Deals of the Week: Free legal advice offered by DIFC Courts

DIFC Courts launches the Middle East's first pro bono programme, plus Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank customers can now top up their Salik accounts through their mobile banking service.

The DIFC Courts' pro bono scheme will offer free legal advice to companies and individuals linked to the Dubai-based free zone. Sarah Dea / The National
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Companies with legal concerns can have their woes solved for free thanks to a new initiative from the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Courts.

On February 16, companies or individuals linked to the free zone can receive free advice from a team of top lawyers through the DIFC Courts' pro bono programme.

The clinic, the first of its kind in the Middle East, is the latest initiative from the DIFC Courts following the increase of its powers last year.

The Dubai Government overhauled the commercial legal system in the emirate in October, allowing any company to take a dispute to DIFC's English-language common law justice system as opposed to Dubai's Arabic civil courts.

Previously, only companies based in the DIFC or ones that had an issue related to the free zone could settle disputes there.

While the first pro bono clinic is only open to DIFC-related cases - such as a printing company based in the free zone that is owed money from a client, or anyone with an issue with their bank - the DIFC aims to offer more of the sessions and open them up to the wider business community.

"We are always looking for ways to make the DIFC Courts' world-class standard of justice accessible to all and our pro bono programme, which was one of the first in the region, has been one of the most important initiatives to support this goal," says Amna Al Owais, the DIFC Courts' small claims tribunal registrar, judge and pro bono programme leader.

"Our first pro bono clinic is a milestone event for our pro bono programme, but it is also an advancement for the accessibility of justice in the UAE."

The clinic will be staffed by volunteer lawyers from UAE-based companies who will advise those with appointments on their dispute and whether they have a case for pro bono representation.

To book an appointment, call 04 427 3333 or go to for more information.


Customers of Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) can now top up their Salik accounts and check their balance with the lender's *161# mobile banking service.

The mobile service uses Etisalat's Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) technology, which allows customers to securely add credit to their Salik account from home or overseas.

According to ADIB, the top-up service can be accessed through any mobile phone by dialling *161#.

"It does not require any special downloads or software installations," ADIB says, adding that the service will soon be available through internet and phone banking.

For more information, go to