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.
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.
Bahrain’s Shoura Council has referred the amended Bankruptcy Law (Bahrain Law No. 22/2018) to the country’s Cabinet to consider further. Under the amendments, owed amounts could be collected from representatives in Bahrain rather than in the country where the entity is based. In addition, owed amounts could be claimed from inheritors or guardian if the bankrupt party retires or dies. The 2018 Law was rushed through in 15 days as the authorities wanted bankruptcy legislation on the statute book.
Bahrain’s Labour Market Regulatory Authority have announced labour complaints can now be filed at two new offices. They will be based at the Labour Claims Departments at the Expatriate Protection Centre in Sehla and the Labour Market Regulatory Authority branch in Riffa will register all labour-related disputes, including non-payment of wages. However, the offices will not deal with existing cases. They will be open five days a week from 8am to 4pm. The complainant will be given a case number and a court hearing date as soon as the grievance is recorded. The aim is to speed up the registration of labour disputes.
Bahrain’s Shoura Council has approved a draft law to amend Article 284(A) of Bahrain Decree-Law No. 21/2001 (the Commercial Companies Law). It covers an agent’s attendance at general assembly meetings of joint-stock companies and will allow representatives to attend on behalf of shareholders or partners if they have written authorisation. The Chairman of the Council’s Financial and Economic Affairs Committee said the amendment will give powers of attorney to representatives while they attend the assembly. The move is aimed at improving transparency and help avoid conflicts of interest.
Bahrain’s Parliament is considering a draft maritime law, which if approved, will increase penalties for various offences. At 392 articles it is the second longest law to be considered in the Kingdom’s legislative history. Parliament will debate and vote on the draft law within three months.
Among other things, the law states fines of between 1,000 and 10,000 Dinars or jail terms of up too six months will be imposed on those who operate without a license, handle cargo without authorisation or fall short of the safety standards. Ship owners, managers, captains or agents who evade fees or taxes or cheat officials will be jailed for up to six months and/or fined 10,000 Dinars. Vessel owners or operators who cause pollution will be fined between 5,000 and 50,000 Dinars and the ship will be temporarily seized. If they commit the same offence again, the fine will be doubled.
Those who dump oil and chemicals at sea will be jailed for up to five years in jail and fined between 15,000 and 150,000 Dinars. If they commit the same offence again, the fine will be doubled. Captains who don’t report pollution their ships cause will be fined between 1,000 and 3,000 Dinars and captains whose ships carry unauthorised nuclear waste will be fined between 50,000 and 100,000 Dinars.
Bahraini MPs have rejected proposed amendments to the Commercial Registration Law. The amendments were going to allow the Industry, Commerce and Tourism Ministry rather than applicants to follow up on approvals related to commercial registrations. They were also going to double penalties on individuals if they committed the same violation of their commercial registration terms twice rather than having it doubled for a second offence, even if unrelated.
The Head of Bahrain’s Execution Court has announced it is going to expedite procedures in the Court. The Courts have been split to hear different cases and enable them to provide more effective e-services. The number of Execution Court judges have also been increased from six to eight. The changes have been introduced together with the Supreme Judicial Council and the Justice, Islamic Affairs and Endowments Ministry. Private firms will also be able to act as legal notaries if they are licensed.
Bahrain’s Bourse launched a public consultation on a proposed administrative fines framework. The consultation was launched on 24 November and ended on 5 December 2019. The proposed framework is being introduced in line with the Bourse’s Listing Rules which relate to their powers to impose administrative fines on issuers in the event of non-compliance with the Listing Rules and any other applicable rules, regulations and directives.
To ensure this power is used appropriately, the Bourse is proposing establishing a framework to impose administrative fines for non-compliance with the applicable rules, regulations and directives. The fines will vary depending on the impact and frequency of the violation. They will range between 500 and 10,000 Dinars for each violation and can be up to 100,000 Dinars for cross-listed companies exceeding 30% of an issuer’s share capital for each secondary market they are listed on. All cases will be assessed and reviewed by an Issuer Violation Committee which will be established by the Bourse.
Bahrain’s First High Criminal Court issued verdicts in the case of six suspects found guilty of joining a terrorist group and attempting an explosion. They were also charged with acquiring and possessing explosives without a license, and training on the making of explosives. Five were sentenced to life in prison and the sixth was jailed for five years. They were each fined 500 Dinars and the items were seized. They had received money, advice and materials from abroad and had attempted to blow up a bank ATM but the device failed.