Legal Environment

flag Syria Syria: Legal Environment

In this page: Business Contract | Intellectual Property | Legal Framework of Business | International Dispute Resolution


Business Contract

General Observation
Economic security plays a capital role in the Syrian economy, notably in the real estate or agriculture contracts, building (mortgage or company's contract), trade, consumer's credit, etc.
Law Applicable to the Contract
In spite of the important reforms to attract new FDI, the Syrian legal system is still marked by the procedures and decisions taken in an arbitrary way. The legal system undergoes through lack of transparency, promptness and efficiency and it still functions in an individual case basis. This is the reason why the contract established between the foreign company and the Syrian entity is extremely important. The legal actions that could follow are usually settled by negotiation or arbitrage.
Other Laws Which Can Be Used in Domestic Contracts
The languages mostly used in international contracts are Arabic and English.

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Intellectual Property

National Organisations
Syria's legal system recognizes and facilitates the transfer of property rights, including the rights of intellectual property (law approved in February 2001 and it includes computer programs, books, films, and other creative works). Syria is one of the member countries of the Paris Convention, of the World Intellectual Property Organization since May 2004 and has established the Syrian Association for the intellectual property in 2005. A previous registration of intellectual property rights is required in order to follow up any infringement. Patents are valid for a 15 year period (renewable) under the condition that the invention must be used for two years.
As far as copyright is concerned, most of the books published in Syria are written in the Arabic language and are written by Syrian authors. There is a legal vacuum in this field and the country's authorities seldom punish possible counterfeiting. There are counterfeiters who record CDs, videos, etc. Video cassettes are 100% copied but there are few repercussions on the economy as such. However, it is advised that the persons victimized by this kind of phenomenon should avoid legal pursuit of the authors of fraud, since the cost of legal action is often higher than the possible compensation delivered in a legal suit. As for trademarks, they are registered for a period of 10 years and the first applicant is the proprietor of the trademark. A new law was established in March 2007 in order to regulate registered trademarks, industrial models and logos.
International Membership
Member of the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization)
Signatory to the Paris Convention For the Protection of Intellectual Property

National Regulation and International Agreements

Type of property and law Validity International Agreements Signed
Law n°47 of 1946, amended by legislative decree n°28 of 1980.
15 years (renewable). Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT)
Legislative decree n°28 of 1980.
10 years. Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks
The Implementing Regulation of Trademarks,
Geographical Indications and Industrial Drawings and Designs Protection Law
Berne convention For the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works
WIPO Copyright Treaty
Industrial Models
Law /8/ 2007 on Trademarks, Geographical Signs and Industrial Drawings & Models
5 years.  

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Legal Framework of Business

Equity of Judgments

Equal Treatment of Nationals and Foreigners
Foreign nationals cannot expect an impartial trial from the country’s judicial system.
The Language of Justice
Arabic is the judicial language used in the country and the laws are only drawn up in Classic Arabic.
Recourse to an Interpreter
Having an interpreter is possible.
Legal Similarities
The main source of law in Syria is the constitution of 1973. The country’s legal system is based on a combination of the French and the Ottoman civil laws. Religious law is used for all that concerns family rights. Syria has not accepted the mandatory ICJ jurisdiction.

The Different Legal Codes

Consult the database of  the American Library of Congress All the Syrian law texts.
Checking National Laws Online

The Jurisdictions

The Supreme Constitutional Court The authority that rules the entire judicial system. The Supreme Constitutional Court is composed of a Chief Judge and four judges nominated by a presidential decree for a period of four years.
Civil Court It is the justice court which stands for civil and minor crimes. There is one court in each of the 14 districts.
Criminal Court It is a bench court for the most serious crimes. There is one in each district along with a court of appeals and a court of cassation.
"Personal Status Matters" Court Courts qualified to deal with matters regarding personal status:  Tribunal of the Sharia for the Sunni and Shiite Muslims, Tribunal Madhabi for the Druzes and Tribunal Ruhi for the Christians and Jewish.

Court Officials

They represent the accused or the victim. They can appeal a decision at the Court of Appeal or at the Court of Cassation. However, the appeals are difficult to win because the courts do not provide a transcription of the debates.
They preside over the courts. There is not a jury. The trials are public, except those that involve minors or sexual offenses.

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International Dispute Resolution

Syria established its first arbitration law in March 2008: the law No. 4. This law established the first system for the settlement of conflicts. It allows to choose between a local or an international arbitrator and it opened the way to the creation of the first center of arbitrage. This law has greatly improved the chances of solving conflicts in Syria.
Arbitration Law
Before the law of March 2008, Syria had signed in June 2005 the Washington international agreement for the solutions to conflicts in investment (Washington International Convention on Investment Dispute Settlement in June 2005). Syria is also a signer of the New York Convention on Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Awards.
Conformity to International Commercial Arbitration Rules

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Latest Update: March 2024