Qatar International Court and Dispute Resolution Centre
The Qatar International Court and Dispute Resolution Centre (‘QICDRC’) was established by Qatari laws in 2009 as part of a strategy to attract international business and financial services into Qatar. At the time, this was a humble vision. Then in 2010 Qatar emerged as victor and granted the right to host one of sporting’s greatest events, the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
In line with the national 2030 Vision and as a direct catalyst of being awarded the World Cup, Qatar has aggressively embarked on construction of numerous infrastructure projects estimated at more than US$300 billion. With any construction project it is the norm rather than the exception that disputes usually follow.
QICDRC intends to facilitate the resolution of disputes which relate to large scale construction projects using a simple adjudication scheme named Adjudication Rules (Q-Construct) (‘Rules’) to resolve, or even prevent, disputes that arise during construction. These Rules are prepared as a draft and may change before approval by QICDRC.
Scope of the Rules and Exclusions
Like arbitration, the proposed adjudication scheme requires the consent of the parties. However, unlike other adjudication laws or schemes from various jurisdictions which normally require a construction contract or construction works to agitate the adjudication process, the Rules do not place any restriction or limit as to the type of agreement that can be adjudicated. This opens the door to other disputes so long as the parties consent to adjudication, the dispute is one that may be adjudicated, and it does not offend Qatari law. There are no express exclusions as to the type of dispute or contract that can be adjudicated.
Adjudication Application, Response and Reply
A dispute may be referred to adjudication by the claimant at any time. The Adjudication Application is lodged electronically to QICDRC and must contain, inter alia, particulars of the dispute with supporting material which shall not amount to more than two (2) A4 lever arch files when printed. The contract, which the dispute relates to, is not counted towards this document limit. This feature in the Rules will certainly avoid ambushes, commonly inherent in adjudications in the United Kingdom, and limit submissions to the underlying issues in dispute.
Proof of service of the Adjudication Application and all materials upon the respondent must be attached. Once QICDRC receives a complete Adjudication Application the adjudication shall be deemed to have commenced (‘Commencement Date’).
Within three (3) days of the Commencement Date the respondent must advise QICDRC of its nomination of an adjudicator or whether the claimant’s nomination is agreed between the Parties.
Within fifteen (15) days of the Commencement Date, the respondent is to submit its Response electronically in no more than two (2) lever arch files when printed. Should the Respondent fail to provide a Response, it is not precluded from denying the claim in the adjudication, except its right to nominate or agree to adjudicators.
The claimant can apply to the adjudicator within five (5) days of receiving the Response for leave to submit a Reply outlining parts of the Response they wish to address. Should leave be given, the adjudicator will provide a time limit and give directions as to whether the respondent will be allowed to make a Further Response. The Reply and Further Response are limited to a maximum of one (1) lever arch file when printed.
The claimant must seek the adjudicators permission before any right of Reply to the Response may be made. The adjudicator may request further information from the parties, and it is expected that most determinations are made without a hearing.
Appointment and Removal of Adjudicators
If the adjudication agreement is silent on the number of adjudicators to be appointed, the panel shall be constituted by one adjudicator appointed by QICDRC. In the case of single member panels, if the parties do not agree on the nomination of an adjudicator, the adjudicator is unable or unwilling to act, or the nominated adjudicator does not confirm his or her appointment within two (2) days, then QICDRC shall make the appointment.
A party may apply to remove an adjudicator in certain circumstances or where the Court orders an adjudicator to be removed.
Jurisdiction, Duties and Conduct of the Adjudication
Jurisdiction only comes from the parties who have consented to submit their dispute for adjudication. If jurisdiction is disputed, an application may be made to the QICDRC.
The adjudicator must act impartially, independently and within the principles of natural justice. Failure to act impartially or independently will require the adjudicators’ resignation. Adjudicators must disclose any interest, financial or otherwise, relating to the parties or the dispute and must not appear in subsequent proceedings as arbitrator or witness without the parties’ written consent. However, adjudicators may act as adjudicator in subsequent adjudications between the parties.
Determination and Appeal
The adjudicator is to reach a decision within sixty (60) days failing which they forfeit their right to payment of their fees. An extension of time is possible if the parties agree or in exceptional circumstances granted by the QICDRC. An adjudicator can make declarations and monetary awards but cannot provide injunctive relief. A decision of the adjudicator must be complied within ten (10) days or as stated in the decision. Summary enforcement is available through the QICDRC after the expiry period.
If a party is unsatisfied with a decision, they may appeal in very limited circumstances such as a serious irregularity or breach of the law within ten (10) days or the decision becomes final. A party also has the option of referring the matter for final determination before an arbitral tribunal, if there is a valid arbitration clause or submission agreement, or a court.