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BUSS 1004 Business Law Assignment - Middle East College, Oman

Learning Outcomes -

1. Critically analyse the implications of national and international legal environments of businesses in the Sultanate of Oman.

2. Analyse the key features of the judicial system of Oman.

3. Use appropriate sources for general legal analysis by identifying information, legal issues and reaching conclusions based on analysis.

Task - Write a comprehensive report on OMAN LEGAL ENVIRONMENT, ETHICS AND CORPORATE RESPONSIBILITY.

Answer - BUSINESS LAW Individual Assignment

A research analysis on Legal environment and the judicial system of Oman

1. Introduction

The commercial law of a given jurisdiction impacts the business environment of the country and as such influences the economic development of the same. The report in its limited scope discusses the different kinds of breach in contract along with the consequent remedies that may be claimed under the Oman commercial law. The Tanfeeth Diversification Plan 2040 has been indicated along with the concepts of business ethics, corporate social responsibility and corporate governance. The report also focuses on the pollution regulation implemented by the Oman government.

Q1. Critically discuss all the types of breach of contract that may happen and the remedies for breach of contract under Oman Commercial law. Relevant statutes should be quoted to support answers. Use an applied relevant Oman example to demonstrate your answer.

2. Types of breach of contract and the remedies claimed under the law

Types of breach of contract: The major types of breach of contract include minor breach, material breach, fundamental breach and anticipatory breach. The minor breach occurs when the affected party is entitled to damages but not performance. Material breach pertain to the failure in the performance of such component of the contract that leads to the other contracting party asking for damages. Fundamental breach causes the affected party to seek damages as well as a move for termination of the contract as well. Anticipatory breach of the contract relates to the apparent nature of the possibility of non-performance of a party to the contract (Billah 2016).

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Remedies: The remedies available in case of breach of contract include performance and damages. The contractual damages mean the pecuniary compensation for making good of the consequences suffered by the aggrieved party. Contractual losses may arise from both pecuniary damages and non-pecuniary damages. In the former instance, damages borne out of pecuniary loss include reliance-based damages, expectation based damages and gain-based damages. For non-pecuniary losses, the damages that may be awarded include restitutionary damages, punitive damages, damages for the inconvenience as well as the loss of enjoyment (Agarwal 2017).

Royal Decree: The Oman Civil Transactions Law, Royal Decree 27/2013 (Code) mentions the provisions covering the dissolution or termination of contracts. Article 99 provides for the situation wherein a binding and valid contract may be terminated. Article 100 lays down the grounds in which such contract will automatically come to an end (Abdallah 2015).

Oman example: The provisions of the breach of contract and the remedies find application especially in the construction projects in Oman. The parties enter into contract comprising of the project company and the contractors along with third parties and funders to enter into agreements for granting step-in rights in case of company default in a specific time period. In such a scenario, the funders are vested with the obligations of the project company (Klee 2015).

Q2. The law of contract outlines duties and obligations of the parties to a contract and eliminates ambiguity. Critically analyse this statement vis-à-vis the law of contract provisions quoting relevant Royal Decree. Use an applied Omani example to demonstrate the application of the law of contract in Oman.

3. Duties and obligations of the parties to a contract

Duties and obligations: The duties under a contract in Oman relates to full performance according to the conditions laid in the contract. There exists a default contractual liability in case o inability to perform the duties as long as there is no external causation outside the obligee's control on account of the non-performance. It is also applicable in case of delay in performance. Both kinds of obligation require a legal notice by the default of law (Grose 2016).

Royal Decree: Contractual law is indicated in the Royal Decree of 55/1990 along with Civil Commercial Companies law of 1974. In the recent instance, the Civil Transactions Law is initiated with the Royal Decree of 29/2013 that encompasses the general and special law of obligation (Billah 2016).

Oman example: Article 155 of the Oman Civil Code indicates that parties are bound by the terms and conditions that they have agreed upon and the duty of good faith does lead to the alteration of the contractual obligations (Klee 2015).

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Q3. You are required to interview Ithraa staff (or Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry, or Ministry of Industry and Commerce or Tanfeeth or ASYAD), to explain the status of these issues in Oman and what is the way forward for excellence in Oman?

4. Tanfeeth Diversification Plan

Legal aspects and ease of doing business: Oman's legal system is dependent on both the Islamic Sharia Law as well as the principles of the civil code. The legislartion with respect to issues falling under civil cases include the Islamic Sharia and 1996 Basic Statute of State (Basic Law). The laws and regulations cannot be in contravention to the Basic Law. In the given legal system, the Commercial Court maintains jurisdiction over commercial disputes, and since Oman is a civil law jurisdiction, the judges are empowered to interpret the agreements in the manner reflective of the original intentions of the parties (Abdallah 2015). The Oman Sultanate has ranked 78th in the ease of doing business across the world with the score of 67.19 as opposed to 67.2 in 2017. The major highlight is the ease in starting a business in the country. The ease of doing business depends on the parameters of starting the business, handling of construction permits, procuring electricity, registration of property, getting credit, protection of minority investors, efficacy in the payment of taxes, cross border trading, enforcement of contracts and resolution of insolvency (Oman Observer 2018).

Tanfeeth Diversification Plan 2040: The Oman economy is far from being diversified as it retains a majorly concentrated with revenue generated from the oil sector. The Tanfeeth Diversification Plan is framed on the backdrop of dwindling Oman oil resources with the maturing of the fields and difficult-to-extract crude oil. The predicted life span of Omani oil resource ranges from 20 to 25 years. Within the ambit of 2040 Diversification Plan, the government has laid down the road map for the improvement of multiple socio-economic areas of the country with the implementation of a broad set of bureaucratic and regulatory reforms. The government seeks to diversify the economy beyond its oil resources. The economic and development plan focuses on the creation of wealth through economic diversification and private sector partnership. It seeks to ensure balanced governorates development along with the preservation of environmental sustainability (Oman vision 2040 2019).

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Issues in meeting the objectives of Tanfeeth Plan: Customs clearance issues may prove to be an impediment in the acceleration of the flow of the goods and services. In this respect, the government has implemented the Customs Valuation Agreement and undertaken measures for further enhancement of the customs valuation system. Even though Oman is an attractive market for a number of products and goods, bureaucratic obstacles hinder the process of setting up a business. The "Omanisation" process relates to government set quotas for Omani employment. Registration of companies can also prove to be very slow, especially in cases of consultancy firms.

The company incorporation cost in Oman in the first year amount to $ 11,250, however, no such costs in the subsequent years. The average fee per Omani engagement is amount to $27, 900 which is inclusive of the company registration, annual services of a company secretary, estimation of the government costs and Omani corporate bank account. Bureaucratic obstacles along with red-tapism are hindering the business environment of the country. The major concern proves to b securing a loan, in which financiers are required to follow too many conditions from collateral to complicated business plan requirements. Licensing amounts to a major problem in that the capital requirements and the stipulations on business premises prove to be a deterrent. The Invest easy e-portal is a comprehensive suite of e-services that is designed for creation of such a system that would provide a single channel to business communities with respect to interaction with the Omani government and encompasses all the relevant steps in setting up a business.

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The government has demarcated presently three free zones in Sohar, Salalah and Al Mazunah as well as a special economic zone in Duqm. With the transfer of the logistics in the Sohar port, issues arose with respect to port handling capacities along with problems in clearance. Initiatives are being undertaken of port automation in Sohar and modernization in the freight handling capacity. The problems faced in this respect pertain to the requirement of huge capital investment and training of human resources (Diwakar 2019).

Competition for global investment funds: The competition for global investment fund of Oman among other GCC countries have become rigorous on account of below expectation economic performance of the region as it is witnessing declining growth with the lowering of oil production and a tighter fiscal policy that adversely affected the non-oil sector. The development is exerting pressure on the OPEC producers for extending their reduction agreement which negatively impacts the medium-term growth in the GCC countries.

Q4. Business ethics, corporate social responsibility and corporate governance create the human face of organisations. Critically explain these concepts and use an applied Oman company example to demonstrate good corporate governance.

5. Business ethics, corporate social responsibility and corporate governance

Business ethics: Business ethics primarily relates to adhering to such moral principles which provide the broad framework for the conduction of business along as well as its operations. It is formulated with the help of framing of the relevant business practices and policies that may mainly focus on the aspects of responsibilities of fiduciary nature, insider trading, corporate social responsibility along with discrimination and bribery among others. While specific jurisdictions may enact specific laws on account on the aspect of a generation of business ethics, companies may take initiatives as well to put in place specific guidelines for the entity to follow in order to meet public approval (Crane and Matten 2016).

Corporate social responsibility: Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) indicates such business model which is self-regulatory. Its underlying objective is to make the company socially accountable to a multitude of entities comprising of the public at large as well as its stakeholders. CSR mainly focuses on the impact that the company stands to be having on the various facets of the society including environmental, social and economic. The specific measures have been undertaken by the company within the realm of Corporate Social Responsibility, leads to such operations, which functions for the enhancement of the environment as well as society. It seeks to mitigate having an adverse impact on the same (Crowther and Seifi 2018).

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Corporate Governance: Corporate governance mainly comprise of such rules, resolutions or policies that are implemented to lead to desired corporate behaviour. The underlying objective of the concept of corporate governance is to balance seemingly opposing interests of the various stakeholders of the company that comprises of the senior management, shareholders, suppliers, investors, customers, government, as well as the community at large. Corporate governance measure encompasses almost the entire ambit of management which starts right from the formulation of actions plans to the measurement of performance and corporate disclosure norms. The corporate governance framework comprises of fair distribution of responsibilities on account of the varying contracts between the company and its stakeholders. It also set the appropriate procedures for addressing the generation of conflict of interest between the company and its stakeholders with respect to the privileges and duties. The major focus of corporate governance is put into the implementation of effective procedures for control, supervision, and flow of information in order to provide checks and balances to the corporate system (Tricker 2015).

Oman company example: Oman Investment and Finance Company (OIFC) is a leading investment as well as services providing company that deals with collection, billing and debt factoring. It operates in the sector of electricity, telecom services, and water in Oman. It has been consistently awarded for best corporate governance services in the financial sector. They attempted to attain the highest standards across its business domains relating to services, quality and compliance with the corporate governance standards (Muscat daily 2018).

Q5. Pollution has made life dangerous, risky and a threat to the human race, hence tough government regulations and penalties for pollution. If unregulated society is unethical. Critically explain how and why the Oman Government is regulating:-

(a) Marine pollution quoting relevant Royal Decree;

(b) Air pollution quoting relevant Royal Decree; and finally

(c) Noise pollution quoting relevant Royal Decree.

6. Oman government regulation on pollution

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Marine pollution: The major regulation in the for addressing marine pollution pertain to Royal Decree No. 34/74, 1974, that mentions the Law on Marine Pollution Control that demarcates the zone surrounding Oman's territorial waters stretching across an extent of 38 miles. Within this belt, the law imposes a sanction in the release of any pollutant by ships or vessels. The penalty on contravention of law ranges from a minimum of OMR 25,000 to OMR 4 million. The enforcement of the regulation is done by the officer entrusted with the responsibility of pollurion control or other official authorized by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs. The officers are vested with the power to arrest any person who had violated the relevant regulations and may be made to undergo detention (Claereboudt 2019).

Air pollution: The specific regulation enacted for addressing air pollution includes the ministerial decisions of MD 37/2001 and MD 118/2004. The former primarily relates to Regulations for the Control and Management of Ozone depleting substances while the latter is Regulations for Air Pollution Control from Stationary Sources. This regulation finds most application in case of operations of the business. The regulation mandates that the business owners will have to engage scientific methods as approved by the concerned department for reducing the pollutants emission along with their treatment and disposal. The regulation specifically prohibits burning or agricultural or organic wastes in an unsecured and non-contained manner. Smoke is also prohibited from being emitted over the approved density. The installation of the chimney will have to necessarily adhere to the stipulated specifications with respect to height and its intended usage (Yousif et al. 2017).

Noise pollution: The Omani government had implemented the Ministerial Decisions of MD 79/94 and MD 80/94. MD 79/94 relates to Regulations for Noise Pollution in the public environment, and MD 80/94 is on Regulations for noise pollution in the working environment. The combined effect of the regulations pertains to putting in place the prescription of levels of noise on the basis of the categorization in the public places. It points out the external source of noise emanates from operations of aircraft and airport along with traffic in road and noise from construction sites and industrial plants. The Ministry takes into account the differences in the levels of noise observed during holidays as well as weekdays. The stipulations are put in place only after assessing the same against international standards. It also takes under consideration the factors of temperature, velocity direction and humidity. The Ministerial decisions also focus on the imposition of noise limits in the workplace. Such noise may emanate from installations that generate noise, equipment and machinery. It mentions the regulatory criteria for vetting the levels of noise emissions during the time of operation as well as installation (Charabi et al. 2017).

Importance of regulating pollution in Oman: Pollution should be strictly regulated in Oman on account of the rich biodiversity that is possessed. The country has diverse topographic characteristics that include wide arid deserts located in the Western region and the Arabian Sea in the East. The country has a wide region of grassland with forests in the mountains located in the southern region. Due to its strict regulations, Oman is held as the most rigorously 'green' governments as it maintains the highest record in control of pollution, environmental conservation and maintaining the ecological balance.

7. Conclusion

The major types of breach of contract include minor breach, material breach, fundamental breach and anticipatory breach. The available remedies are performance and damages. The Oman Sultanate has ranked 78th in the ease of doing business across the world with the score of 67.19 as opposed to 67.2 in 2017. The Tanfeeth Diversification Plan 2040 laid down the road map for the improvement of multiple socio-economic areas of the country with the implementation of a broad set of bureaucratic and regulatory reforms. Business ethics primarily relates to adhering to such moral principles which provide the broad framework for the conduction of business along as well as its operations. Pollution should be strictly regulated in Oman on account of the rich biodiversity that is possessed.

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