Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 31 December 2012: A frequent concern for commercial lawyers in Dubai is the question: which legal issue belongs in which court?
In Dubai, uniquely, two legal systems operate side by side for commercial cases: the DIFC Courts’ English language common law system and the Dubai Courts’ Arabic language civil law jurisdiction. The intention has always been to offer businessmen a choice of jurisdiction when signing contracts and – where necessary – when resolving business disputes in court.
In order to tackle this matter, the DIFC Courts recently hosted the fourth and final session of their 2012 Lecture Series – a programme to encourage dialogue among all members of the UAE’s legal community. The panel session entitled ‘Which Case – Which Court?’, focused on the unique options available to Dubai-based business owners, as determined by their individual requirements, and offered guidance on complex issues.
The panel was moderated by Mark Beer, Registrar of the DIFC Courts, and featured key participants from the UAE’s legal arena, including HE Justice Ali Al Madhani of the DIFC Courts, Ali Al Aidarous, Founder of Ali Al Aidarous Legal Practice in Dubai and Richard Briggs, Executive Partner at Hadef & Partners, Dubai.
The discussion offered insights into the legal decision-making process when determining which court to select for specific types of case, such as preference of language, monetary constraints, complexity of the case and sometime subject matter.
HE Justice Ali Al Madhani emphasised the importance for Dubai residents of having a choice between the two court systems. He commented: “Every case is different and therefore has different priorities, but people are not always aware of what their options are when determining which court to go to. The residents of Dubai are lucky to have the choice of two well-established courts – Dubai Courts and DIFC Courts – that cater to various needs, and give them complete access to justice.”
Key differences between the two court systems were pointed out by Richard Briggs as he identified the DIFC Courts as a “previously unavailable island” of international common law in Dubai – one that was well-equipped to handle complex cases requiring greater time and resources, while Dubai Courts was more suitable for straightforward cases.
Ali Al Aidarous touched upon the many benefits of the Dubai Courts. He felt that, due to the high turnover in cases heard, Dubai Courts offered a cost-effective solution to resolving simpler legal disputes. He emphasised that in many situations, the established statutes of civil law were easier for litigants to understand and for lawyers to explain, than the more complex details of precedent involved in common law cases.
Mark Beer closed the session with a comment on familiarity: “We all have a tendency to be comfortable with what we know; even though it might not be perfect, we can trust that it works. Sharing such knowledge within the legal community helps increase awareness of the most appropriate course of action for different cases, heightening that level of comfort and familiarity, and resulting in smoother transactions.”
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