Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Procedural Steps for Enforcing a Judgment in Oman

With regard to disputes, clients often focus on “winning” their cases, that is, successfully attaining a judgment from the court or the arbitrator, without having given much consideration as to enforcing an award and getting paid the amounts that a court or tribunal so orders.  Therefore, it is not uncommon in Oman for clients to “win” a judgment but to still have to wait for a separate enforcement procedure to complete before any money is seen. It is therefore important for clients to understand that the underlying court case or arbitration is the first of two limbs with regards to attaining monies. The second limb is that of enforcement.

This article sets out the five practical steps involved within the enforcement process in Oman:

  • Step 1:  Obtain a Court of Appeal Judgment / Award from an Arbitration Tribunal.  If the dispute is being resolved by way of litigation, then you can only enforce a final judgment.  For our purposes, a Primary Court judgment is final if thirty days have elapsed since the date the judgment was rendered and no party has appealed to the Court of Appeal.  If an appeal is made within the prescribed time frame, then the judgment is eligible for enforcement on the day that the Court of Appeal renders its judgment.  If the dispute is being resolved by way of arbitration, then an award by the tribunal must be translated into Arabic by way of a certified translator.  
  • Step 2:  File an Application at the Enforcement Department of the Commercial Circuit of the Court.  In simple terms, filing an application at the Enforcement Department is a very simple and flexible process.  The Department requires a form to be completed and copies of all judgments (Primary Court and, if relevant, Court of Appeal Judgments) or awards in Arabic.  It is good practice to ensure that the document containing the original arbitration clause is also available for inspection by the Enforcement Department, should that be required.  No fees are usually paid in this regard.
  • Step 3:  Check the Notification from the Enforcement Department.  The Enforcement Department will notify the opposing party of enforcement proceedings and provide them with a seven-day period in which to file an objection.  It is vital for the party that has filed for enforcement to keep attending upon the Enforcement Department, so as to enquire as to whether this step has been completed. 
  • Step 4:  Check any Objections of an Opposing Party.  The enforcement can only be stopped if the opposing party files an objection (known as an “Ishtikhal”) within the prescribed seven-day period, or if the Supreme Court has issued a stay order.
  • Step 5:  Check to See if a Hearing has been Filed in Response to the Ishtikhal.  The hearing will determine whether the Ishtikhal is relevant or whether it should be ignored. 
Either way, enforcement takes place after the above steps have been completed.  Whilst the process is relatively simple, it can be time-consuming and technical.  For this reason, we always advise clients to consider the issues around enforcement at the outset of any dispute.