Friday, May 30, 2014

Legal Updates

Extension of visa ban on construction workers and housekeepers

The Ministry of Manpower has by its directive dated 15 April 2014 extended the ban on hiring expatriate workers in construction and housekeeping jobs in the private sector. This ban will be effective from 4 May 2014. The ban was initially imposed in November 2013 for a period of six months.

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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Pitfalls of Buying Real Property in Oman From an Off-Site Plan

The issue with developing off-site plan real estate in Oman

Non-Omanis can purchase property in Integrated Tourism Complexes (“ITCs”) in Oman pursuant to the Law on Ownership of Real Estate within Integrated Tourist Complex by non-Omanis (promulgated by Royal Decree 12 of 2006, as amended) (the “Real Estate Law”). The ITCs formed pursuant to the Real Estate Law are: The Wave Muscat; Muscat Hills Golf and Country Club; Jebal Sifah; and Saraya Bandar Jissah.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Amendments to the Code of Corporate Governance

Corporate Governance is the method by which corporations are controlled, specifying how a corporation’s structure for decision-making is to be governed as well as setting out strategies for monitoring performance. Recently, the Capital Market Authority (“CMA”) in Oman circulated a draft Code of Corporate Governance (the “New Code”) which will, if approved, replace the existing Code of Corporate Governance issued by circular 1 of 2003 (together referred to as the “Codes”). Both the Codes set out that the provisions are obligatory on all public joint stock companies listed on the Muscat Stock Market and investment funds taking the form of public joint stock companies. The aim of the New Code, which is in line with the GCC Code of Corporate Governance, is to enhance and expand on the existing principles of corporate governance.

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Monday, May 19, 2014

Franchise Agreements: A Franchisor's Perspective

Under Omani law franchise relationships fall under the ambit of the Commercial Agencies Law (the “CAL”) promulgated by Royal Decree No. 26 of 1977 (as amended). This is because the CAL states that “every agreement to which a manufacturer or supplier outside the Sultanate entrusts to one merchant or more, a commercial company or more in the Sultanate, the sale or promotion, or distribution of goods and products, or provision of services whether as an agent, or representative, or broker of the principle producer or supplier, who has no legal existence in the Sultanate,” is bound by the CAL. It should be noted that franchise agreements can be made subject to a non-Omani law, if coupled with an arbitration clause.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Focus on Fraud

Anti-corruption compliance programmes for companies operating in the Sultanate of Oman

Bribery and corruption made for some high-profile arrests and headlines in the Sultanate in 2013/14 which has highlighted the need for companies operating in Oman to have and maintain fully robust anti-corruption compliance programmes. This is to satisfy the demands of regulatory authorities in Oman as well as foreign headquarters in complying with local and international laws - some which have extraterritorial effect.

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Monday, May 12, 2014

Legal Updates

Update on the US-Oman Free Trade Agreement (“FTA”) Transhipment Issue

The US Embassy recently circulated a ROP Customs circular clarifying the thorny issue of whether transshipment of US origin goods (meeting the 35% value added threshold) are eligible for a duty exemption under the US-Oman Free Trade Agreement (FTA). The Circular confirmed that such qualifying goods can be imported to Oman duty-free.

Under the FTA, Oman must give goods produced in the United States special duty rates as stipulated under this agreement (Article 2.3). The particular goods that are eligible for duty-free treatment or those subject to gradual elimination of duties over a 5-10 year period are detailed in Annex 2-B of the FTA. Oman must follow this provision unless the FTA provides an express exception. However, no exception in relation to goods arriving by land transportation is contained in the treaty. Further, the FTA states that where a US origin good is merely unloaded, reloaded and transported through another territory to the parties, it is still considered “imported directly” from the US and therefore eligible for the FTA duty rate (Articles 4.1 and 4.9).

Additionally, if customs officials decide to deny the FTA rate, they are required to issue a written decision containing the factual and the legal basis for denying the rate (Article 4.1, paragraph 3). If the ROP have a doubt as to the eligibility of goods for the FTA rate, the burden is on the ROP to prove the ineligibility. The FTA does not require certificates of origin; however, Article 4.10 expands on what custom officials do require.

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Thursday, May 8, 2014

Anti-Dumping Law: Oman Perspective

Dumping: Meaning?

The World Trade Organisation (“WTO”) has defined “dumping”, in the context of international trade, as a pricing strategy whereby manufacturers/producers export their products/produce to another country at a price lower than the price charged in their home market. It can be described as a form of price discrimination.

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Friday, May 2, 2014

The Role of Experts in Omani Courts

The Omani judicial system is inquisitorial in nature; judges have the ultimate authority to make inquiries and to investigate the facts and evidential documentation of the cases before them. At times, the court decides to appoint an expert to assist it in its decision-making process.

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