A comparative examination of the Qatar Financial Center (QFC) consumer dispute resolution scheme
البيانات الوصفيةعرض كامل للتسجيلة
In 2016, the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) introduced a Customer Dispute Resolution Scheme (CDRS) in Chapter 8 of the Conduct of Business Rules 2007. The CDRS is an alternative to litigation for QFC participants (retail or individual) who have a dispute with an authorized firm. The CDRS is designed to be an independent, cost effective and binding avenue that acts as a buffer between the stage where service providers and clients fail to resolve a dispute directly and litigation. The main objective of the CDRS is consumer protection. This paper will examine the scope and nature of the CDRS and compare its salient features to similar schemes in Hong Kong, Australia and other comparable jurisdictions. A CDRS is a form of ADR that does not have many of the formalities of arbitration and litigation. On the spectrum of ADR, a CDRS is somewhere beyond mediation and less than arbitration. Unlike mediation, a final decision in a CDRS matter is actually tendered by an independent adjudicator, and unlike arbitration, the final decision, at least in Qatar, is only enforceable by one side to the dispute (the customer or weaker party) against QFC authorized firms. The focal point of CDRS arrangements is the customer. Matters can usually only be initiated by customers and the costs and procedures are tailored to accommodate individual and retail customers. In Qatar, legal representation is optional and the cost is free. The consumer-friendly nature of the adjudication, to a certain extent, conceals the significant monetary jurisdiction of the CDRS in Qatar. The maximum amount that the adjudicator can award in a CDRS matter is 400,000 QAR. This is not an insignificant amount. With so much money potentially at stake, understanding exactly how the CDRS in the QFC is cast is crucial. The policy considerations faced by the Qatar Financial Centre Regulatory Authority (QFCRA) and that animate the CDRS space in Qatar require the balancing of two competing interests. First, there is the central consideration of enhancing consumer confidence and the protection of consumers from unfair or uncommercial conduct. Second, against this primary objective, policy makers must also balance the legitimate expectation that QFC authorized firms have to be free from vexatious actions and subject to fair and unbiased tribunals. This paper will explore how Qatar stacks up against other CDRS-type processes in other leading financial hubs around the world. Although the outcomes of adjudications are confidential, the QFCRA has released thematic guidance on the types of disputes being submitted for adjudication. Moreover, a number of non-descript case studies have also been published for the purpose of informing the market about the types of disputes being heard and the manner in which they are resolved. Therefore, this study is based on a close analysis of these available resources and an examination of the applicable legal instruments in light of emerging trends and practices in comparable jurisdictions.