Nakheel case is a win for UAE courts



Yesterday, property developer Nakheel was ordered to pay $3 million (Dh11million) in damages to its former chief executive. Chris O'Donnell sued the company, saying it had not paid him incentives and entitlements in accordance with his contract.

The verdict is a milestone for the Dubai International Financial Centre courts, set up under a 2004 law to solve financial disputes in compliance with world standards.

Mr O'Donnell sued in June, meaning his case was settled in eight months - an uncharacteristically rapid result. Such certainty and efficiency would be welcome in all of the UAE's courts, where victims of work accidents, for example, can wait years before judges issue a verdict.

Legal battles are typically long and costly in this country. Aside from the fees paid to lawyers, a court requires 4 per cent of the total amount sought in any dispute as a fee - to a maximum of Dh20,000. And each time you appeal against a verdict, you must pay 2 per cent unless you win, in which case fees are paid by the losing party. Time, money and effort makes many people reluctant to go to court at all. Such barriers often work in favour of the party with the deeper pockets.

But even if the sum at stake is deemed worth it, many are reluctant to pursue their rights for other reasons.

There is a common perception that legal cases against government or semi-government companies are "doomed" to fail. That is why many people prefer to wait for promises to be fulfilled, or simply to give in, rather than seek redress in the courts. In one case, an expatriate who paid Dh180,000 for an investment with a subcontractor with Nakheel told The National he would not file a lawsuit because he had been told it would be "futile".

Such perceptions will not change until positive examples outweigh the horror stories. Yesterday's verdict at the DIFC moves the country in that direction and offers a model for how it can be done in other jurisdictions.

Justice is not a privilege for those who can hire strong lawyers or afford high fees.

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Dresos

Started: September 2020

Founders: Vladimir Radojevic and Aleksandar Jankovic

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Fashion

Funding: $285,000; $500,000 currently being raised

Investors: Crowdfunding, family, friends and self-funding

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Kinetic 7
Started: 2018
Founder: Rick Parish
Based: Abu Dhabi, UAE
Industry: Clean cooking
Funding: $10 million
Investors: Self-funded

yallacompare profile

Date of launch: 2014

Founder: Jon Richards, founder and chief executive; Samer Chebab, co-founder and chief operating officer, and Jonathan Rawlings, co-founder and chief financial officer

Based: Media City, Dubai 

Sector: Financial services

Size: 120 employees

Investors: 2014: $500,000 in a seed round led by Mulverhill Associates; 2015: $3m in Series A funding led by STC Ventures (managed by Iris Capital), Wamda and Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority; 2019: $8m in Series B funding with the same investors as Series A along with Precinct Partners, Saned and Argo Ventures (the VC arm of multinational insurer Argo Group)

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About Proto21

Date started: May 2018
Founder: Pir Arkam
Based: Dubai
Sector: Additive manufacturing (aka, 3D printing)
Staff: 18
Funding: Invested, supported and partnered by Joseph Group

Kill

Director: Nikhil Nagesh Bhat

Starring: Lakshya, Tanya Maniktala, Ashish Vidyarthi, Harsh Chhaya, Raghav Juyal

Rating: 4.5/5

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
SNAPSHOT

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UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
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