DIFC Courts establishes new arbitration working group

A panel of experts will be tasked with supporting and sharing developments and will include an advisory team

The Dubai International Financial Centre Courts has set up a new arbitration working group – the first of its kind in the region – as it looks to accommodate the rising number of arbitration-related cases.

A panel of experts will be tasked with supporting and sharing developments and will include an advisory team of arbitration professionals, bodies, centres, educational institutions and industry-related organisations, DIFC Courts said in a statement on Saturday.

"As a court, it is not our intention to compete with the arbitration industry, but rather to complement the service offerings of arbitration centres,” DIFC Courts Chief Justice Zaki Azmi said.

"Our long-term vision is to work closely with as many experts and industry-specific organisations to gain a better understanding of how we can adjust and modify our court services to better assist those with arbitration-related disputes.”

The latest development follows the establishment of an arbitration division earlier this year, which is chaired by Justice Shamlan Al Sawalehi.

The establishment of the new division has helped streamline arbitration-related cases and increased efficiency of process, DIFC Courts said. The courts can also empower the arbitration division to "leverage existing enforcement expertise, helping to ensure certainty of recognition and enforcement of arbitral awards,” it said.

Legal firms can use the DIFC Courts’ provisions by including its jurisdiction into their contracts for dispute resolution. For arbitration-related disputes, the DIFC Courts can also function as the “default” seat or supervisory court.

DIFC Courts recorded a 96 per cent surge in cases at its main Court of First Instance during the first six months of 2020, as the financial free zone's judiciary continued to operate remotely to deliver judgments amid the Covid-19 movement restrictions.

The total number of cases in the six months to June 30 at the main Court of First Instance (CFI) reached 53, while the total value of cases, including arbitration-related cases, amounted to Dh2.2 billion during the period.

Cases brought before the CFI covered a range of sectors including banking and finance, construction, real estate and manufacturing.

There was also a significant increase in the number of ‘opt-in’ cases for the first six months of 2020, with over 70 per cent of claims in the CFI and arbitration-related cases originating from parties choosing to use the DIFC Courts to resolve their disputes.