Qatar, State of


*Please note this is just a draft and all contents are still under revision.*


Legal Table
Legal Text

Legal System/History

 

From early history, region came under Persian, Portuguese, Ottoman and British influence. 1868 treaty of co-operation signed between Britain and al-Thani tribe settled around Doha; Wahhabism gained influence in 19th century; al-Thani became ruling family of region by 1890s. Ottoman Turkish garrison expelled from Doha and relations with Britain further strengthened by 1916 Treaty of Protection making Qatar British protectorate; continued in force until 1971 when Qatar declared independence. Since then, Penal Code, Civil and Criminal Procedure Codes, and Laws on Judicial Organisation adopted; personal law remains uncodified, administered by shari’a courts.

School(s) of Fiqh

Hanbali majority; large population of expatriates

Constitutional Status of Islam(ic Law)

The Amended provisional basic regulation was passed on 19 April 1972, replacing the Provisional Constitution adopted in 1970. Article 1 declares Islam state religion and provides that "the Islamic Shari’a Law shall be a fundamental source of its legislation";  Article 9 guarantees equal public rights and requires equal public duties without distinction for race, sex or religion.

Court System

 

Qatar maintains dual system of civil and shari’a courts. First civil courts established in 1962. Shari’a courts’ jurisdiction increasingly limited to family law matters (marriage, divorce, wills, succession), though they retain some criminal jurisdiction. Shari’a courts staffed by qadis who administer uncodified (mainly Hanbali-Wahhabi) personal status law and are organised into two levels: Shari’a Courts of First Instance and Shari’a Court of Appeal.

Relevant Legislation

Determination of Powers of Ministers, and the Functions of Ministries and Other Governmental Organs (Law no. 5/1970)

Regulation of the Courts of Justice (Law no. 13/1971)

Law of Civil and Commercial Matters (Law no. 16/1971)

Notable Features

Classical Hanbali fiqh is applied to personal status matters.

Notable Cases

 

Law/Case Reporting System

Law reporting in Official Gazette.

International Conventions (with Relevant Reservations)

CRC – signature 1992, ratification 1995 with general reservation

Legal History:

From its early history, the region now known as Qatar has come under Persian, Portuguese, Ottoman and British influence. Qatar was considered a part of Bahrain by the British until the 1860s, although the ruling al-Khalifah family of Bahrain only exercised limited control over Qatar. In 1868, a treaty of co-operation was signed between Britain and the al-Thani tribe settled around Doha; the treaty outlawed warfare at sea and directed that any conflicts be referred to the British Resident in the Gulf. Wahhabism became influential in the region due to an alliance forged between the al-Thani tribe and Wahhabis and their allies in the late 18th century; the al-Thani tribe became the ruling family of the region by the 1893 after Shaykh Jasim al-Thani, appointed Governor by the Ottomans in 1879, asserted his own rule.

The Ottoman Turkish garrison was expelled from Doha and relations with Britain were further strengthened by the 1916 Treaty of Protection making Qatar a British protectorate. The Treaty of Protection continued in force until 1971 when Qatar declared its independence. Since that time, a Penal Code, Civil and Criminal Procedure Codes, and Laws on Judicial Organisation have been adopted. Personal law remains uncodified, administered by the shari’ah courts.

Schools of Fiqh: The Hanbali school is the predominant madhhab in Qatar. 

Constitutional Status of Islam(ic Law): The Amended provisional basic regulation was passed on 19 April 1972, replacing the Provisional Constitution adopted in 1970. Article 1 declares Islam state religion and provides that "the Islamic Shari’a Law shall be a fundamental source of its legislation".  Article 9 guarantees equal public rights and requires equal public duties without distinction for race, sex or religion.

Court System: Qatar maintains a dual system of civil and shari’a courts. The first civil courts were established in 1962. The shari’a courts’ jurisdiction has increasingly been limited to family law matters (marriage, divorce, wills, succession), though they retain some criminal jurisdiction. Shari’a courts are staffed by qadis who administer uncodified (mainly Hanbali-Wahhabi) personal status law and are organised into two levels: Shari’a Courts of First Instance and the Shari’a Court of Appeal.

Notable Features: Classical Hanbali fiqh is applied to personal status matters.

Notable Cases:  

Law/Case Reporting System: Law reporting is through the Official Gazette.

International Conventions (with Relevant Reservations): Qatar signed the CRC in 1992 and ratified it in 1995, submitting a general reservation to any "provisions incompatible with Islamic Law" upon signature and confirming it upon ratification.

Background and Sources: Amin, Middle East Legal Systems, Glasgow, 1985; Ballantyne, Commercial Law in the Arab Middle East: The Gulf States, London, 1986; El Alami & Hinchcliffe, “The Uncodified Law” in Islamic Marriage and Divorce Laws of the Arab World, London, 1996; El Mallakh, Qatar: The Creation of an Oil Economy, London, 1979; Mahmood, “Gulf” in Statutes of Personal Law in Islamic Countries, 2nd ed., New Delhi, 1995; Redden, “Qatar” in Modern Legal Systems Cyclopedia, vol. 5, Buffalo, NY, 1990.