Iraq Legal Profile

Proelium Law LLP

Iraq Legal System Overview

Iraq’s legal system contains both civil law and Sharia law, as well as statutes and regulations. The Iraqi Constitution of 2005 is supreme and any legal text that contradicts the Constitution is ‘considered void’. It also guarantees the territorial unity of Iraq. Islam plays a key role within Iraq’s legal system: laws which contradict established provisions of Islam may not be enacted, and Islam acts as a foundation source for legislation.

The independence of the judiciary is guaranteed by Article 87 of the Constitution. The Iraq Federal Judiciary oversees the affairs of the federal court system which comprises ordinary civil, labour, personal status and criminal courts, including the Central Criminal Court. The Supreme Court is made up of judges who are ‘experts in Islamic jurisprudence’, and is responsible for interpreting the Constitution and determining the constitutionality of new laws and regulations; it also acts as a final court of appeals. Constitutional and statutory law is prevalent in court proceedings, but in the absence of legislation courts adjudicate according to custom, and in the absence of custom a ruling should be made in accordance with the relevant principles of Sharia. This is enshrined in the Civil Code.

Corruption is less amongst the judiciary than other parts of the State, such as the police, owing to higher wages. Nevertheless, the judiciary is still plagued by corruption, as is the Interior Ministry and Justice Ministry. Furthermore, judges and lawyers remain vulnerable to tribal or ethnic pressures as well as fearful of repercussions in cases involving personal status or criminal and anti-terror law. The Iraqi Criminal Law Code, Law 111 of 1969, and Law 93 of 2004 address corruption offences such as bribery and money laundering.

The antiquated Civil Code of Iraq is a primary source of Contract Law and forms the core of the commercial legal system, defining contractual law, obligations, and validity amongst others. The Iraqi Commercial Code of 1984 further regulates matters relating to businesses including trade names, registration, financial transactions as well as terms for international sales, whilst the Iraq Companies Law of 1997 governs the types on companies allowed in Iraq, as well as their formation, management and dissolution. Whilst domestic arbitration is well established, the law is inconsistently applied and commercial cases can drag on for months or years. The enforcement of contracts is problematic owing to corruption and unclear regulations; it takes an average of 34 days and 9 procedures to enforce a contract in Iraq. There are further laws in effect in the Kurdistan Region that may affect commercial dealings such as the Law of Investment in Kurdistan Region and the 2007 Oil and Gas Law.

Iraq is a signatory to a number of international treaties including the Geneva Conventions and Protocol One, the Biological and Chemical Weapons Conventions, the United Nations Convention against Corruption and the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States, which established the International Centre for Settle of Investment Disputes providing a mechanism for foreign investors to settle disputes.

Iraq is also a member of a number of multinational organisations including the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Arab League, Organisation of Oil Exporting Countries and has requested accession to the World Trade Organisation.


Iraq’s Constitution of 2005,



Need advice?
If you’d like further information, or to discuss working with us, you can get in touch via our Contact Us page or making an enquiry below.

Drop us a message

To learn more about our legal services kindly reach out by completing the form on the right. 

Alternatively, you can contact our office at +44 (0) 20 3875 7422 or leave us a message.

Our team of experts is looking forward to assisting you with your legal needs.

Need advice?

Please get in touch via our Contact Us page