Sharia’a and Dispute Boards

One of the objections to the use of dispute boards in the Middle East and North Africa that I have heard goes something along the lines of:

“they may work in the West, but we have different laws here and our culture is different”.

Most of the MENA Region law is based upon the Civil Code and also respects the laws of Sharia’a. Whilst I am not a lawyer and certainly not an expert on Sharia’a, I have discussed this at length with people who are experts on both subjects and here is a summary of my findings.

Sharia’a believes in the binding character of any agreements and the Holy Qur’an says:

Oh, you who believe abide by your contractual commitments’ and ‘Oh, you who believe fulfill your contracts’ (al-Ma’ida 5:1).

Dispute boards assist the parties in determining the correct interpretation of contracts and consequently, help the parties to fulfil their obligations as required by Sharia’a.

The principles of Islamic contract law are:

  • The freedom to contract
  • The binding effect of the contract
  • The doctrine of permissibility
  • The duty on the contracting parties to act in good faith
  • The principle of honesty and fair trade
  • The prohibition of misrepresentations

Again, a dispute board will assist each party to abide by these principles while interpreting the contract in a fair and judicious manner.

Sharia’a also encourages amicable settlement and the avoidance of conflict and disputes. Therefore, when assisting the parties to resolve disputes in a professional manner, dispute boards are Sharia’a compliant because they positively prevent disputes occurring and if they do occur, they help to resolve them and avoid their escalation.

It is therefore not only my view, but the view of experts in Sharia’a law, that Dispute Boards will assist the parties in complying with Sharia’a principles and that they are entirely compliant with the principles of Sharia’a.