ADGM Courts offers pro bono service amid Covid-19 outbreak

Legal firms in the financial free zone will provide free advice on civil and commercial disputes filed in the centre to clients with limited financial means

FG81FD View of new business district at Abu Dhabi Global Market square (ADGM) on Al Maryah Island in Abu Dhabi United Arab Emirates. Alamy

Abu Dhabi Global Market Courts, the courts system for the UAE capital’s financial free zone, is beginning a pro bono legal assistance scheme providing free legal advice for people with limited financial means.

Under the scheme, pro bono clients can access advice on their rights and obligations regarding civil and commercial disputes filed within the court’s jurisdiction, but it is not available for criminal, family or inheritance issues.

The services will be provided by volunteer lawyers from firms operating within ADGM, either through consultation sessions at a Pro Bono office at Al Maqtam Tower on Al Maryah Island, or through a Legal Assistance Helpline for more urgent issues. The helpline is currently the method being used for all consultations during the current Covid-19 outbreak.

“We are committed to providing world-class dispute resolution services to all of our community members, regardless of their financial status,” said Lord David Hope, chief justice of ADGM Courts. “Coming out of these challenging times, we may see an increase in enquiries from individuals seeking legal advice on their rights and obligations. The Pro Bono Scheme comes just in time as we continue our focus on supporting the growth of a progressive, equitable, transparent and accessible judicial system in Abu Dhabi, the UAE and the wider Mena region."

ADGM and all of its authorities, including the ADGM Arbitration Centre, have remained fully operational throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and have continued to provide services throughout.

ADGM Courts has had an eCourts Platform since 2018, allowing for cases to be managed digitally in real time from anywhere in the world. It also set up the world’s first electronic hearing room, a fully digital courtroom, allowing cases to be heard remotely, in the same year. ADGM Courts said the initiative has saved hundreds of participants countless hours and legal fees.