The Legal Profession:
The Omani legal market is relatively small by comparison with its Middle Eastern neighbours with many international firms preferring to service Oman from their UAE offices; only a handful of firms within Oman play a strong lead in cross-border associations and transactions. Commercial activity has risen significantly in recent years following increased project finance and infrastructure deals and it is expected that more international firms will be looking to establish here.
Regulation of legal profession:
Royal Decree 108 of 1996 regulates the legal profession. There is no independent bar association or law society. The ministry of Justice maintains a committee to regulate the activities of domestic and international lawyers.
Up until 1999 foreign lawyers were controlled by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. This has now changed and foreign lawyers are now overseen by and required to be registered with the Ministry of Justice in accordance with Royal Decree No. 108/96 regulating the conduct of the legal profession in Oman. Foreign lawyers are required to be licensed to practice in Oman by the Ministry of Justice. At present foreign lawyers can advise on Omani law and if they speak Arabic they can appear before the Omani Courts. Foreign law firms were previously, pursuant to Royal Decree No. 108/96, required to introduce Omani partners into their practices by 31 December 1999. However with the introduction of Royal Decree No. 16/2000, the foreign law firms who had been granted licenses prior to the date of introduction of this law have been given a further extension of 3 years whereafter they will be required to form partnerships with local lawyers in order to establish or have an office in Oman.
Oman has made no commitment in relation to the liberalisation of legal services to date. In terms of legal services and the foreign establishment regime the current situation is relatively liberal.