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07 August 2003 | David Arminas
Purchasers buying assets in Iraq should ensure the seller has the right to dispose of them or risk being caught in a legal nightmare.
Christopher Hill, a partner in legal firm Norton Rose, warned delegates that the laws on ownership established under Saddam Hussein's regime remain in place according to international law.
"The legality of use of Iraqi assets and resources by the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) may be open to questions later on," he said.
"Although the United Nations recognises the CPA, it has no legality to change local law. It cannot change rules concerning ownership of assets, can't privatise government companies and can't enter into long-term construction contracts on behalf of a future Iraqi government."
Purchasers may have to deal with the CPA-appointed, Iraqi-led Governing Council if it is recognised as a legitimate government by the UN.