Move to bar expat lawyers from appeal, supreme court proceedings in Oman

Business Monday 27/June/2016 22:45 PM
By: Times News Service
Move to bar expat lawyers from appeal, supreme court proceedings in Oman

Muscat: Expat lawyers are likely to be prevented from presenting cases before the appeal and supreme courts at the end of this year, according to a Ministers Council decision on extending the activation of a Royal Decree issued in 1996.
The decree stated that non-Omani lawyers would be unable to appear before the appeal and supreme courts. However, the royal decree provided lawyers with options to resolve their status over a seven year period. The decision later was extended until 2008, and then to December 31, 2016.
Expat lawyers were already banned from presenting in primary courts, as a first stage in imposing the decision to Omanise the legal field. Varied responses from lawyers were recently raised, as some lawyers felt it was worthwhile to Omanise the legal field, while others believed that it is too early to impose such restrictions since the number of Omani lawyers licensed to present cases before the appeal and supreme courts remains too few.
The Omani Lawyers Association chairman and Chairman of Majlis Al Shura’s Legislative Legal Committee, Dr. Mohammed bin Ibrahim Al Zadjali, said that according to the Council of Minister’s decision, the extension for non-Omani lawyers to appear before the courts of appeal and the supreme court will expire on December 31, 2016.
Al Zadjali pointed out that the Ministry of Justice has contacted the Omani Lawyers Association and law firms operating in the Sultanate to obtain feedback about Omanising these two stages. After receiving feedback, the Ministry will submit its recommendation to the Council of Ministers, assuring that there is enough time before December 31.
A lawyer who recently received his appeals licence, but refused to be identified, explained that many lawyers’ offices might shut down as a result of banning expat lawyers from presenting cases before the appeal and supreme courts.
“Many small offices employ one or two nationals, and another one or two expat lawyers,so they can survive in the market. Expat lawyers have considerable experience in Oman legal cases, and it will be very sad to remove them from the market at this time,” said the lawyer. He added that the procedures to obtain a licence to present before the appeal and supreme courts takes some 14 years.
“A new graduate lawyer should be under training for two years before being able to present in primary courts. In this stage, the lawyer is eligible to establish a law office. The lawyer can receive an Appeals licence after completing five years in the primary courts, and then seven years in the Appeal courts, to become eligible to present before the Supreme courts,” said the lawyer, adding that a limited number of Omani lawyers will have the opportunity to dominate the market, if non-Omanis are prevented from appearing.
“There are two options for small lawyers’ offices after enacting this decision. Either they close their offices and find another source of income, or work with medium and large legal offices when having appeal or supreme courts cases,” said the lawyer.
He added that the government should consider those who are beginning their careers and need to open their first offices, with hope of one day becoming a large firm. “I call on the government to consider everything before deciding,” said the lawyer.