Sir Anthony Colman divides his time between London and Dubai as an international arbitrator. Pawan Singh / The National
Sir Anthony Colman divides his time between London and Dubai as an international arbitrator. Pawan Singh / The National

Dispensing justice in the DIFC Courts

Sir Anthony Colman divides his time between London, where he works as an international arbitrator, and Dubai, where he acts as the deputy chief justice of the Dubai International Financial Centre Courts. He describes a typical day dispensing justice.

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I get up. I was invited to become a judge before I retired from the high court in London. I thought about it, and what I thought was it was such an interesting venture that I ought to do it. We have pre-designated periods of one week, and I come for my particular week on the roster whenever it is, probably about once every four months.


I leave for court. It takes exactly seven minutes to walk from the hotel lobby to the court. I know that because I have developed a shortcut which involves going across the grass land in between the motorways and up to the gate.


I arrive at court. There will be papers to read beforehand, maybe not for that case that I am hearing that day but maybe paperwork in relation to other cases.


I am in court … They are all commercial cases. [It could be] a dispute about a contract for the sale of commercial property or something like that; disputes about banking contracts; the duty of a bank to give advice to a customer; all those sorts of things. You … have to concentrate quite hard, and if you sit longer than 4.30pm … which I have to do sometimes to finish a trial or hearing that particular day because I have something else the next day or I am leaving Dubai, you feel quite tired at the end of it. I do not remember the detail of cases. My mind has an automatic delete button because I have so many arbitrations and other things going on all the time that I just delete the rest.


Lunch. I walk across to the hotel and then back again.


We start again. Sometimes I form a preliminary opinion; sometimes it's no opinion, because it's too complicated. It's only when you get to the end of everything, when you have all the final submissions, and I go back to London and come to a conclusion.


Court finishes. Usually there is more paperwork to do. Sometimes I make notes about the hearing that I have just had, but sometimes I just do paperwork for the following day, or files for the following day. I am an international arbitrator and a lot of arbitrations I hear, I hear in London, so that's where I spend most of my time. In most of the judgements that I have had in Dubai, I have written them in London. We try and get the judgements out in two months at the end of the hearing.


I get back to the hotel. Sometimes I take stuff back to the hotel and work on it before dinner, but not after. I have a drink, a club [soda], read the newspapers and usually go out to dinner. It depends if I have a guest or someone has invited me out.

11.30pm to 1am

I go to bed.

* Gillian Duncan