Friday, February 5, 2016

Welcome to Sikander Siddiqui

We are pleased to announce that Sikander Siddiqui has joined the Banking and Finance Team as a Senior Associate.

Mr. Siddiqui specializes in conventional and Islamic finance products, structured finance, project acquisition finance, trade finance and debt capital markets. He has broad-based experience in the fields of equity investments, power projects, mergers and acquisitions (including group restructurings and de-mergers) and competition laws. Clients in the transportation industry also benefit from Mr. Siddiqui’s experience on various shipping and aircraft matters.

Prior to joining Curtis, Mr. Siddiqui served as the vice president of the legal department of Dubai Islamic Bank, the world’s first Islamic bank, and has also practised at top-tier banking & finance and corporate law firms in Pakistan. In Pakistan, he advised various banks and financial institutions and has worked on the issuance of multiple term finance certificates and sukuks.


Thursday, February 4, 2016

Legal Updates

Ministerial Decision 144/2015 Issued on 8/11/2015 Amending Ministerial Decision 86/2000 Regarding the Registrations of Drug Companies, their Products and the Pricing of these Products

Ministerial Decision (“MD”) 144/2015 from the Ministry of Health amends Article (11) of MD 86/2000 regarding the registration of drug companies, their products and the pricing of these products. Article (11) determines the profit margins that are levied on imported drugs and the percentages thereof which will go to the agent and the distributing pharmacy depending on the drug price. The drug price is determined by a technical committee; after that the profit margin is added as a percentage of this price.

Instead of a fixed profit margin of 70% where the agent’s share is 45% and the rest goes to the distributing pharmacy, MD 144/2015 sets the profit margin to 43% for drugs that cost less than OMR 20 to export, 39% for drugs that cost OMR 20 to OMR 50 to export, and 35% for drugs that cost more than OMR 50 to export. The agent’s profit margin in all these cases is fixed at 15% with the remainder going to the distributing pharmacy.


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Product Recall in Oman

General Overview of the Law

The main regulation that governs all forms of product recall in Oman is the Consumer Protection Law issued by Sultani Decree No. 66/2014 (the “Consumer Protection Law”). The Public Authority for Consumer Protection (“PACP”) is the relevant authoritative body that oversees and regulates the supplier’s activities.

Article 27 of the Consumer Protection Law requires that the Omani supplier (the “Supplier”) immediately informs the consumers who purchased the commodity or received the service and the “competent authorities” on the discovery of a defect, and immediately withdraws the commodity from the market.


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Agency Agreements Under the Laws of Oman

General Overview

Agency/distributorship agreements in Oman are governed by Law of Commercial Agencies promulgated by RD 26/77 and the amendments thereto (“CAL”) contained in RD 73/96, RD 66/2005, and RD 34/2014.

Article 1 of CAL defines a Commercial Agency as “any agreement whereby a manufacturer or supplier outside Oman assigns one or more merchants or commercial companies in Oman to sell, promote or distribute goods and products or supply services whether in his capacity as an agent, representative or intermediary for the product of the original supplier who has no legal presence in Oman, against a profit or commission.”


Omani companies intending to act as agents of a foreign principal must be established under Omani law and they must have in their objects the right to import, trade and undertake commercial agency business. Such companies must be based in Oman and the minimum shareholding of an Omani national in a company undertaking agency business in Oman remains at 51%, as per the CAL. The MOCI, as a matter of policy, has commenced also allowing Omani companies with foreign shareholding of up to 70% to be permitted to act as agents in Oman for a foreign principal.


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Offset Obligations Under the Oman Authority Of Partnership For Development

The Oman Authority of Partnership for Development (the “Authority”) was established by RD 9/2014 and is affiliated with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (“MOCI”). It was set up to ensure that offset obligations are applied to all large civilian and military procurement contracts with foreign companies and Omani companies where foreign content is involved. These offset obligations are applied through the Partnership for Development (“PFD”) program established by the Authority. Various other offset programs linked to large military procurement contracts have been applied successfully by other GCC member States for decades, including notably in the UAE and Saudi Arabia. They have also been used successfully by other countries including but not limited to Turkey, The Netherlands, Spain, Morocco and Indonesia.'

What is an Offset Obligation?

Offsets span a range of compensation arrangements required by a foreign government as a condition for the purchase of defence or civilian goods or services from a foreign supplier. The arrangements are usually wide ranging such as investments in local industries, local production requirements and various joint ventures. When countries spend a large part of their government budget buying defence equipment from foreign suppliers or awarding mega infrastructure projects, they demand that the suppliers enter into offset agreements in order to gain economic benefits from their expenditures.


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Choosing Your Arbitration Rules

As many readers would be aware, on 23 November 2015, Peter Wolrich, Partner, Curtis Paris, and Jean- Claude Najar, Counsel, Curtis Paris presented a publication titled “ICC International Arbitration Toolkit: How to run a cost-effective and time-efficient arbitration.”

The speakers are well qualified to speak on the publication, given their extensive involvement with the ICC. For those that were unable to attend, the publication provides practical tools and tips for making time-efficient, cost-effective decisions at key points in a dispute, from pre-arbitration through settlement considerations to the hearing itself.

One question from the audience was in relation to choosing the type of arbitration one might specify in a contract. As the panel explained, appointing bodies charge fees on different bases, and this may be a factor in any decision made. For example, the costs payable to arbitrators and the ICC in relation to arbitration in accordance with the ICC Arbitration Rules will be calculated primarily based upon the amount in dispute. On the other hand, the costs payable in relation to an arbitration in accordance with LCIA rules will be determined using hourly rates. Hence, it may ultimately be cheaper to have a complicated construction dispute decided via the ICC Arbitration Rules, whereas it may be cheaper to have a straightforward claim decided via the LCIA Arbitration Rules.


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

When An Employee Discloses Confidential Information or Makes False Disparaging Remarks About An Employer

This article provides a brief summary as to the basis upon which an employer can terminate an employee’s service in the event the employee commits a breach of confidentiality or makes disparaging remarks about the employer.

In short, and perhaps unsurprisingly, an employer can fire an employee for disclosing confidential
information or for making disparaging remarks about the employer in public.

In a recent Omani Court case, an employer had been notified by a third party about one of its employees who was heard making disparaging remarks about the company in a public place. Moreover, the third party also stated that they had overheard the employee misuse confidential information.


Friday, December 18, 2015

Terminating An Employment Contract For Gross Misconduct: An Employer's Practical Guide

Whilst Omani Courts are generally inclined to be highly protective of employees, a recent Appeal Court decision has re-affirmed the long-recognized position that an employer can terminate the employment of an employee who has committed acts considered by the Omani Labor Law to be acts of gross misconduct without having to pay damages (indeed, the Omani Labor Law provides that in the specified cases the company need not provide notice or pay end-of-service gratuity either). An act of gross misconduct can include, for example, using a false identity, intoxication or assault at the workplace, or continued absenteeism.

Pursuant to Article 40(9) of Royal Decree 35/2003 (as amended) (the “Labour Law”), an Employer is authorized to dismiss an Employee without prior notice should that Employee “commit a major violation of his duty agreed upon in his employment contract.” The law does not define what constitutes a “major violation” and Omani Courts have interpreted the definition in a wide manner.


Monday, December 14, 2015

Importation Of Food Into Oman – What You Need To Know

In order to avoid potential problems in the clearance of your merchandise, understanding Omani customs laws is very important. This article sets out the rules and regulations that are relevant for an importer of food products.

Importation of food products into Oman is governed by the Uniform Customs Law (“UCL”) of the Arab Gulf Cooperation Council (“AGCC”) issued by Sultani Decree No. 67 of 2003.

Oman has signed a free trade agreement with the United States and, therefore, imports of nearly all U.S. products are duty-free, provided the products are for consumption in Oman. The UCL imposes a five percent ad valorem duty on almost all products imported from non-GCC countries. However, live animals, fresh fruits and vegetables, seafood, grains, flours, tea, sugar, spices and seeds for planting are exempt from customs duty. Tobacco, pork, and alcohol products are assessed at 100% customs duty.

When a shipment reaches Oman, the importer on record (i.e., the owner, purchaser, or licensed customs broker designated by the owner, purchaser, or consignee) will file entry documents for the goods with the Directorate General of Customs (“Directorate”). Documents that are required to be submitted to the Directorate include:


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

What Does The EU's Proposed "Investment Court System" Mean For The Rest Of The World?

On 12 November 2015, the European Commission transmitted its proposal for an Investment Court System (“ICS”) that would replace the investor-State dispute settlement (“ISDS”) mechanisms in its future trade and investment agreements, starting with the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (“TTIP”) agreement being negotiated with the United States. Although the ICS proposal may, for now, be a matter between the EU and US, it constitutes a major reform initiative that should be of interest to other States and their investors.

What is the European Commission Proposing?

The current ISDS system provides for foreign investors to submit disputes concerning the host States’ treatment of their investments for resolution by international arbitration tribunals. These tribunals are established on an ad hoc basis, typically with each side appointing one arbitrator and the presiding arbitrator appointed by agreement or by an independent institution, such as the International Court of Justice. The decisions of the tribunals are binding, and are generally subject to very limited and decentralized appellate review.