The Qatar Financial Centre (QFC), a leading onshore financial and business centre in the region, has unveiled a new policy regime for those providing legal services in the QFC for prospective applicants.
The new policy, effective with immediate effect, sets out the conditions to prospective applicants intending to provide legal services in or from the QFC, ensuring that these firms have a “positive” economic impact on Qatar.
The new guidance has set forth four conditions under which the international law firms may be licensed in the QFC.
The firm has to be ranked by Legal 500, Chambers and Partners, or by a similar reputable ranking acceptable to the QFC Authority.
The firm has to conduct most of its operations from Qatar and at least 51% of the QFC entity's income should be attributed to activities undertaken by it in Qatar.
The legal firm would have no less than three full-time lawyers on the ground whose individual salaries meet a minimum of QR15,000 each. It will occupy an office with a minimum of 8sqm per person.
"With the new designated policy, we ensure that new legal firms licensed with the QFC have the capacity and expertise to serve these international clients across geographic boundaries and help meet their global strategy," QFC Authority chief executive Yousuf Mohamed al-Jaida said.
The new regime comes in the wake of Qatar's robust economy and strategic location not only attracting an increasing number of global companies but also propelling local firms to international markets.
"As global actors, these firms require seamless multinational services," he said.
The policy further stipulates that “while exemptions may be made, subject to the QFC Authority’s absolute discretion, for firms that have a strategically important substantial contract with the government, subcontracts, where the government is not a party, will not be exempted.”
The QFC is an onshore jurisdiction that allows registered companies to enjoy competitive benefits, such as up to 100% foreign ownership, 100% repatriation of profits, 10% corporate tax on locally sourced profits, and an extensive double taxation treaty network with over 80 countries, a legal environment based on English common law and the right to trade in any currency.
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