We have launched a public COVID-19 News Blog, https://www.c19lexismena.com/ which provides free access to the latest legal and tax updates related to COVID-19 in the MENA region in both English and French. It has been produced by Lexis® Middle East and Lexis® Maroc.
The Kuwaiti Central Bank has issued a circular to banks requesting them not to submit their financial data for the first quarter. This circular adds banks to the list of companies that have been exempt from submitting their financial data for the first quarter and postpones it to the second quarter. The Central Bank said that all banks, except the Industrial Bank, will be able to provide their data pursuant to the provisions of Article 82 of Kuwait Law No. 32/1968 on e cash, the central bank of Kuwait, and the regulation of the banking profession and its amendments.
Bahrain’s King has approved amendments to the country’s Commercial Companies Law. Under Bahrain Law No. 6/2020, Article 284(A) of Bahrain Decree-Law No. 21/2001 will be amended to read as follows ‘Each partner shall have the right to attend the meetings of the general assembly either in person or by his proxy, provided that the proxy shall not be from among the members of the control board, the company’s manager or among the company’s employees. The special proxy shall be in writing and prepared by the company for this purpose. Each partner shall have a number of votes equal to the shares he owns in the company’. The Prime Minister and the Ministers will implement the law. It will come into force the day after it is published in the Official Gazette.
Dr Walid Alsamaani, the Justice Minister and Chairman of the Supreme Judicial Council, has issued directives to launch a platform for electronic auctioning which will enables customers to participate in judicial auctions without the need to attend them in person. The platform will be rolled out in Riyadh first then will be expanded to cover i other cities in the kingdom. The platform will enable courts to manage the liquidation of fixed and transferrable assets and offer them for sale electronically. Customers will be to participate in these auction directly which support access to equal opportunities.
Qatar’s Communications Regulatory Authority has announced it has launched a public consultation on a draft Cloud Policy. The consultation ends on 23 April 2020. The Cloud Policy has been developed as part of the Authority’s 2020-2024 Strategy and in line with the National Vision 2030 and Qatar National Second Development Strategy 2018-2022. The Policy will provide a regulatory framework for Cloud Computing in the country. It will apply to Government entities. Comments should be sent to email@example.com with Consultation on Cloud Policy Statement as the subject.
Implementing guidelines issued by the Emir of Qatar on countering the spread of the COVID-19 including the decision to cancel customs fees, the Qatari Customs Department has cancelled fees on certain products. Customs fees on food and medicine will be cancelled for six months. The list of exempt items includes 905 items such as meat, dairy, fish, oils, juices, facial masks, sanitizers, soap products, detergents, wipes, and other products.
The Kuwaiti Health Ministry has decided to withdraw all medicines containing the anti-malarial drug Hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine from private pharmacies and limit them to hospitals and health centres according to the state news agency. According to Undersecretary of Health for Drug and Food Control Affairs the decision has been made to tighten control over the distribution of these medicines and to prevent their misuse or monopoly. Plaquenil which is the brand name for hydroxychloroquine has recently been mentioned in the media as a possible treatment for COVID-19. However, doctors have said it can cause serious side effects or there is a risk of overdose without proper medical guidance.
The Central Bank of Bahrain has issued a circular to banks and finance companies directing them not to calculate any interest on the postponement of loans for six months starting from March to August 2020. The circular said original loan repayments should be stopped for six months and that no additional interest or fees should be imposed on customers. In addition, interest rates and repayment amounts should remain the same throughout the credit term and as they were before the postponement.
The Abu Dhabi Judicial Department has issued Abu Dhabi Circular No. 7/2020 on the work of judges and postponement of trial during the COVID-19 crisis. All courts in Abu Dhabi will postpone trials and appeals which currently have pending decisions for no less than 30 days. In addition, all judges in the urgent courts (including civil, commercial and labour) will work remotely and issue judgments on urgent cases and old cases where the decisions have already been made. Pending judgments will be postponed for no less than 30 days. The Circular also states case registration for initial hearings and appeals will be postponed for no less than 30 days starting from 26 March. Existing judgments will be given without the presence of the parties.
The UAE’s Health Prevention Ministry and the Interior Ministry have announced, there will be a ‘National Disinfection Programme’ which will involve a complete sterilisation of all public utilities, public transport and metro services during the weekend. The programme began at 8:00 PM on 26 March 2020 and ended at 06:00 AM on 29 March 2020 but has been extended.
During this period, the movement of traffic and the public will be restricted and public transportation and metro services will be halted. The public have been urged to stay at home during the disinfection period and not to go out unless it is absolutely necessary to get essential supplies or because they work in vital sectors, including energy, telecommunications, health, education, security, law enforcement, military, postal service, shipping and logistics, medicines, water, food, civil aviation, airports, passports, banking and financial services, government media and the service sectors, including petrol stations and construction. During this period workers’ personal or work identity will be checked and verified.