Explained: What are the Committees Established under Law No. 10 and Decree No. 66

Law No. 10 of 2018, does not differ greatly from its predecessor Decree No. 66 of 2012 in terms of the seven specialised committees that must be formed to establish real estate development zones.

Law No. 10 of 2018 stipulates the creation of real estate development zones within the general zoning plans for the administrative units, while Decree No. 66 of 2012, stipulates the establishment of two development zones in the governorate of Damascus within the general plan for Damascus city. Law No. 10 amends Decree No. 66 and extends its provisions to the whole of Syria.

The procedures for creating a development zone begin with the Inventory and Description Committee, which takes stock of trees, plants, and other parts of real estate in the area. It also conducts a social survey of local residents. The governorate is responsible for forming the committee, which consists of a photographer, a surveyor and two engineers.

Based on reports from the Inventory and Description Committee, the Real Estate Appraisal Committee is then tasked with estimating the value of buildings, facilities, and trees. This body is also formed by governorate decree and is composed of five members headed by a judge with the rank of an advisor and appointed by the Minister of Justice. The other four members include two real estate appraisal experts appointed by the Minister of Public Works and Housing and two experts elected by real estate owners in the development zone to serve as their representatives. Under Decree No. 66, this committee’s decisions were considered final. However, Law No. 10 amended this measure, making such decisions subject to appeal before the governorate Civil Court of Appeal. The court’s decision is then considered final.

The Dispute Resolution Committee (DRC) has judicial jurisdiction and is also formed by the governorate. It is headed by a judge with the rank of advisor, appointed by the Minister of Justice. Other members include representatives from Cadastral Affairs and from the governorate. The decree that forms the DRC also determines the duration of its work. The DRC fields objections and claims of ownership or real estate rights over properties located within the development zone, as well as all other similar cases made before the courts in which a final judgement has not yet been issued. The DRC is granted the same power granted to the court when hearing such disputes. Its decisions are subject to appeal, with the subsequent decision issued by the Court of Appeal considered final.

The decisions of the DRC are then implemented by the Distribution Committee (DC), whose task is to estimate the value of partitioned plots of land within the development zone and distribute them as common shares to rights holders in that zone. As with the other committees, the governorate forms the DC, which is headed by an advisor judge appointed by the Minister of Justice. Members include two real estate appraisal experts appointed by the Minister of Public Works and Housing and two experts elected by property owners to serve as their representatives. The two representatives are appointed by the first primary judge in the region if elections cannot be held. The DC issues lists with the names of rights holders in the development zone, as common owners of the shares, then within a week it must submit the lists to the administrative unit. Decisions made by the DC may be appealed before the regional Court of Appeals.

The fifth committee is the Sale of Zoning Plots Committee. It is tasked with selling zoning plots that belong to common share owners who wish to sell their plots of land. Sales are conducted by public auction. This committee is also formed by a governorate decree and consists of three employees who work in accordance with the Contract Law for Public Institutions, Law No. 51 of 2004.

The sixth committee is the Follow-Up and Supervisory Committee, headed by the governor. Under Law No. 10, the tasks and number of committee members are determined within the decree to form the body. In general, this committee exercises an oversight role.

Finally, the seventh committee is the Committee to Handle Sub-Issues, headed by the Minister of Local Administration and Environment. Members include the Minister of Public Works and Housing, the governor, the mayor, and a legal expert. This committee is tasked with handling all remaining issues not covered in Decree No. 66 and Law No. 10.

Except for the Follow-Up and Supervisory Committee, the committees are all dedicated full-time to completing their tasks within a predetermined period. Under both Decree No. 66 and Law No. 10, if necessary, the governor may form committees based on a proposal of the administrative unit to carry out tasks required to facilitate work to establish the zones.