Saturday, October 30, 2010

Focus on Litigation: The Importance of Specifying Your Counter-Party’s Physical Address

Much of the disputes process is centered on the usual elements of litigation: cogent legal arguments, meticulous gathering of evidence, and navigation of complex procedural requirements. Yet even after many years of practicing law in Oman, we are often reminded of how the actual day-to-day progress of a matter can turn on the most mundane of details – for example, ascertaining the physical addresses of the parties.

With the great urgency often surrounding the litigation process, such as filing a case or an injunction application with the Omani Courts, one small detail that sometimes gets lost in the shuffle – namely, omission of the actual physical addresses of the parties to the dispute – can inject considerable delay into the overall process.

The Omani Courts now require very exact information about the physical address of each party to a case. (If the party is a company with multiple physical addresses, the physical address of the company’s head office must be specified; if the party is an individual with multiple residences, the physical address of the individual’s primary residence must be specified.) A high level of detail is often required. It is, perhaps strangely, not enough to state that company X’s head office is in building Y. The Courts require us to state the exact floor of the building, the building number, and the way/street number, together with any nearby landmarks. If these details are not provided, the court will not allow the case to move forward.

Accordingly, it is very important for parties to know the exact physical address details of the entities in Oman with whom they do business. When doing transactions, one often knows only the other party’s postal address (typically a P.O. box). In Omani litigation, however, it is the physical address information which is of paramount importance. Whilst we can often help in finding out a physical address, it is prudent for companies to ascertain such information right at the beginning of their commercial relationship with a counter-party.