Definition, ownership and registration of the ship in Qatari law

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Definition, ownership and registration of the ship in Qatari law

In the Qatari Maritime Law No. 15 of 1980, the Qatari legislator defined the ship as every navigable facility that normally operates in maritime navigation, or prepared to do so even if it is not profitable, and considered the other necessary equipment and accessories of the ship for its investment as a part of it.

We understand  from the advanced legislative definition that the description of the ship is not limited to the ship’s hull or structure only, but extends to include all of its equipment and accessories that’s necessary for its navigation and exploitation by sea, such as machines and masts connected to the ship’s structure or not connected to the structure such as lifeboats or any machines or devices not connected to the structure, meaning that the ship with its structure, body and appendices considered a single legal unit in Qatari law.

The ship, in its advanced description, acquires the nationality of the State of Qatar in the following cases:

1) If it is registered in a Qatari port, the port of registration is one of the criteria for a ship to acquire Qatari nationality.

2) If its owner acquires Qatari nationality, and we find here that the second criterion for a ship to hold Qatari nationality is that its owner acquires Qatari nationality. The legislator did not differentiate between those who acquired Qatari nationality by birth and those who acquired it by naturalization. The ship is registered in a Qatari port and its owner holds Qatari nationality, so one does not replace the other, so it must be registered in one of the Qatari seaports, and the owner must be Qatari.

3) In the case of collective ownership of the ship, all owners of it must have Qatari nationality, and we find that the Qatari legislator has equated individual ownership with collective ownership, the most prominent examples of which can be the death of the ship owner and the transfer of ownership to his heirs, so the ownership of the ship in this case becomes collective ownership among the inheritors.

4) In the event that the owner is a company, it must take the form of a joint liability company, limited partnership, joint stock company, or a limited liability company. If it is a joint liability company, all partners must have Qatari citizenship. If it is a limited partnership, all the general partners must be Qatari nationals, and at least 51% of the capital must be owned by persons with this nationality. If it is a joint stock company, more than half of the members of the board of directors, including the chairman and managing director, must be Qatari citizens. At least 51% of the capital must be owned by persons with this nationality. If it is a limited liability company, all partners, including the managers and members of the supervisory board, must have Qatari nationality.

So we find that the Qatari legislator required that the company that owns the ship in order to acquire Qatari nationality should be in one of the following forms of commercial companies:

  1.  A joint liability company, and all partners in it must have Qatari citizenship, which is an exception compared to the new Qatari Investment Law No. 1 of 2019, which permitted foreign investment in all sectors.
  • B)      A limited partnership, and all the “joint” partners in it must also have Qatari citizenship. The Qatari legislator also stipulated that 51% of the company’s capital be owned by people holding Qatari citizenship, and what applies to the limited partnership company, its provisions apply to the partnership limited by shares. As well as the public and private joint-stock company, since the legislator did not specify a specific type of the joint-stock company. Also, this legal regulation is an exception regarding the foreigner’s right to own more than 49% of the company’s capital under the new Qatari investment No. 1 of 2019.

It is worth noting that the Qatari legislator has limited the types of companies that may own a ship bearing Qatari citizenship to only four companies.

The joint liability companies, the limited partnership, the limited partnership with shares and both types of joint-stock companies, so with the concept of violation, no company other than the previously named companies can own a Qatari ship.

The port of registration of the Qatari ship is considered the domicile of the ship, as it is concerned with the ship’s entry, and all subsequent actions that occur on the ship, such as the establishment of the record and the transfer and expiration of the right of ownership on the ship or any of the other rights in rem that fall on the ship.

Evidence of this aforementioned behavior shall be by virtue of a notarized instrument or by virtue of a final court ruling. In case the disposition took place in a foreign country, it must be written before the consul of the State of Qatar or before the competent local notary when there is no consul. The said dispositions shall not be valid between the contracting parties nor to third parties unless they are declared in accordance with the conditions established in Qatari law.

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