Non-Kuwaiti lawyers can practice in Kuwait, but with certain limitations. Foreign lawyers can work in companies, law firms and even the public sector, but they can’t own a legal agency or even be partners in them. “Expat lawyers can stand in front of the judge only in certain fields of the law and in certain instances. Practically, they can only defend rental cases, which have only two instances, except for a few special cases when they reach the cassation court,” attorney Mubarak Mijzea told Kuwait Times.
“In civil or commercial cases, a foreign attorney can stand in front of the judge in cases that have a financial claim of below KD 1,000. In these fields, he can attend the court session and defend the case, but only in the first instance and not in the appeals phase,” added Mijzea.
Expat lawyers can’t hold the title of “lawyer” as they are not registered at the Kuwait Bar Association, whose membership is only open to Kuwaiti lawyers. “Expat lawyers are not allowed to practice the profession officially at the court, but they can be consultants, legal assistants or have other related titles,” he pointed out.
A law firm or agency can be owned only by a Kuwaiti lawyer. “An expat lawyer can’t own a law firm – even a Kuwaiti citizen who is not a lawyer can’t do so. An expat lawyer can unofficially own the law firm by registering it in a Kuwaiti attorney’s name and have a subcontract with him to ensure his rights. He can’t even be a partner in the same way expats are in commercial companies, in which they can be partners with shares up to a maximum of 49 percent,” concluded Mijzea.
Expat attorneys can work in private companies in a wide range of fields – mostly commercial. Expat lawyers working at law firms usually do most of the consultation work and write defense notes which the Kuwaiti lawyer will present at the court. If there is a shortage of Kuwaiti lawyers in a law firm and they have a lot of cases, then the expat lawyer takes the file to the court and gives it to any Kuwaiti lawyer at there to represent him in front of the judge.
By Nawara Fattahova