By Dr Nizar Kochery/Doha
Question: In our subcontract, a clause stipulates that the risk of force majeure is with the subcontractor. Is there a way to get relief? Now we are in huge debt and there is no way to overcome it. Can we approach the court?
Answer: The Qatar Civil Law – Law No. 22 of 2004 governs contracts and relationship between parties and force majeure provisions in contracts are enforceable. As per the said law, under the principle ‘freedom of contract’ parties are free to agree whatever contract terms they choose. The contract makes the law of the parties and can be revoked or altered only by mutual consent of the parties or for reasons provided for by the law. The debtor may, by agreement, accept liability for unforeseen events and for cases of force majeure or sudden accident. Accordingly, as the contract transfers this risk, it will be generally binding and enforceable.
However, Article 171(2) stipulates that when performance of the contractual obligation becomes excessively onerous in such way as to threaten the debtor with exorbitant loss, as a result of exceptional and unpredictable events of a general character, the judge may, according to the circumstances, and after taking into consideration the interests of both parties, reduce to reasonable limits by lessening its extent or increasing its consideration, the obligation that has become excessive. Any agreement to the contrary is void. Hence, a debtor may apply to the court to have his contractual obligation reduced to a “reasonable margin”.
End-of-service benefits for domestic workers
Q: Please explain whether the end-of-service provisions in the law are applicable to domestic workers. Are they entitled to end-of-service benefits?
A: The provisions of Law No.14 of 2004 – the Labour Law are not applicable to house drivers, cooks, nurses etc. working at home. However, upon implementation of Law No. 15 of 2017 – Domestic Workers Law, domestic workers will be entitled for various benefits including gratuity. Article 15 of the said law stipulates that the employer is responsible for paying end-of-service benefits to domestic workers who spent minimum one year in service. The benefits shall be determined by the agreement between parties provided that it shall be at least three weeks’ wages for each year spent in service. A domestic worker shall be entitled to fractions of the year multiplied by the period spent in service.
Designated areas for clearing waste
Q: I am working in a waste management company. The company is forcing me to collect waste and dispose of in a suitable place. No designated place for clearing it is given to me. I am new to Qatar. Please advise.
A: Law No. 30 of 2002, the Environmental Protection Law, was implemented for protection and preservation of the quality and natural balance of the environment. According to Article 32 of the law, dumping and burning garbage or treatment of solid and liquid waste shall be restricted except in designated areas away from residential, industrial and agricultural areas and waterways. Any person who breaches the said provision shall be punished with a fine not less than QR5,000 and not exceeding QR50,000.
Wages during sick leave
Q: I am working in a LLC contracting company as site supervisor. Two weeks ago, I obtained leave from the company for undergoing medical treatment. Under the employment law, am I eligible for wages during my leave period? What is the procedure to be followed for extension of leave?
A: Article 82 of the Labour Law provides the worker sick leave with pay on completion of three months in service subject to production of sickness certificate to prove his sickness from a physician approved by the employer. The worker is entitled for full wage for the first two weeks and half of his wage for other four weeks. The extension of the sick leave thereafter shall be without pay until the worker resumes his work or resigns or his service is terminated for health reasons. The service of the worker may be terminated at the end of the 12th week of the sick leave if it has been proved by a report issued by the competent physician that the worker is unable to resume his work at that time.
Case of alcoholic drinks in the car
Q: What action will be taken against a person who was arrested with alcoholic drinks in the car in a public place? He was not drunk and the case was charged for selling alcohol. Please advise.
A: According to Article 273 of penal law, anyone who sells or buys, delivers or receives, transports or possesses alcohol or alcoholic beverages, or deals with alcohol in any way for the purpose of trade or promotion shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine not exceeding QR10,000, or with both.
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