In a legal precedent, the Council of Ministers issued two sets of executive instructions on October 15 for a single law, Investment Law No. 2 of 2023. These regulations were issued through two separate decisions bearing the numbers 1575 and 1576.
While no Syrian official has explained why two sets of executive instructions were issued, it appears that the reason is that the new Investment Law No. 2 of 2023 effectively replaced two previous laws; it amended the old Investment Law No. 18 of 2021 and repealed the Real Estate Development and Investment Law No. 15 of 2008. Theoretically, the new executive instructions broadened the scope of investment to include real estate development and investment. However, in practice, Decisions No. 1575 and 1576 sometimes repeat the same ideas differently, which may lead to conflicting interpretations during implementation. It would have been sufficient to simply issue one of the decisions, adding the different articles from the second decision.
As an example of potential conflicts between the two sets of executive regulations: Decision No. 1575 applies to the following projects: those established by a private sector investor alone or with public sector entities; those established based on public entities offering their properties for investment by the private sector or by joint public-private sector entities outside the scope of the public-private partnership law; and real estate development and investment projects. Meanwhile, Decision No. 1576 applies to real estate development and investment projects carried out on state-owned properties and those executed on a property developer’s real estate. This means that Decision No. 1575 is more comprehensive than Decision No. 1576. However, the latter does not add any significant legal or practical value.
Another example illustrates the overlap and conflict between the two sets of regulations: Decision No. 1575 allows public entities to implement real estate development and investment zones either by themselves or in joint ventures with real estate developers. Decision No. 1576 specified two methods for implementing real estate development and investment projects: by contract between the public entity and the real estate developer either amicably or through a tender.
Furthermore, Decision No. 1575 distinguished between the responsibilities of the public entity and the real estate developer during the implementation of infrastructure and public utilities, while Decision No. 1576 placed the responsibility of implementing infrastructure and public utilities in the project area solely on the real estate developer.
The duties and obligations of the real estate developer and investor also intersect and branch out between the two sets of instructions, whether before the implementation of the real estate development and investment project or during its various stages until its completion. These differences are presented without apparent justification. Decision No. 1575 outlines some duties and rights of the developer, while Decision No. 1576 repeats some of these duties and rights and adds more.
Issuing two separate decisions with executive instructions for a single law may just be administrative chaos and bureaucracy. However, it could also be intentional to leave room for contradictory legal interpretations and applications in different cases.
This could open the door to administrative and judicial disputes. For example, Article No. 17 of Decision No. 1575 gives the Higher Investment Council the authority to issue special regulations to define the legal relationship between the real estate developer and the administrative entity responsible for the real estate development and investment area. It includes the powers, duties, and rights of both parties. Decision No. 1575 does not specify a deadline for issuing these regulations. This means that the matter is left to the council’s discretion, which may not issue these regulations and leave the matter pending, or it might issue and later amend them, as the text of the article does not restrict the council. Meanwhile, Decision No. 1576 includes the rules governing the relationship between the real estate developer, the administrative entity, and others.