Qatar has an established and independent judiciary. It is divided into three court systems: the secular system which handles civil, commercial, and criminal laws; the Sharia’a system which handles Islamic marriage, divorce, child support, succession and some criminal law issues; and the Qatar Financial Center legal system which handles commercial cases arising out of Qatar’s special economic zone.
Litigation in Qatar is generally divided into three stages: a case is filed in the courts of first instance, the courts of appeal review the decisions from the lower courts, and a court of cassation provides final review in all cases. Civil trials are based on written pleading and rebuttals. Criminal trials are based mostly on oral arguments. Proceedings in all courts are conducted in Arabic. Translators are provided for non-Arabic speaking litigants.
Criminal offenses are punished according to Qatari laws, which in some cases mandate penalties more severe than in the U.S. for similar offenses. Persons violating Qatari laws may be arrested, imprisoned, deported, or subject to a ban from departing Qatar. Travel bans are not lifted until both parties resolve a dispute and the case is abandoned or, if not, until the matter is resolved by a court.
Local Attorney List
The U.S. Embassy maintains a list of local attorneys (PDF 235K) in Qatar. We assume no responsibility for the professional ability or reputation of the attorneys whose names appear on the list provided.
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