Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 16 June 2010: The DIFC Courts, the Dubai International Financial Centre’s (DIFC) independent, common law judicial system, has today received the decree from H.H. Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai appointing a new Chief Justice, Michael Hwang SC, following the decision of former Chief Justice Sir Anthony Evans to retire. A new Deputy Chief Justice has also been appointed, Justice Sir Anthony Colman, who will move into Justice Hwang’s previous role.
Sir Anthony Evans steps down after five years of overseeing numerous achievements at the DIFC Courts, such as the development of a Pro Bono scheme, aimed at offering free, accessible justice to all, the Small Claims Tribunal and its subsequent expansion, and a Professional Code of Conduct which ensures a high standard of legal representation for all DIFC Courts users. Sir Anthony has also overseen the introduction of the Urgent Case handling facility and the Electronic Case Management System as well as playing a key role in signing the various Memorandums of Understanding as well as Jurisdiction and Enforcement protocols with the Dubai Courts.
Justice Michael Hwang, SC was appointed as the Deputy Chief Justice of the DIFC Courts in April 2005 and brings extensive experience with him to his new role as Chief Justice. He was a partner in Allen & Gledhill, the largest law firm in Singapore from 1972 and served as the Head of its Litigation and Arbitration Department for 10 years. In 1991 and 1992, he served as a Judicial Commissioner of the Supreme Court of Singapore (a full time post, equivalent to the office of an acting High Court Judge) and in 1997, he was appointed as one of the first 12 Senior Counsel (SC) of the Supreme Court of Singapore (a status equivalent to that of Queen’s Counsel (QC) in England). Between 2000 and 2003, he served as a Commissioner of the United Nations Compensation Commission (UNCC) based in Geneva, a body set up under the Security Council to assess claims against Iraq arising from the First Gulf War. Since 2003 Justice Hwang has practised as an independent Barrister and Arbitrator and is a world renowned international arbitrator with a global practice. He is President of the Law Society of Singapore and is Singapore’s non-resident Ambassador to Switzerland.
The new Deputy Chief Justice, Justice Sir Anthony Colman, was appointed as a Justice of the DIFC Courts in January 2008. In his distinguished career, he served as a Judge of the Commercial Court in the High Court in London, from 1992 to 2007 and held the position of Judge in Charge of the UK Commercial Court from 1996-1997. Deputy Chief Justice Colman is specialised in commercial litigation of all kinds, particularly international oil and gas industry disputes; international sole agency, sole distributorship and joint-venture disputes; primary insurance and reinsurance disputes, including marine and aircraft insurance; international banking and credit disputes; commercial fraud; and cases involving issues of American Law.
Speaking about his new role, Michael Hwang, Chief Justice of the DIFC Courts said: “It is a great honour for me to accept this position at the DIFC Courts. Over the past few years, as Deputy Chief Justice, I have seen Sir Anthony Evan’s significant work firsthand and have thoroughly enjoyed working closely with him. We look forward to building on the foundations that have been laid during his tenure, and the high regard in which the DIFC Courts are held, both locally and abroad is a testament to Sir Anthony’s efforts, and for that we thank him. Sir Anthony’s contributions have been immense; and we are looking forward to building on his groundbreaking work.”
“We have a diverse and very experienced judicial bench at the DIFC Courts, and I look forward to continuing to work with them. Together with the other courts in the UAE, the DIFC Courts have an extremely important role to play in providing transparent and efficient justice to all who come before our Courts.” he continued.
Sir Anthony Evans, the retiring Chief Justice added “The DIFC Courts can now provide a service to the same high standard as in those different jurisdictions and our aim is to continue to do so, for the benefit of the DIFC, of Dubai and the UAE, and throughout the Gulf region generally. In 2009 alone, for example, the Courts introduced a number of regional firsts most notably, the introduction of a Pro Bono scheme, which is one of a kind in the region, ensuring that justice is even more widely accessible and balanced. Likewise, we have been the first in the Middle East to introduce a Professional Code of Conduct, to which all practitioners registered with the Courts must abide, a move which will ensure the highest standards of legal representation for all DIFC Courts’ users.
The automated recording and transcription service and the online, automated case management system aimed at enhancing the efficiency of the Courts’ operations have further streamlined and expedited case progression at the DIFC Courts. All these developments have served to promote access to justice and to create a world-class, efficient, transparent and fair judicial system and I am in no doubt that such successes will continue during Justice Hwang’s tenure. It has been a great honour to serve as Chief Justice at the DIFC Courts and I retire with a sense of pride at what has been achieved in the last five years. These achievements are down to all of the efforts of the team at DIFC Courts who have accomplished so much and I am sure will continue to accomplish much more.”
Justice Sir Anthony Colman, the new Deputy Chief Justice added: “DIFC Courts has since its inception in 2005, sought to deliver justice in the most efficient and transparent manner possible, and Sir Anthony Evans has been a driving force in this.
As the volume of cases being brought before the DIFC Courts continues to grow, Chief Justice Hwang and I, along with the team led by the Courts’ Registrar, Mark Beer, will do our best to ensure that the judicial service provided by the Court is of the very highest standard.
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