Oman Laws

Traditionally, Oman's judicial system has been based on the Shari'a principles – the Qur'anic laws – and the oral teachings of the Prophet. This is particularly true in case of criminal jurisprudence and personal laws. Oman generally follows commercial laws, drafted on the basis of international laws and principles, for settlement of commercial and business disputes. The judicial system consists of a three-tier hierarchy, with a Court of Cassation (Supreme Court) in Muscat, Six Courts of Appeal at Muscat, Nizwa, Sohar, Ibra, Ibri and Salalah and about 45 Primary Courts in different provinces.

Royal Decree No: 90/99 established a Judicial Authority and formed the Supreme Court (Court of cassation) exercising cassatory jurisdiction over all other courts in the country. There are also summary courts with jurisdiction to try and settle claims up to RO. 15,000 only. Claims exceeding RO. 15,000 are to be tried and settled by primary courts or circuit of first instance. With the promulgation of the Royal Decree 13/97, all government bodies, departments, authorities, general establishments come within the purview and ambit of the jurisdiction of Courts.

The Ministry of Legal Affairs is the government body responsible for drafting legislation and providing other government bodies with legal advice. It is a distinct body from the Ministry of Justice which is responsible for all matters relating to the judiciary. The Ministry of Legal Affairs is the publisher of the Official Gazette and Annual Law Volumes containing all legislation issued in a particular year.

Both Omanis and expatriates form the legal community in Oman. Pleading before the primary courts is nationalised and only Omani lawyers are eligible to appear before such courts. Arab lawyers who are registered as members of the respective Bar Councils of their States are permitted under licence to represent and plead before Omani Courts (from the appellate level). There are many non-Arabic speaking lawyers in the Sultanate, who usually serve as legal consultants/in-house lawyers in Omani law firms. Many foreign law firms have offices in Oman and they work in partnership with Omani lawyers.