Abdulaziz Al Rashdi, lawyer and partner of BSA Muscat, recently took part in the Oman Business Law Forum on November 26. The forum was organised by the Omani Lawyers Association and LexisNexis Middle East, in cooperation with the Omani British Lawyers Association. Held under the auspices of HE Dr. Abdullah bin Mohammed Al Saidi, Minister of Legal Affairs, the forum provided participants with knowledge and insight into legal matters, alongside an opportunity to meet existing and potential clients, enabling them to gain more exposure in the Middle East legal market.
Commenting on his participation, Al Rashdi said, “The Oman Business Law Forum is the perfect platform to know more about various legal developments, especially the changes to the Omani Penal code and its subsequent implications to local businesses and investments. It is our second participation in this leading event and we are extremely pleased with the positive responses we received from all the attendees. With enriching discussion on various topics related to the law, we hope to encourage similar events and reach out to more people working in the legal sector of Oman.”
At the forum, Al Rashdi discussed the latest changes to the Omani law as compared to the previous version of 1974 and how it affected the business community in Oman. He also highlighted various amendments to the old law that arose after developments in the local business environment, including the introduction of several new fields and modern technologies.
“It was necessary to revise some of the legal text and adapt it according to all the changes that have taken place since, thus making it relevant in the current business environment and in the future as well,” Al Rashdi added.
Abdulaziz spoke indepth about the latest changes to the Oman Penal Code which places a high standing on personal privacy. The Code stipulates that acts such as intentional eavesdropping on a telephone calls, recording or transmitting conversations via a electronic devices, as well as taking or sharing pictures of a person or group of people without permission can land a person in jail for up to three years.
Employees are also assured greater protection from harassment in the workplace as anyone who insults or threatens an employee during his or her career, can face up to one year’s imprisonment.
In this era of ‘fake news’, Oman has taken steps to prevent the spread of false rumours by introducing an imprisonment term ranging from three months to three years for anyone who intentionally circulates false news or rumours either in Oman or abroad that will undermine status of the state and negatively impact on its financial markets. The punishment may be increased to ten years if the crime occurs during a state of emergency or time of war or natural disaster.
In a bid to deter corruption, harsh penalties are placed on public officials, those found guilty of embezzling funds face up to three year’s imprisonment, dismissal from their job as well as a permanent ban on holding public office.
Any individual who facilitates the entry into the country or assists any enemy of the state by providing information or assistance will face the death penalty.
It is important to highlight the fact that Article 2 cancels the Oman Penal Law promulgated by Oman Sultani Decree No. 7/1974 and all that contradicts this (new) law or contravenes its provisions. The new Omani penal code is comprehensive and aims to protect both individual rights as well as national interests.
Due to its initial success, the second edition of the forum saw the presence of 150 people from the Omani legal and business community, including legal heads, lawyers, general counsellors, wealth management advisors, compliance officers, public officials, and corporate secretaries.