Qatar's De-monopolisation and Competition Protection
Committee (the Committee) at the Ministry of Economy and
Commerce has become much more active of late. Therefore, ten
years after its enactment, it is a good time to review the key
provisions of Law 19 of 2006 on the protection of competition
and prohibition of monopolistic practices (the Competition
The Competition Law introduced a new regime of jurisprudence
to Qatar. It was enacted in response to obligations created by
multilateral trade agreements and World Trade Organisation
requirements. It applies to all business activities in Qatar
within the private sector. However, it does not apply to
governmental acts or acts of any entity controlled or
supervised by the state.
The Competition Law forbids collusion, mergers and abusive
conduct that would result in dominant market positions. It aims
to: stabilise domestic markets and achieve social justice by
removing any hurdles that restrict businesses from reaching
local consumers; and, encourage competition to assist economic
growth and national development aims.
Article 1 states that it applies to both collective
activities and unilateral activities in areas of control.
Control is defined as:
the ability of a person or group of persons working
together to control the market of products in order to affect
prices or quantities without competitors having the ability
to limit such effect.
A mandatory notification of mergers creating or likely to
create a so-called control situation is provided by Article 10.
A merger is an acquisition of rights, assets or shares, or the
creation of joint ventures or an amalgamation between two or
more corporate entities. The Committee is responsible for
receiving Article 10 notifications. It must make a decision on
these notifications within 90 days, failing which acceptance of
the merger is deemed to have taken place. Details of ways to
lodge notifications can be found in the Resolution of the
Minister of Economy and Commerce No. (61) of 2008.
Mergers are excluded from the operation of Article 10 where
they contribute to economic progress in a manner that
compensates for any adverse effect on competition (Article 11).
What comprises economic progress is yet to be determined.
Any member of the Committee, as well as properly appointed
ministerial officials, are responsible for investigating
breaches of the Competition Law. To that end, they are
empowered to enter business premises and other places where
activities are being undertaken and to inspect all books and
other documentary records.
Under Article 15, the Committee can make stop orders against
entities in breach of any collusive or abusive conduct or
engaging in any unlawful mergers.
Article 17 provides for punitive fines ranging from 100,000
to 5,000,000 Qatari Riyals (approximately $27, 000 to $1.4
million). It also grants the court the power to confiscate
profits made as a consequence of the unlawful activity. Article
18 provides the same fines are applicable to any individual
responsible for the management of an entity found to have
committed an infringement provided that the individual had
knowledge of and contributed to the infringement. However, it
appears that such individuals are entitled to an indemnity for
the fine from the corporate entity.
The Minister for Economy and Commerce can agree a settlement
without penal remedies, provided that the settlement contains a
payment of between 100,000 to 5,000,000 Qatari Riyals.