The American Business Council Kuwait- AmCham Kuwait, in collaboration with Dar Almizan Legal Consultants (DMLC), organized a virtual webinar titled: Know Your Legal Rights, COVID-19 in Kuwait, on Monday, April 13.
Over 150 people tuned into the seminar which covered a variety of topics such as Force Majeure and Emergency Situation, Kuwait Labor Law, and Commercial and Residential Lease Agreements.
The webinar was presented by Ola Saab, Head of International Department at DMLC. In her opening remarks, Saab greeted all attendees and then proceeded to introduce the topic of Force Majeure and explain if the current partial shutdown can be classified as force majeure as opposed to an emergency situation.
She then proceeded to examine the implications of both scenarios on businesses and the legal proceedings that can follow. Adding onto that, Saab discussed in depth different articles of Kuwait Labor Law and how they apply to the current situation due to COVID-19 and highlighted the rights and obligations of employers and employees during this period. “An employer cannot force employee to sign on unpaid or paid leave for the shutdown period from March 15, 2020 to April 12, 2020 (Official Vacation) and from April 12, 2020 to April 25, 2020 (Rest Period),” Saab explained.
Further, she provided insight regarding what happens in the event that an employer forces an employee to sign documents or settle to any arrangement against an employee’s interests, and the legal steps that can be taken. She also drew on Court Precedents re Labor Law and Emergency Situation, underlining previous examples of emergency situations such as the Iraqi invasion, and how it panned out legally in terms of pre-existing contracts and obligations. Saab then moved on to discuss the Commercial and Residential Lease Agreements, specifically Decree No.35 of 1978 regarding Lease of Real Estate.
She discussed whether it is permissible for a tenant to refuse to pay the rent and the implications that would follow. For example, she highlighted how the best course of action for a tenant is to set up a mutual agreement in writing with the landlord to delay or reduce rent for a certain period of time rather than refusal to pay.
“While a landlord does have the right to evict a tenant for non-payment after serving them an official notice, they do not have the right to cut off electricity and water. If this happens, tenant can contact police station in the area where the premises is located and police will restore electricity and water,” explained Saab.
Following that, Saab gave an overview of recent updates to laws and new relevant regulations. She then provided insight into what to expect in the future regarding adjustments to regulations and policies. She then concluded the session by opening up the floor to a Q&A, in which she entertained questions from the participants. ABCK is a non-profit organization comprised of American corporations, small and medium sized companies, and prominent business leaders and entrepreneurs, both American and Kuwaiti. Since 1985, the American Business Council of Kuwait Ltd (ABCK) has acted as an advocate for American companies in the State of Kuwait.
By Dalia Badih