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13 October 2012 — Access to Justice: DIFC Courts and LexisNexis introduce first awards to help those in need

13 October 2012 — Access to Justice: DIFC Courts and LexisNexis introduce first awards to help those in need

October 13, 2012


Gala Dinner celebrates the First “Pro Bono” Justice Programme in the Middle East

Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 13 October 2012: The DIFC Courts, Dubai’s English language, common law judicial system, in partnership with LexisNexis, hosted the first gala dinner to celebrate, and raise funds for, the DIFC Courts’ Pro Bono Programme. The Programme is the first-of-its-kind in the Middle East, an example of Dubai’s innovation in, and commitment to, access to justice. The inaugural Access to Justice Awards were given to four registered volunteer firms: Kilpatrick Townsend Legal Consultancy, Clyde & Co., Kennedys Dubai, Emirates Advocates and one individual, Khadija Ali of Afridi & Angell, in recognition of their support of the Programme at case representation level and their involvement at the Clinic service.

It was also announced at the dinner that the time committed to volunteering on the programme would be eligible towards Continuing Professional Development (CPD) for solicitors of England & Wales.

Based upon benchmark models in the UK and Singapore, and shaped by Courts’ users’ guidance and public consultation, the Courts’ Pro Bono Programme was established in 2009 to provide a platform for equitable access to justice in the UAE. Since its establishment, it has offered many litigants, who would not otherwise have been able to afford it, the highest standards of commercial dispute resolution guidance and services.

The Programme’s volunteer register currently stands at 30 firms and it was opened to individual lawyers who practise in-house, earlier this autumn. A Pro Bono Programme Clinic initiative was launched in February of this year and the four clinics held to date have proactively brought free legal advice to those that need it most. Funds raised at Thursday’s dinner will go towards backing more frequent Clinics and raising awareness of the Programme within the legal community and the potential applicant base.

Amna Al Owais, Founder and Leader of the Programme and Deputy Registrar of the DIFC Courts said: “The DIFC Courts’ Pro Bono Programme has come a long way in a short space of time and we are all very proud of the accessible and high quality justice it is providing to those in need. However, we need more qualified lawyer volunteers and more funds to maintain the momentum created to date. We are focused on expanding the Clinic service next year, in order to reach even more worthy applicants.”

Chief Justice Michael Hwang of the DIFC Courts said: “Dubai is to be applauded for its early innovation in this area and the example it is setting for the rest of the region. Fostering a pro bono spirit amongst the legal community is a crucial step in attaining access to justice for all — and that is just one reason why Thursday’s event was so important.”

Hussain Hadi, Head of Middle East Publishing, LexisNexis, added: “It is an honour to support the DIFC Courts Pro Bono Programme; a partnership in line with our work on similarly innovative and socially responsible legal projects worldwide.”



For more information please contact:

Maram Alkadhi
Capital MSL
Tel: +971 4 367 6160

About DIFC Courts

The UAE’s DIFC Courts administer a unique English-language common law system — offering swift, independent justice to settle local and international commercial or civil disputes. The Courts, based in Dubai, provide certainty through transparent, enforceable judgments from internationally-recognised judges, who adhere to the highest global legal standards. The DIFC Courts are independent from, but complementary to, the UAE’s Arabic-language civil law system — offering a choice that strengthens both processes while ensuring public access to world-class justice.

In October 2011, a decree of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, opened the DIFC Courts’ jurisdiction to businesses from all across the GCC region and beyond to provide the international business community with access to one of the most advanced commercial courts in the world.

The DIFC Courts were established under laws enacted by the late HH Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai in September 2004. The laws establishing the DIFC Courts are designed to ensure that the DIFC Courts provide the certainty, flexibility and efficiency expected by Court users. Nearly 500 cases have been resolved through the DIFC Courts since 2006, while over 90% of Small Claims Tribunal cases are concluded within three weeks. The Courts’ community-focused approach encourages early settlement, while their successful track record supports Dubai’s growing status as an international business hub.

In line with HH Sheikh Mohammed’s vision, the DIFC Courts serve to develop the UAE national workforce and enhance the competitiveness of Emirati advocates. The DIFC Courts are spearheading training programmes predominantly aimed at local Emirati lawyers, which offer knowledge of, and qualifications in, the English-language common law system.

For more information on the DIFC Courts, please visit:


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