Expert Insight

Safe Port In Stormy Waters . Arran Dowling-Hussey

Kuwaiti businesses (and individuals) who trade/invest, or wish to trade in Europe, may be concerned by the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union on the 31st of January, 2020. At the time of writing there remains considerable uncertainty over the economic and legal framework that will follow this step. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government is as of October, 2020 still trying to negotiate the United Kingdom’s future trading relationship with the European Union.   There is a transitionary period until the end of December, 2020 and failing progress on the negotiations between the sides there may be what is known as a ‘no-deal Brexit.’ In specific cases Kuwaiti individuals and businesses may benefit from trading/investing in one of the other English speaking member-states of the European Union. The present uncertainty in the United Kingdom may be best avoided for some.

In the following comments it is assumed that from the middle of 2021 that international travel will be broadly similar to what prevailed prior to March, 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic commenced. At the time of writing, similar to the position in a number of countries around the world, anyone flying into Ireland (including Kuwaiti nationals) has to isolate for 14 days after landing. The remarks below as stated look forward to a time where it is hoped that most of the present restrictions have been removed. That said as has become common around the world most professions and businesses in the Republic of Ireland have embraced the use of internet-based platforms. Therefore more could be done from the gulf region online than would previously have been the case. Many Irish businesses and professionals would be happy to discuss preliminary issues by email or through using a common video conferencing platform.

There are two English speaking member states of the European Union. The Republic of Ireland and the Republic of Malta. The advantages of the latter country fall outside the scope of this article. The Republic of Ireland is a neutral common-law English speaking jurisdiction which is a member of the European Union (‘EU’), Council of Europe, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (‘OECD’) and United Nations. It is a stable parliamentary democracy with a population of just under 5 million people. There have been 5 Irish governments in the last 20 years all of which have been coalition governments. However, all of these governments have lasted for several years and by the standards of the continent have been formed relatively quickly.

The Republic of Ireland enjoys good telecommunication and transport links. At the time of writing there are no direct flights from Ireland to Kuwait City but from 2016 to 2019 Kuwait Airlines flights to New York City stopped off in the West of Ireland at Shannon Airport. There are however established routes from Dubai and/or Abu Dhabi to Dublin with the former being just under a 2-hour flight from Kuwait City. Alternatively, anyone flying from Kuwait to London who then wishes to go on to Dublin has a wide range of connections from several London area airports to choose from. The latter connecting flight into the Republic of Ireland takes about 45 minutes. Details on how to apply for a visa to visit Ireland can be found on the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs website.

Certain components of the cost of living are cheaper in Dublin, and other Irish cities, than in London. Dublin is a city of just under 1.5 million people whereas London is 6 times larger. In a city of 1.5 million within a country of 5 million some expenses are less than in the larger neighbour which is about 13 times the size of the Republic of Ireland. Professional advisory fees are not as expensive in London. Other costs are the same or more than in London. There are depending on the circumstances and the particular expenditure savings that can be made in the smaller country. As a case in point the average price of a house in London at the end of 2020 is STG£650,000 (approx. KWD 260,000) whereas in Dublin it is about half that at around STG£330,000 (approx. KWD130,000).

The Republic of Ireland is a stable developed parliamentary democracy in Western Europe which would be a good base for investment in the European Union region. Any individual or business investing in another country will of course be mindful that there is a risk of becoming involved in disputes. The Irish court system is open and transparent with a good international reputation. Commercial disputes that are in excess of €1 million (approx. KWD360,000) can be dealt with in Dublin’s fast track Commercial Court. The court through rigid case management procedures and promotion of mediation sees most disputes resolved within 3-4 months. There is also a well-established framework in the Republic of Ireland which promotes Alternative Dispute Resolution. A number of ADR bodies promote the individual processes such as arbitration, mediation and more recently construction adjudication. These organisations such as the Ireland branch of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (‘CIArb’) both promote dispute resolution methods and also provide training and seminars to their members. The effect of this and other steps is that there is a cohort of experienced arbitrators and mediators practising in Dublin. There formally was no great tradition of retired judges sitting as ADR neutrals but in the last 5 years or so this has changed.[10] Dr. Hamish Lal, a partner in the London office of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP noted-


‘I’m familiar with both the London legal market and the Dublin legal market where I am a visiting professor at University College, Dublin. I have advised a number of clients from the GCC. Kuwaiti individuals and businesses investing in or trading with Europe who have a focus on a base in an English language jurisdiction need bespoke legal advice. In certain circumstances Dublin may afford some business and investors in Kuwait advantages that might not be available in London. In other cases, London will be best. Care needs to be taken to explore the relevant circumstances and get individual advice.’


So, it can be seen that the Republic of Ireland may be a safe port in stormy waters for some Kuwaiti individuals and businesses that are looking to trade and invest in an English-speaking country in Europe

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 The author is a member of the Bar of Ireland and is able to comment on the points raised herein about the Republic of Ireland but has no qualifications to comment about the merits of Malta.

The present Irish government was formed after 4 months following the February 8, 2020 election. Whereas in Belgium in October, 2020 a government came in to office after 2 years of negotiations between that countries political parties see inter alia:/ (accessed on October 1, 2020)

The Republic of Ireland is one of the 19 countries out of the 27 strong European Union which used the Euro. The average price of a house in Dublin in Euros is approximately €360,000. All exchange rates quoted are approximate and broadly accurate as of October 1, 2020)

 Until recently the majority of judges in the Republic of Ireland had worked as barristers before becoming judges. There is no system of barristers’ chambers in Dublin as is seen in other countries and Irish judges therefore did not rejoin their old chambers to work as arbitrators and mediators.


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