(Feb. 13, 2009) On January 27, 2009, Qatar's Shura Council, an appointed body that evaluates proposed legislation, reviewed new amendments to article 4 of Law 23-2006 on the right to practice law. Under the current version of article 4, the Department of State Cases in the Ministry of Justice is the only government entity that is entitled to represent other government agencies before any court of law. Law 23-2006 also grants government agencies the right to hire specialized, registered lawyers if needed. Furthermore, under the aforementioned law, individuals working at the legal departments of private institutions and corporations are prohibited from representing these private entities before a court. Lawyers registered in the Lawyers' Commission of the Ministry of Justice are the only parties entitled to provide such representation. This restriction creates great pressure on the 98 registered lawyers in the country.
To facilitate the judicial process and alleviate the pressure on registered lawyers, the Shura Council is considering issuing new amendments to article 4. The new amendments would allow individuals who work in the legal departments of private and public entities to represent those institutions before district courts. However, the new amendments specify certain requirements that must be fulfilled prior to any such legal representation being made. The individuals must: 1) have a law degree; 2) have practiced law for 5 years; 3) hold Qatari citizenship; 4) have no criminal record; and 5) obtain a power of attorney from the private or public entity. In addition, the new amendments require private and public institutions to receive permission from the office that registers lawyers to utilize their staff in litigations concerning disputes that do not exceed QR100,000 (about US$30,000). (The Judicial Committee at the Shura Council Recommends the Approval of Amendments to the Law of Lawyers, AL RAYAH NEWSPAPER, Jan. 27 2009, available at http://www.raya.com/mritems/streams/2009/1/27/2_414607_1_212.pdf.)