DIFC Courts handled more, and more valuable, cases in 2016

Part of the rise in cases was attributable to the courts' opt-in clause, which lets parties outside the free zone use the DIFC's legal services.

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The value of cases handled by the DIFC Courts grew 5 per cent to Dh5.85 billion last year, with surveys suggesting increasing numbers of companies based outside the freezone are opting to use the courts’ services.

The number of Court of First Instances (CFI) cases listed on the courts’ website rose to 42 during last year, compared with 31 in 2015. The average value of CFI cases heard during the year rose 17 per cent to Dh104.58 million, according to data supplied by the courts.

“In a challenging year for the world economy, the DIFC Courts’ proven dispute resolution expertise was once again highly valued by the business community,” said the DIFC Courts chief justice Michael Hwang.

A survey conducted by the DIFC’s Dispute Resolution Authority Academy of Law found that 57 per cent of 122 commercial legal practitioners involved with cross-border transactions in the Middle East reported using the DIFC Courts’ opt-in clause, enabling parties based outside the free zone to opt to use its legal services in cases of dispute resolution and arbitration.

The DIFC Courts’ Small Claims Tribunal handled claims totalling Dh20.16m in 2016, up 5 per cent year-on-year, with the average claim rising 4 per cent year on year to Dh92,902.​

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