Value of claims at DIFC Courts hit $1.6bn in 2021

The courts handled 747 cases across all divisions last year

The number of cases last year at the main Court of First Instance (CFI) reached 147. Sarah Dea / The National
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The Dubai International Financial Centre Courts handled 747 cases in 2021, with the total value of claims reaching Dh6.1 billion ($1.66bn) as it focuses on dealing with disputes related to the digital economy.

Total value of enforcement claims filed surged 108 per cent annually to Dh2.3bn in 2021, with 239 such cases recorded, DIFC Courts said on Tuesday.

“The reputation of DIFC Courts as a safe harbour and business gateway continues to mature. The original and purest foundational mandate [for DIFC Courts] remains to promote Dubai and the UAE’s geographic position in the Gulf as a significant strategic advantage for international investors,” said Justice Omar Al Mheiri, director of DIFC Courts.

In December, DIFC Courts set up a special court to deal with disputes related to the digital economy, with an aim to simplify the settlement process of complex civil and commercial disputes within the emerging sector.

The Specialised Court for the Digital Economy will also deal with disputes arising from current and developing technology, it said at the time.

The digital economy contributes about 4.3 per cent to the UAE's gross domestic product, which is equal to Dh100bn, figures from Dubai Chamber for Digital Economy show.

The new court will assign a group of international lawyers and industry experts to draft and approve new rules for the digital economy court this year, the DIFC said.

It will cover fields including big data, blockchain technology, artificial intelligence, cloud services, unmanned aerial vehicles, 3D printing technology and robotics.

DIFC Courts is improving the user experience by “adopting smart technologies, automated processes and state-of-the-art courtroom communications equipment”, said Zaki Azmi, chief justice of DIFC Courts.

“This has also played a key role in supporting the increasing international caseload.”

In 2021, the number of cases at the main Court of First Instance (CFI) stood at 147, with a total value of Dh3.8bn and average value of Dh46.7 million, including arbitration-related cases and those in the technology and construction division (TCD).

Cases brought before the CFI spanned sectors including banking and finance, construction, technology and property. They involved disputes related to breach of contract, insolvency, arbitration agreements, employment and public international law.

The Small Claims Tribunal recorded 361 cases in 2021, driven primarily by breach of contract (representing 62 per cent of all cases), followed by employment (22 per cent), property and tenancy (13 per cent), and banking and finance (3 per cent).

The total value of claims recorded in 2021 stood at Dh36.9m, with an average case value of Dh106,000.

DIFC Courts' services last year were also boosted by several co-operation agreements it signed with entities across the public and private sectors, it said.

It continues to “generate the best from litigation, arbitration and mediation to provide a new, more modern set of procedures for resolving disputes”, said Mr Azmi.

Updated: February 22, 2022, 11:24 AM