Syrian Law- Legislation Under Review

The laws cited below are currently the subject of ongoing reviews by the competent governmental authorities, which may result in either amendments being carried out or new legislation being enacted. At present, the laws are at different stages of the legislative process and it remains unclear when the relevant changes will take effect. Nevertheless, the ones detailed below are noteworthy as they are mainly derived from the Main Legislation section that will no doubt be of interest to observers of Syrian law. It is therefore worth watching whether any major developments take place in this regard. The orders in which the laws are listed below correspond similarly to how they are presented in the Main Legislation section. In the event the reviews result in new legislation or amendments being passed, updated information will be included in the Main Legislation and/ or Recent Legislation sections. In order for us to keep you notified of new updates in this section, please click here.


Local Administration Law

Legislative Decree 107/2011
  • A working group is reviewing the Local Administration Law in light of other countries’ experiences with a focus on structural reforms and responsibilities.

Consumer Protection Law

Law 14/2015
  • A committee has been formed to amend the new Consumer Protection Law barely eight months since it was enacted in order to fill in the gaps that have already emerged in its application.
  • Proposed amendments to the Consumer Protection Law to consider increasing fines for violations by ten times.

Judicial Authority Law

Law 98/1961
  • The Ministry of Justice has recently formed a committee to look into possible amendments to Law 98/1961 relating to the independence of the judiciary but it is not yet clear what recommendations it will make.

Evidence Law

Law 359/1947
  • A new draft law is expected to replace Law 359/1947 in the near future.
  • When the new Evidence Law is passed, it will seek to facilitate the litigation process to bring it more in line with modern times.
  • With this objective in mind, it is also expected to take into consideration the use of electronic means such as fax, telex and e-mail messaging for the purposes of evaluating written evidence.

Criminal Procedure Code

Legislative Decree 112/1950
  • A new draft law containing an updated version of the Criminal Procedure Code is expected to be discussed soon before it is enacted.
  • Seeing as how the current 1950 law may be regarded as inadequately conforming to modern times, the drafters of the new Code are seeking to facilitate and accelerate the criminal litigation process in order to address the current needs of the judiciary.
  • According to the Minister of Justice, the Criminal Procedure Bill requires six months (as of March 2016) of consultations with interested parties before it can be submitted to the government for approval.

Council of State Administrative Law

Legislative Decree 55/1959
  • Potential legislative reform of the Council of State is currently being considered but no new law to this effect has yet been issued.
  • The Draft Law that is expected to replace this law requires further consideration according to the President of the Council of State.
  • A special committee is holding intensive meetings to complete the bill as soon as possible.
  • After the bill is prepared, it will be submitted to the Council of Ministers for consultations and then to the People’s Assembly.
  • What is interesting is that after the bill was presented to the People’s Assembly last year, lawmakers sent it back to the Council of State with instructions to reconsider a number of its provisions.
  • The President of the Council of State has asserted that the draft law that will govern this judicial body intends to make it fit for purpose.
  • The aim of the bill is to facilitate the litigation process between the parties to a dispute so that the Council of State can resolve many lawsuits in shorter periods of time.
  • In doing so, it will simplify procedures in order to shorten the litigation process.
  • Moreover, it will aim to achieve a balance between the parties to a dispute, which should in theory work to the benefit of any person or entity bringing a case against a public body.
  • What is interesting is that after the Draft Law was presented to the People’s Assembly last year, lawmakers sent it back to the Council of State with instructions to reconsider a number of its provisions.

Arbitration Law

Law 4/2008
  • A special committee is currently studying amendments to this Law eight years after its enactment after certain shortcomings have been discovered.
  • One issue that has been debated is the role of arbitral panels alongside the courts as opposed to supplanting the latter in the dispute resolution process.
  • The committee is seeking to develop this relationship so that both these bodies complement each other.
  • The controversial exclusion of public contracts from the Arbitration Law is also being reconsidered by a committee.
  • Additionally, attention is being directed towards the arbitration centers in Syria, which have not been able to accumulate much experience since foreign investment was driven outside the country during the past five years.
  • The Minister of Justice has affirmed that amendments to the Arbitration Law will take into account global legislative standards on the one hand and international practices in the operation of arbitration centers on the other.
  • The Minister acknowledged that Syria is seeking a modern law that incorporates high standards in an attempt to meet the needs of reconstruction.

Legal Profession Law

Law 30/2010
  • A new draft legal profession law will be presented to the government for consideration.
  • The Bar Association is currently completing its final review of the draft law before submitting it to the Ministry of Justice, which will in turn pass it on to the government for the required deliberations.
  • It incorporates provisions that take into consideration recent developments in the legal profession that are expected to improve the ability of lawyers to practise the law under the current circumstances.
  • The passage of this bill was one of the main demands at the annual Syrian Bar Conference in May 2016.

Competition Law

Law 7/2008
  • The Competition Council is drafting some new amendments to the Competition Law.
  • These include filling gaps in the Law that have come to the surface seven years after it was originally enacted and enforcing strict penalties that aim to deter anti-competitive behaviour.
  • The provision regulating merger notification thresholds is expected to change. At present, mergers and acquisitions that result in a market share of more than 30% must be notified to the main body- the Competition Commission. If amended, this threshold is expected to be reduced to 25%.

Consumer Protection Law

Law 14/2015
  • A committee has been formed to amend the new Consumer Protection Law barely eight months since it was enacted in order to fill in the gaps that have already emerged in its application.

Investment Law

Legislative Decree 8/2007
  • According to the Prime Minister, the new Draft Investment Law, which plans to adapt to the new realities on the ground, is expected to be approved for enactment very soon.
  • The new bill is expected to be presented to the Council of Ministers soon for deliberations.
  • The bill will seek to unify legislation since the current Law does not include the tourism and real estate development sectors.
  • The bill, which will revamp the current Law, is being drafted to correspond to the new emerging priorities involving reconstruction brought about by the ongoing conflict.
  • Recommendations to the bill were already proposed by the Federation of the Chambers of Industry.

Tourism Investment Rules

STC Regulation 186/1985
  • The Ministry of Tourism is preparing a new investment law for its respective sector, which will be part of the general investment legislation in Syria.
  • The new law is expected to replace the Tourism Investment Rules.
  • The government is reconsidering the tax exemptions provided for in the Tourism Investment Rules.
  • Plans are currently underway to impose smart taxes on tourism projects in order to encourage investments in this sector and deter unfair tax practices.
  • The Ministry of Tourism is arguing that smart taxes will benefit the tourism sector and the Ministry of Finance by increasing revenues to the Public Treasury.
  • The Ministry of Tourism is working to establish free zones to provide facilities for touristic investments.
  • There are currently plans for four such touristic free zones, including one in Tartous province and three in Lattakia province.

Free Zones Law

Legislative Decree 18/1971
  • A new law governing free zones in Syria is presently under review and will take into consideration the economic effects that the conflict has had on them.
  • The General Establishment for Free Zones has recently passed on the final draft of the law to the Ministry of Economy and Foreign Trade and is awaiting its response.
  • The new law is expected to focus on promoting industrial investments and the creation of new free zones.
  • At the same time, the government is planning on establishing two new free zones in the provinces of Suwaida and Rural Damascus.
  • The draft aims to make the Syrian free zones more attractive and more competitive with their counterparts in neighbouring countries.
  • There is no doubt that this can only be accomplished if the conflict first comes to an end.

Expropriation Law

Legislative Decree 20/1983
  • A new expropriation law is expected in the near future to give effect to the ‘real value’ compensation provision in the Constitution.
  • According to the Constitution, private ownership is protected against expropriation except where it is in the public interest and in return for just compensation that is equivalent to the real value of the property.
  • Expropriations have hitherto been implemented according to fixed valuations set in the past that have left a number of owners with undervalued compensatory amounts.

Property Investment Law

Law 15/2008
  • The General Commission for Real Estate Development and Investment has completed its final amendments to this Law.
  • These changes will take into account the reconstruction and rehabilitation demands of the country with a focus on setting up real estate development zones in appropriate areas.
  • The amendments are being discussed with developers, investors and other interested parties both inside and outside Syria.
  • In the real estate development sector, there are currently 45 licensed companies and 23 areas designated for investments.
  • A real estate expert has warned that this Law is being amended with a view to benefit certain companies during the reconstruction period.

Agricultural Relations Law

Law 56/2004
  • The Minister of Justice has formed a committee to study amendments to Articles 106 and 110 of this Law, which touch on contractual issues between parties involved in agricultural businesses.

Banking Secrecy Law

Legislative Decree 30/2010
  • The Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Justice have been discussing instances where banking secrecy provisions can be waived and whether amendments to the law are necessary under the current circumstances.

Currency Transaction Law

Legislative Decree 54/2013
  • A new draft law that aims to protect domestic transactions in Syrian Pounds has faced several delays so far.

DSE Listing Rules

DSE Regulation 505/2010
  • The Syrian Commission on Financial Markets and Securities, the capital markets authority, is considering changes to the DSE Listing Rules.

Insurance Law

Legislative Decree 43/2005
  • The Ministry of Finance has recently initiated deliberations on a new law for the insurance sector that would consolidate all legislation in this field into one comprehensive document.
  • Significant revisions to the current Law will address shortcomings experienced in the past decade.
  • Once enacted, it is expected to facilitate the entry and exit of insurance companies in and out of the market respectively.
  • While the Syrian Insurance Supervisory Commission hopes to have the new Insurance Bill prepared this year, concern looms over its drafting as not all the players agree on the priorities to be pursued in this piece of legislation.
  • The Minister of Finance had earlier defended his handling of the drafting of the new Insurance Bill, particularly the composition of the committee charged with overseeing the process.
  • There have been concerns as to whether the committee sufficiently represents all the interested parties in this sector.

Employment Law

Law 17/2010
  • The government is planning to enact a new unified employment law.
  • Amendments to this Law will include additional benefits to employers and employees who have been affected by the current crisis such as where the implications have meant that businesses have had to cease or partially cease their operations.
  • Changes that are expected in the bill include an annual increase in salaries and wages that will be authorized by law as opposed to the provisions presently in force, which leave it to employers and employees to agree on this issue.
  • The Ministry of Labour has announced that the amendments to the Employment Law are expected to be completed before the end of 2015.
  • It now appears that 90% of the amendments have been completed by the Ministry of Labour, which is also waiting on the Ministry of Administrative Development to complete its part of the legal review.
  • The Ministry of Administrative Development has announced that the committee charged with amending this Law plans to submit its respective bill to the People’s Assembly in March 2016.

Public Employment Law

Law 50/2004
  • The reasons for amending the Public Employment Law include improving the living conditions for public sector employees as well as ensuring that they are recruited for the positions that match their qualifications.
  • A seminar has recently been held to discuss the draft amendments to the Public Employment Law.
  • The Minister of Labour reported that the relevant amendments to this Law are almost complete and should be reviewed and decided upon by the government by early December 2015.
  • According to the Minister of Labour in December 2015, the amendments are expected to be forwarded to the People’s Assembly by the government in the coming period.
  • According to the Minister in February 2016, there are no obstacles to the passage of the bill as the only issue holding it up relates to salaries, which will be resolved soon.
  • In March 2016, the Minister confirmed that the Public Employment Bill was in the final stage of drafting before being submitted to the government for final approval.
  • The Minister confirmed that the bill would have gone to the People’s Assembly sooner but for the delay caused by the matter of public sector salaries, which required a redrafting of the bill.
  • According to the Minister in April 2016, the Public Employment Bill in its final form is on the government’s table.
  • While it is unclear at this point, there appears to be a strong drive to incorporate the system for paying public sector salaries into the bill.
  • Concerns have emerged about the revised legal provisions covering public sector salaries and the financial burden they may incur.
  • The Minister of Labour has previously held that the amendments to the Law will solve a number of problems dating back to 2004.
  • In addition, the Minister of Labour has hinted that the bill will tackle problems brought on by the crisis in Syria that the current legislation does not address.
  • As well as filling in the gaps in the current Law, it will comply with the relevant provisions of the Constitution of 2012, which came into force after the original Law.
  • The changes will specifically cover recruitment, job allocations depending on the qualifications of employees, promotions, salaries and salary ceilings, family allowances and so forth.
  • According to the Ministry of Labour, the legal revisions covering public sector employees are intended to further guarantee their rights and increase their salaries.
  • The bill will re-examine the procedures for recruiting public sector employees, which are usually done by conducting competitions among candidates.
  • The bill lays down four categories as opposed to the current five for the purposes of recruiting employees through competitions.
  • The amendments will also touch on the matter of temporary workers employed in the public sector and include conditions for offering them permanent job security in the public sector.
  • The Minister of Labour has confirmed that the issue of temporary workers will be addressed in the bill.
  • One of the changes expected to be ushered in is the raising of the age of retirement to 65 years instead of 60 years.
  • There is an ongoing debate about the benefits and drawbacks of raising the retirement age in the Public Employment Bill from 60 years to 65 years.
  • The bill will also address the conditions of employees who have been kidnapped throughout the conflict in Syria.
  • The security situation in Syria has revealed gaps in the Public Employment Law as employees anticipate amendments to address their concerns.
  • Problems faced by public sector employees include kidnappings, lay-offs and interruptions to work caused by the ongoing conflict.
  • It is expected to increase the percentage of public sector employees with disabilities to six percent.
  • Debate has also centred on the controversial Article 137, which gives the Prime Minister considerable authority to dismiss public sector employees. The point of contention surrounding this provision stems from the thousands of state employees who were fired based on potentially false rumours pertaining to their character and performance. In this respect, the power of the Prime Minister is expected to be a source of deliberation among lawmakers in the People’s Assembly who will decide its fate as part of the package of draft amendments.

Social Security Law

Legislative Decree 92/1959
  • The Ministry of Labour has recently announced plans to push through an amendment to this law in order to increase the maximum pension amount.
  • The amendments to this law will include a provision that permits the General Establishment for Social Security to invest freely in various sectors.

Public Procurement Law

Law 51/2004
  • Amendments to this Law have been in the works for years but nothing has been passed yet.
  • However, the changes that are anticipated will take into consideration the prospects for reconstruction.
  • One of the concerns with the current Law is that it may have facilitated corruption between the public and private sectors.
  • The issue of annexes to public procurement contracts is regarded as one of the main drawbacks to the Law and is in need of reform.
  • Price fluctuations are also expected to be addressed in the ongoing review since this has been considered a major problem for the last few years during the conflict.
  • Price breaks have also been brought up as a shortcoming in the Law since it is not explicitly addressed in its provisions.

Civil Society Law

Law 93/1958
  • This Law is the subject of a legal review that may result in new legislation, which would aim to loosen certain governmental restrictions on the operation of civil society organizations.
  • The Constitutional Committee in the People’s Assembly approved the new Draft Civil Society Law in the summer of 2015.
  • The Minister of Social Affairs informed the People’s Assembly in February 2016 that her Ministry is continuing work on the bill.
  • In March 2016, the People’s Assembly began discussing the bill while consulting with the Bar Association regarding its provisions.
  • If passed, the new law is expected to regulate the increasing number of non-governmental organizations that have sprung up around the country in recent years in response to the ongoing conflict.

Income Tax Law

Law 24/2003
  • The Ministry of Finance has announced that amendments to this Law have been completed.
  • The Ministry of Finance is considering draft legislation to impose a unified income tax, which would see fixed lump-sum income taxes on profits and salaries abolished.
  • The tax brackets proposed are set to range from a minimum of 10-12% and will not exceed a maximum limit of 25%.
  • In addition, a committee set up by the Ministry of Finance is considering changes to the Income Tax Law to ensure touristic businesses declare their actual earnings to the General Commission for Taxes and Fees.
  • Taxation problems relating to touristic businesses stem from the fact that some two-star establishments charge prices that are applicable by their four-star counterparts.

Capital Gains Tax Law

Law 41/2005
  • The government has approved a bill amending this law, which will use actual real estate market valuations to assess tax liabilities as opposed to the current position that utilizes out-of-date property valuations.
  • Since the passage of the Capital Gains Tax Law in 2005, these tax liabilities have technically become fees paid as a percentage of outdated real estate valuations in conveyances as opposed to a capital gains tax resulting from real property sales in the traditional sense.
  • A proposal that would have updated the real property valuations to reach market rates in order to calculate these fees was rejected in 2010.
  • However, it might be more forthcoming today as a result of the increases in real estate prices in safe areas of the country.

Customs Law

Law 38/2006
  • While a new draft customs law that takes into consideration new developments in this area was already published, the Ministry of Finance is still completing work on the draft that is expected to replace the current Law.
  • As of March 2016, the Customs Directorate reported that the Customs Bill will be passed soon.
  • There have been calls to amend the Customs Law to correspond to the needs of the current exceptional circumstances so that penalties are fair and at the same time deter wrongdoing.
  • The complaints at the moment are that the Law is contradictory and radical in some areas while legislative reform should focus on combating smuggling.
  • The new law is expected to incorporate the Smuggling Laws in effect provided for in Legislative Decree 13/1974 and Legislative Decree 42/2008.
  • One of the objectives of the new Law may be to grant customs courts criminal as well as civil jurisdiction in order to ease the burdens on the judicial system.
  • Previously, the administrators of the customs courts were studying a proposal that would grant them the power to hear smuggling claims after they had been adjudicated by the criminal courts in accordance with the Smuggling Law provided for in Legislative Decree 13/1974.
  • In that instance, the customs courts would only have the authority to grant compensation while the criminal courts would apply penal sanctions.
  • As of March 2016, the President of the Federation of Syrian Chambers of Commerce confirmed claims by merchants that they have not seen the final draft yet.

Stamp Duty Law

Legislative Decree 44/2005
  • This Law is currently under review with the objective of increasing revenues to the Public Treasury.

Money Laundering Law

Legislative Decree 33/2005
  • The present legal regime that seeks to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism is set to undergo a comprehensive review.