17 April 2007
Remarks of Deputy Chief Justice Michael Hwang at the Opening of the DIFC Courts on 17 April 2007
First, may I on behalf of the DIFC Courts express our sincere thanks to Chief Justice Andrew Li for gracing this occasion with his presence. It is not entirely coincidental that representatives from two of the major Asian financial centres (namely Hong Kong and Singapore) are present today at this opening, and we believe that his participation in these proceedings is symbolic of where Dubai is positioned in today’s financial markets. It is also the precursor of the co-operation that all of us hope will be manifest between these three great financial centres in Asia, particularly in the judicial area.
I want to develop a point made by Chief Justice Li in his address. He spoke of the benefits of interaction between the common law courts in international financial centres. DIFC well recognises these benefits, which is why it has chosen its first two judges from different parts of the common law world, one from the UK, a second from Singapore and the remaining judges from a variety of countries. The internationality of this court cannot be over-emphasized, yet in this diversity there will always be the uniformity of the common law
But the common law, although originating from England and Wales, is no longer Anglocentric, which is at least one of the reasons why the legal system in DIFC has a common law base. It has been developed by other users in other parts of the common law world far away from England, and modified to suit local conditions. But the DIFC Courts will always take English law as our starting point because the English Commercial Court has led the way in developing the rules of the common law into internationally accepted principles of commercial law. Nevertheless, we in the DIFC Courts will critically examine those principles to see whether they meet the needs of the society which we serve or require adaptation in the light of local conditions
In that regard, we will look to the experience of the other common law countries, with the benefit of our multinational bench of judges, and will arrive at solutions which we believe are best for DIFC. We will be guided by decisions from jurisdictions such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, the Indian sub-continent, Hong Kong and Malaysia, and hope that, in our own small way, we will eventually also be able to contribute to the jurisprudence of the international common law world.
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