News and Public Relations

Gulf Insider Q & A with Aymen Almoayed 
Date: 30 Jun 2014

Gulf Insider: What are your firm’s specific areas of expertise?

Aymen Almoayed, Almoayed Chambers Chairman and Managing Partner: We focus on cross-industry disputes, usually spanning more than one country. We also do a lot of acquisitions on behalf of our clients, many of whom outsource all their legal handling to us.

GI: What differentiates AlmoayedChambers from others?

AA: While most legal firms in Bahrain specialise on small local disputes, we are capable of taking very complicated international cases. Very few firms here can do that, because it requires expertise in laws that apply in different jurisdictions.

We are also very systematic in ensuring constant communication between the litigators and the consultants who draft the contracts, so that every single sentence in our agreements relates to a certain case. In most other firms this does not happen, although it is very important. A few additional lines in the contract can easily fix a “loophole” and prevent future problems.

GI: What do you expect for the next 12 months to happen for your firm?

AA: We are growing strong; we have actually doubled in size. We also started taking very large arbitration cases abroad, which is new for us. And we’re now recruiting quite a lot. We have finally come to terms with the fact that the local calibre that we want is not available right out of the University. That’s why we have developed our own internship training programmes. In the next 12 months we want to gather as many student trainees as possible, and select the best ones.

While in other industries there’s no need for that, our problem is the unsatisfactory level of law education in Bahrain. Even the graduates who studied abroad still need a crash course on Bahraini laws upon coming back.

GI: What are the major differences between Bahrain’s legal system and that of the Western part of the world?

AA: There are three main differences between Bahraini and European or American legal systems. First, the role of the Constitution – while ours is very large and detailed, the American one is rather brief, and the British one does not even exist in writing. That gives the judges great power. The authority of our judges is much more restricted in this regard. The second difference is time management – the judges in Western jurisdictions take it very seriously. In our system the two or three-month delays for minor reasons are too common. This actually discourages many people from seeking justice, even in serious cases. The third difference is the fact that our judges rely on experts who are the ones to read all the related documents. In Europe the judges read the files themselves.

GI: How would you describe the current state of Bahrain’s legal industry?

AA: Our legal industry is doing fine and I believe it will even improve in the coming years. There are many unresolved disputes that have been continuing for the last few years, which are now starting to go to court, as their Statutes of Limitations are about to expire. Plus, Bahrain’s population has increased, so naturally there are more issues. Our legal system, however, has a serious administration problem. We need to improve our resource management.

For instance, all the summonses for the particular day are scheduled for the same time in the morning. That means some

40 people show up in the court at the same time, forced to wait long hours for their hearing, and if they’re not present when their turn comes, the hearing gets delayed for a month.

GI: How does Bahrain’s legal industry compare to other jurisdictions?

AA: It is much stronger than that of our neighbours’. The only one that comes close is Dubai, with their new laws. If you want thigh, too. We are very weak in admin, but our judges are extremely respectable.

GI: What would you describe as your proudest achievement?

AA: The most recent achievement I would like to recall relates to investment banking, where many people’s funds were misappropriated in a so called Private Placement Memorandums (PPMs) scam. It’s a great feeling to be able to recover the money from people who took it without legal rights, and return it to our clients. We were the only firm who refused to approve PPMs back when almost all the other law firms were making huge profits on doing so. We deemed PPMs illegal right from the start, as they were targeting people who did not have the capability to assess whether the investment was good or not. And then, we found a provision in our law that guaranteed full refund for each and every stakeholder.

GI: Most valuable lesson learned?

AA: I’ve learnt that as a lawyer I am directly involved in social engineering, which comes with responsibility. If the law defines ‘shouting at someone’ as assault, it will affect how people interact with each other; harsher penalties for parking violations will make drivers change their habits on the road. I also learnt that law education is very empowering, as you are fully aware of your rights.

GI: How do you charge for your services?

AA: It depends on the case type. The industry norm is either charging hourly or with a fixed fee. If you’re doing transactions, you can charge based on the success. My preference is a fixed fee, although it may be better for the client than the firm, if the case takes longer than initially estimated. However, it also prompts the firm to speed up the process to avoid that.o compare the judiciary, we rank really

GI: What would you describe as your proudest achievement?

AA: The most recent achievement I would like to recall relates to investment banking, where many people’s funds were misappropriated in a so called Private Placement Memorandums (PPMs) scam. It’s a great feeling to be able to recover the money from people who took it without legal rights, and return it to our clients. We were the only firm who refused to approve PPMs back when almost all the other law firms were making huge profits on doing so. We deemed PPMs illegal right from the start, as they were targeting people who did not have the capability to assess whether the investment was good or not. And then, we found a provision in our law that guaranteed full refund for each and every stakeholder.

GI: Most valuable lesson learned?

AA: I’ve learnt that as a lawyer I am directly involved in social engineering, which comes with responsibility. If the law defines ‘shouting at someone’ as assault, it will affect how people interact with each other; harsher penalties for parking violations will make drivers change their habits on the road. I also learnt that law education is very empowering, as you are fully aware of your rights.

GI: How do you charge for your services?

AA: It depends on the case type. The industry norm is either charging hourly or with a fixed fee. If you’re doing transactions, you can charge based on the success. My preference is a fixed fee, although it may be better for the client than the firm, if the case takes longer than initially estimated. However, it also prompts the firm to speed up the process to avoid that.


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