Monday, May 9, 2022

Partial and Interim Arbitral Awards in Oman

It is relatively common in arbitration proceedings for a party to seek an interim or partial award on a discrete issue. The issue may concern fundamental matters such as the tribunal’s jurisdiction, time bars on proceeding, and so forth, or preliminary points which may limit the need for certain evidence to be heard.  There are a variety of reasons why an interim or partial award may be sought.

A key issue arises in relation to interim awards in which the governing law is Oman. The Law accompanying Royal Decree 47/1997 (also known as the Oman Arbitration Law) does not contain any procedure for partial or interim awards. That would not prevent an arbitral tribunal from issuing an arbitral award, but questions arise about what a party may do to challenge an interim or partial award.

Some interim or partial awards may have the effect of concluding a matter in favour of one party or another. In such cases, the interim award is in effect a final award, and (depending on the details of the proceeding) could most likely be challenged in the same way and to the same extent that a final award might be challenged, pursuant to Articles 52 to 54 of Royal Decree 47/1997. 

However, where a partial or interim award only concludes certain aspects of an arbitration proceeding, and the arbitration continues, or where the issue had the potential to conclude the arbitration, but the award as issued did not, then any party wishing to challenge the award has a problem.  Article 54 provides that a party seeking to set aside an award must do so within 90 days.  However, because the Oman Arbitration Law does not allow for interim or partial awards, there is some uncertainty whether the 90 days commences from the receipt of the interim or partial award, or from receipt of the final award, which will in part reflect the earlier award. To date there appears to be no case law on the issue.  If a party is placed in such a situation, and thinks it has good grounds, it may be prudent to at least apply to set aside an unfavourable interim award within 90 days of its receipt, but this is a matter that should be carefully considered by a party in conjunction with its legal advisors. 


Thursday, March 31, 2022

Omani Personal Data Protection Law

Oman has recently issued a national privacy legislation with the publication of a new Personal Data Protection Law, promulgated by Sultani Decree 6/2022 (the “Law”). The Law was issued on 9 February 2022, and will come into effect on 13 February 2023. The Law will repeal Chapter Seven of the Electronic Transactions Law that limited obligations related to the protection of private data in the field of electronic transactions. The issuance of this Law in Oman follows the recurring trend of data protection regulations in the Middle East. 

Who It Applies To 

The Law applies to the processing of personal data, which is defined as “data that identifies a natural person or makes him identifiable, directly or indirectly, by reference to one or more identifiers.” This consists of the name of the person, ID number, location data or data relating to their genetic, physical, mental, psychological, social, cultural or economic identity. 

Who It Does Not Apply To 
  • The Law includes a substantial list of excluded categories to which the provisions of the Law will not be applicable: 
  • Protection of national security or public interest. 
  • Implementation of the units of the administrative apparatus of the state and other public legal persons of the competences prescribed to them by law. 
  • Implementation of a legal obligation imposed on the controller by virtue of any law, judgment, or decision by the court. 
  • Protection of the economic and financial interests of the state. • Protection of a vital interest of the individual to whom personal data relates (data subject). 
  • Detection or prevention of a crime on the basis of a formal written request by the investigation entities. 
  • Execution of a contract to which the data subject is a party. • If the processing is within the personal or family sphere. 
  • For the purposes of historical, statistical, scientific, literary, or economic research, by entities authorised to carry out such works, provided that no indication or reference relating to the data subject is used in the published research and statistics, to guarantee that the personal data is not attributed to an identified or identifiable natural person.
  • If the data is available to the public in a manner that does not impose any violations against the provisions of the Law.
Main Features

Organisations are under the obligation to process personal data within the framework of transparency,
honesty, and respect for human dignity and to grant individuals the right to revoke consent to processing of their personal data, the right to request for their personal data to be amended or erased, the right to have a copy of their personal data and the right to have personal data transferred to another party.

Controllers are required to identify a personal data protection officer.  In addition, there will be controls
on transfers of personal data outside of Oman.  Controllers and all third parties that are appointed to process  the  personal  data  may  be  required  by  the  Ministry  of  Transport,  Communications  and Information Technology to appoint an external auditor in order to verify their compliance. 

A general restriction is placed on the processing of sensitive personal data (genetic and biometric data,
health data, ethnic origin, sex life, political/religious opinions or beliefs, criminal convictions, security measures) without initially obtaining an approval from the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Information  Technology.    Furthermore,  the  processing  of  a  child’s  personal  data  will  not  permitted without the express consent from the guardian unless the processing of such data is in the best interest of the child. 

The executive regulations that will be published in due course will provide further clarifications to the
extent of the requirements and restrictions. 

Consequences of Breach

Data subjects hold the right to file an official complaint to the Ministry of Transport, Communications
and Information Technology if they believe that the processing of their personal data is in breach of the Law.  Furthermore, the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Information Technology has the discretion, in the case that it suspects a violation of the Law, to order rectification and erasure of personal data.

The penalties in relation to the disclosure of secrets or any other applicable privacy offence under the
Oman Penal Law and other laws will continue to be in effect. 


Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Major Changes To Dubai Arbitration Landscape

In recent years, many Oman-based companies have included DIFC/LCIA arbitration clauses in their contracts.  It has been a popular choice for dispute resolution as it combined the certainty of the well-known and trusted LCIA rules, with the convenience of locally administered institutional arbitration within  the  DIFC.    Dubai  Decree  No. 34  of  2021  -  Dubai  International  Arbitration  (the  “Decree”), accompanied by a new statute (the “Statute”), reforms the framework for arbitration in the Emirate of Dubai, and carries important changes for those negotiating and administering contracts. 

The  Decree  dissolves  the  DIFC  arbitration  institution  and  the  Emirates  Maritime  Arbitration  Centre

(“EMAC”), and provides for a framework under which the existing Dubai International Arbitration Centre (“DIAC”) will become the default center for arbitration in Dubai.  This is an important change to note for companies with existing DIFC/LCIA clauses, or those accustomed to including such clauses by default.  The following is a summary of the key changes:

  • Centralisation of Arbitration in the Emirates:  The Decree abolishes the EMAC and the DIFC arbitration institutions.  Both institutions’ operations shall be transferred to DIAC. 
  • Amended Management Structure for DIAC and Introduction of the Court of Arbitration:  DIAC is now composed of three main bodies:  (1) Board of Directors; (2) the Court of Arbitration; and (3) the Administrative Body.  The DIAC Court of Arbitration will consist of 13 members.  The President  of  the  Court  will  be  appointed  by  the  Board  of  Directors.    The  DIAC  Court  of Arbitration is charged with supervising and reviewing draft arbitral awards prior to tribunals issuing the same.  It is hoped that this will reduce any issues faced during enforcement.
  • Supervisory Jurisdiction of the Dubai Courts and DIFC Courts:  Determination of the place or seat of arbitration and the Court with supervisory jurisdiction is intended to be clarified.  There has  been  in  the  past  uncertainty  as  to  whether  the  Dubai  Courts  or  the  DIFC  Court  is  the competent supervisory court with jurisdiction over enforcement and/or nullification of DIAC awards or arbitral awards generally in Dubai.  Article 4 of the Statute clarifies this uncertainty.  The Dubai Courts are bound to accept jurisdiction as a supervisory court if the DIAC arbitration is seated in Dubai, and the DIFC Courts are required to deny jurisdiction in those circumstances (i.e., if the arbitration is not seated within the DIFC).  It should be noted that the DIFC is the default seat of DIAC arbitration proceedings if the parties do not agree otherwise. 
  • Arbitration Funding:  Article 8.4 of the Statute permits the DIAC Board of Directors to establish rules concerning funders of arbitration. 
  • Publication of Revised DIAC Rules:  These have been in the pipeline for some time and, with the expanded and prominent role of DIAC, are expected to be released soon.
In short, now is a good time to review your contracts, and seek legal advice as to how best tailor your arbitration  clauses  to  ensure  that  they  reflect  these  changes,  and  continue  to  meet  the  needs  and intentions of the parties and the subject matter/value of the contract involved.