance order and what if the judge refuses to issue the order, the President of the Investment and Trade Court stressed that the jurisdiction in requesting a performance order rests within the first instance circuits formed by a single judge, in accordance with a decision issued by the president of the court to form circuits and distribute work in the court. These circuits has exclusive right to issue performance orders.
He explained that if the judge refuses to issue the order, he must, in accordance with Article 8 of the decision of the Supreme Judicial Council regarding the procedures and mechanisms of work in the case management office, return the request to the office to manage it, and accordingly the case management office collects the fees, documents and data necessary to settle the case and announce it to the defendant electronically at the national address.
As for whether it is permissible to appeal against the payment order, he said that the debtor may appeal against the order within thirty days, in accordance to Article 151 of the Civil and Commercial Procedures Law. The grievance is made by requesting the debtor to appear before the same specified circuit - issuing the order - at the Court of First Instance. In the summons, the conditions prescribed for the opening of the case are taken into account, he explained, adding that the grievance must be justified, otherwise it will be invalid, and the right to appeal against the order is forfeited if the debtor directly appeals against it.
Al-Obaidly said that the complainant is considered the prosecutor, and when examining the complaint, the rules and procedures followed before the Court of First Instance shall be taken into account. If the aggrieved party fails to appear in the first session to consider the complaint, the court shall rule on its own that the grievance was not submitted.
The provisions relating to expedited enforcement of the performance order and the judgment issued in the grievance shall apply to the performance order or the judgment. The appeal issued against him before the appellate circuits of the court, and the time for appeal in accordance with Article 11 of the Law establishing the Investment and Trade Court shall be fifteen days from the date of notifying the concerned parties.
The provisions relating to expedited enforcement shall apply to the payment order and to the judgment issued in the grievance thereof, according to the cases specified by the law. The performance order or the judgment issued in the grievance against it may also be appealed before the appellate circuits of the court, and the time for appeal in accordance with Article 11 of the Law establishing the Investment and Trade court shall be fifteen days from the date of notifying the concerned parties.
Concerning the process of requesting precautionary seizure in the event of submitting a request for a performance order, and how it is done, he said that if the creditor wants to seize what he owes to others, and in the cases in which the creditor may get an order from the judge for precautionary seizure, the seizure order is issued by the relevant department that issue the payment order, with an exception to the provisions of Articles (363), (401) and (446) of the Procedure Code.
Al-Obaidly explained that the creditor must, within the eight days following the signing of the seizure, submit a request for performance and the validity of the seizure procedures to the aforementioned department, provided that the paper notifying the seizure to the garnishee includes notifying him of the submission of this request, otherwise the seizure shall be considered as if it had not existed.
In the event of a grievance against the seizure order for a reason related to the origin of the right, he added that the order for payment shall not be issued, and the request shall be referred to the case management office to complete its procedures and then refer it to the relevant department in accordance with Article 8 of the decision of the Supreme Judicial Council regarding the procedures and mechanisms of work in the case management office. He noted that the creditor gets in the cases of seizure in the aforementioned manner a quarter of the fee when requesting the signature of seizure and the rest upon request for payment order and the validity of the seizure.
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