BSA Bin Shabib, Al Rashdi & Al Barwani (BSA), and Zubair Small Enterprises Centre (Zubair SEC) recently completed a workshop and legal clinic on January 15 at Bait Al Zubair. The legal clinic offered free consultations for a number of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) operating in the Sultanate and saw the participation of 8 lawyers and legal experts from BSA.
Commenting on the success of the initiative, Mundhir Al Barwani said, “We are extremely glad to have witnessed a huge turnout for the legal clinic, which was conducted with the main aim of providing free assistance to business owners with regards to some of the legal challenges they face. This programme has been vital in emphasising our commitment to the community, so that they may play an integral part in developing their businesses for the benefit of the country. We are also grateful to Zubair SEC and hope to be a part of many more of their community-based activities in the future, and subsequently provide the requisite support to SME’s to the best of our ability.”
Batoul Ali Al Abdawani, an entrepreneur in private education, had a query regarding the contracts of foreign teachers and the minimum notice period that employees are legally obligated to provide before leaving their jobs. This was so because teachers were leaving their jobs without giving any prior notice, and without a replacement being arranged. The lawyers at BSA explained that the Omani law specifies a minimum 30-day notice period. However, both (the school and teachers) can agree on other periods as required, that are binding for both parties.
Ali Al Rashdi, Manager of an emerging company that is active in the field of maintenance services, had some queries about commercial contracts between the company and clients related quick services on short notice, which often have smaller costs associated with them. SMEs such as his end up suffering in commercial disputes with clients regarding these small payments, which are often too small in size to take to courts. These disputes in turn result the company losing out on these payments altogether. The answer the lawyers provided was that the contract itself is a binding agreement between the two parties and in such cases the companies have to resolve the dispute in court. However, avoiding the problem altogether is a better solution, doing so by clearly defining any details regarding the costs of such products and services and subsequently obtaining the customer’s prior approval before carrying out a job.
One of the participants that attended the event said, “It was a truly enlightening experience and I learnt quite a lot with regard to legal matters pertaining to my business. Most SME owners like myself, are unable to seek proper consultation due to the exorbitant rates we are charged. This in turn hampers our business strategy since we cannot obtain advice from any other source.”
“Through the legal clinic I was able to clarify all my doubts about issues I have faced while running my business. I truly liked the idea of such a clinic and look forward to similar workshops and legal clinics in the future. They are extremely helpful for up and coming business owners in Oman, such as myself, and to increase public awareness in general,” added another business owner that attended.
Ali Shaker, Advisor – Business Development & Strategic Partnerships at Zubair SEC said, “As one of the leading support centres in Oman, this programme reinforces our efforts to continually offer distinctive services to entrepreneurs and SME owners. The first of its kind legal clinic was a perfect platform for SME owners to keep themselves updated on recent developments, as well as become familiar with legal aspects pertaining to their businesses. It does so alongside the support of a team of high-calibre lawyers, each of whom have profound experience in the legal framework of the Sultanate. We are also proud to work together with BSA, one of the leading legal firms in the region, without whom this initiative would not have been such a success.”
AbdulAziz Al Rashdi, the local partner of BSA, said, “The majority of these challenges were related to commercial laws, how to adhere to consumer protection laws, how to formulate contracts and pay attention to details that may change their legal meaning, labour laws concerning SME owners, how to enter government tenders, and other such related issues. We were delighted by the interaction we witnessed between the lawyers and business owners at the event. It was encouraging to see how helpful this workshop has been to budding entrepreneurs in overcoming the legal challenges they face when starting up their businesses. As such, we will most definitely consider repeating this workshop again in the future.”