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Court ruling to bring in more competitiveness, investment


Staff Reporter -

Muscat, Dec 27  -

The Administrative Court has issued a court ruling declaring the invalidity of the decision to licence a foreign legal consulting firm operating here in Oman which is set to allow for greater competitiveness, investment and employment opportunities in the Sultanate.

Sources said that this ruling is an unprecedented one in the Sultanate against a foreign law firm and it paves the way for a radical correction in the way foreign law firms operate here — creating new employment opportunities and a healthy competitive environment that is attractive to potential investors.

The case relates to a lawsuit filed by an Omani law firm against a foreign law firm operating in the same field illegally, resulting in unlawful competition and a violation of Omani legislation.

The plaintiff based his case on the fact that foreign legal consulting firms operating in the Sultanate were given a stated period to correct their operative situation in accordance to the provisions of the law and its executive regulations (70/99) whereby these firms were required to have at least one Omani lawyer as a partner within the stipulated grace period.

Unfortunately, some law firms did not abide by the provisions of this law and, in this regard. According to Muadh al Mukhaini, a leading lawyer, who spoke to a Arabic website on the case, “The law gave foreign legal consulting firms a deadline January 1, 2003 to correct their legal status. After this date, one of the partners of these foreign firms must be an Omani lawyer, so as to ensure that Omani legislation is properly understood and applied and is consistent with public order. Despite the time granted to change the status, the sentenced foreign company remained free to practice without adhering to the law over the past several years resulting in unfair and illegal competition with other Omani law firms.” Al Mukhaini pointed out that “Omani law firms have suffered great damage as a result of this type of unfair competition, so we did not hesitate to seek justice from the judicial Administrative Court.

An administrative case was filed in February with the aim of cancelling official licensing for this company. The final ruling of Administrative Court of the First Instance, Muscat, was that the decision to licence a foreign company to work within the Sultanate in the field of legal consultations was illegitimate — confirming the necessity of respecting the laws in Oman, which allows for equal opportunities and the uplifting of the Sultanate’s legal profession.

This will help to attract greater investment into Oman, as it enhances the confidence of foreign litigants in the legal system of the country. It is also worth noting that the legal sector has witnessed many radical amendments, including several decisions issued by concerned authorities to Omanise the country’s legal profession.

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