The Business Year

Dr. Ali Hatami

IRAN - Energy & Mining

Legal matters

Founder & Managing Partner, Hatami & Associates International Law Firm

Bio

Dr. Ali Hatami is the founder of Hatami & Associates International Law Firm. As the Managing Director and senior partner of the firm, he has centered his practice on international investment and trade law. He is a member of the Iranian Central Bar Association and a professional advisor and consultant to many prominent Iranian and foreign companies. Dr. Hatami’s practice covers a wide range of areas specializing in oil and gas, foreign investment, and international commercial contracts. He received his PhD from the University of Tehran in 2003.

TBY talks to Dr. Ali Hatami, Founder & Managing Partner of Hatami & Associates International Law Firm, on the firm's experience in providing legal expertise, the deficiencies of the legal system, and attracting foreign investment to the country.

What are the fields where Hatami & Associates has a competitive advantage over other law firms in Iran?

Hatami & Associates has consulted with Iranian and non-Iranian clients in different fields. These fields include a wide range of international trade and investment subjects. As a result of our valuable practical experience and expertise in miscellaneous fields, we supply legal services with the highest level of quality to several entities. In oil and gas, this law firm has a deep background in providing legal services in the upstream sector for well-known international oil companies and also oil services companies. The other sector is malls and hotels, as Hatami & Associates consults for the Iran Mall Complex, Farmaneih Mall, and its hotels with respect to their construction, management, operating, franchising, joint-venture, distribution, M&A activities, and all other aspects of corporate law. We have also provided legal consultancy services for renewable energy, power plants, infrastructure projects, and refineries.

What are the main difficulties foreign companies might encounter when doing business in Iran?

Generally speaking, legal, political, economic, administrative, and monitoring deficiencies are the problems that undermine the activities of foreign companies in Iran, and thus increase the risk level for these companies. The most important problems are that some laws and regulations are not comprehensive, transparent, or supportive. It is also important to consider the political conditions and the negative effects of numerous sanctions. Moreover, the instability of laws, policies, and short-term governmental programs add to the already inefficient administrative and executive systems. Finally, the lengthy and ineffective dispute resolution procedures within the judicial system represent another difficulty for foreign firms. However, Hatami & Associates has a long background in providing legal services to foreign clients engaging in international commerce or looking for investment opportunities in Iran. We have a wide range of knowledge and valuable experience in the various laws and regulations in different fields and the administrative and legal processes and deficiencies in Iran. Therefore, we can accurately interpret the legal provisions and aid in ongoing legal procedures. In this line, this law firm has efficiently been able to apply its knowledge and experience in drafting, negotiating, and finalizing contractual documents.

What is your assessment of the maturity of the Iranian legal infrastructure for attracting foreign investment after the lifting of sanctions?

After sanctions were imposed, the volume of foreign investment in Iran considerably decreased and depression emerged in various core business areas. With the gradual lifting of sanctions, commercial negotiations have commenced with numerous foreign delegates who are interested in entering Iran’s untouched markets to start a profitable business. Iranian legislation has embarked on regulating new rules and modifying existing regulations to facilitate and attract foreign investment, while giving priority to the oil and gas, mining, and renewable energy sectors. For example, newly enacted regulations in the oil and gas industry reflect the desire and flexibility of the Iranian legal system to attract foreign investment. All in all, there are some measures that should be taken by Iranian legislation that could result in an attractive market for doing business: transparency, privatization across different sectors, the ratification of international conventions, and infrastructural partnerships between local and foreign investors.

What is your outlook for the year ahead?

Considering the significant changes in the political atmosphere, namely the lifting of sanctions and the electoral wins by reformers in parliament, together with the semi-stabilization of economic conditions and newly enacted and reformed regulations, we expect diverse and fruitful opportunities for foreign companies entering the Iranian market in different sectors such as oil and gas, mining, renewable energy, petrochemicals, industry, construction, and more. With regard to this fact, we intend to increase the number of our employees in our different departments in order to meet the requirements of future clients in a prompt and efficient way.

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