Oman arbitration centre to begin hearing disputes before year-end

Oman’s dedicated forum for the arbitration of commercial disputes is being prepped to receive cases – referred to it by either local or international parties – starting from the end of this year.

The entity, formally known as Oman Commercial Arbitration Centre, was formally unveiled last year as an independent and financially autonomous body operating under the broad auspices of Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI).  Its much-anticipated operationalisation will be welcomed by the local and international investor community which has long advocated for arbitration-based mechanisms for the resolution of commercial disputes outside of formal court-based legal forums.

“The Commercial Arbitration Centre is expected to be ready to receive disputes referred to it locally and globally in the last quarter of 2020,” said the Implementation Support & Follow-up Unit (ISFU) of the Diwan of Royal Court – a special task force mandated to fast-track projects and initiatives designed to accelerate Oman’s economic diversification.

The high-powered unit has played a key role in activating the Centre as part of a raft of initiatives aimed at enhancing Oman’s investment appeal internationally. The new centre, which was unveiled last July, provides a much-needed platform for investors and other market players to find time-bound solutions to commercial and economic disputes as an alternative to the court system, where litigation can potentially drag on interminably.

“This initiative aims at establishing a centre that looks into commercial disputes that arise between the parties before going to court,” said ISFU in its 2019 Annual Report. “The centre shall be administratively and financially independent, as it will be operated in the future through fees received in arbitration cases of local and international commercial disputes, training courses it holds, and publications it issues.”

With the availability of arbitration services in the Sultanate, parties to a commercial dispute need no longer travel outside of Oman to settle their disagreements. Furthermore, the Oman Centre has set an outer limit of six months for the settlement of disputes brought to it for arbitration.