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Hedda Legal Consultancy (Dubai Branch) v Hecta Services [2017] DIFC SCT 118

Hedda Legal Consultancy (Dubai Branch) v Hecta Services [2017] DIFC SCT 118

June 11, 2017

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Claim No:  SCT 118/2017

          THE DUBAI INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL CENTRE COURTS

 

IN THE COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE

BETWEEN

HEDDA LEGAL CONSULTANCY (DUBAI BRANCH) 

                                                                                                                                     Claimant

and

HECTA SERVICES

Defendant


ORDER WITH REASONS OF SCT JUDGE NASSIR AL NASSER


UPON this claim having been called on 6 June 2017 for a Jurisdiction hearing before SCT Judge Nassir Al Nasser, with the Claimant’s representative and the Defendant attending;

AND UPON the parties failure to settle the claim by 8 June 2017;

AND UPON the parties consent for the Jurisdiction Application to be dealt with on paper;

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED THAT:

1.The Defendant’s Application to contest jurisdiction is denied.

2. The DIFC Courts has Jurisdiction to hear and determine this claim.

Issued by:

Nassir Al Nasser

Judicial Officer

Date: 11 June 2017

At: 12pm

SCHEDULE OF REASONS

1.The Claimant filed a claim in the Small Claims Tribunal in respect of a legal fee incurred in the sum of AED 76,400.00, in the course of acting as the Defendant’s legal representative before the DIFC Courts.

2. In response to the Claim, the Defendant filed an Acknowledgment of Service contesting the Jurisdiction of the DIFC Courts on the basis that: is it not a Dubai Registered entity (as per the Trade License provided); there is no agreement between the parties to bring a claim to the DIFC Courts in case of a dispute; the Claimant is not a DIFC Registered entity; the Claimant’s instructing solicitors are a RAK Free Trade Zone Registered entity; and the Claimant is erroneously reliant on bringing this action against the Defendant based on its assumption that the Defendant has submitted to the jurisdiction of the DIFC Courts in the matter of CA ***/****.

3. The Defendant also submits that it always acted as agent for the body corporate as duly appointed and/or authorized body corporate manager in proceedings brought against it in the DIFC Courts by a Unit owner, from a DIFC registered body corporate (namely Heck Building); expecting Heck Building body corporate to reimburse and/or pay for the attendant legal costs thereof.

4. The Claimant submits that the Defendant contested jurisdiction of the SCT on the basis that the Defendant is not a DIFC Registered entity and there is no agreement between the parties to be subject to the jurisdiction of the DIFC courts. Furthermore, the Claimant submits that although neither party is a DIFC registered entity, this does not necessarily mean that the DIFC Courts has no jurisdiction.

5. The Claimant’s submissions also rely on Article 5 of the Judicial Authority Law (Law no. 12 of 2004, as amended by Law No. 16 of 2011); in particular, sub-clauses 5(1)(b) and (c).

6. The Claimant argues that it has acted as the Defendant’s legal representative by appearing before the DIFC Courts, in particular, appearing before the Court of Appeal. Therefore, the claim is to seek payment in respect of the unpaid invoice arising from its appearance before the DIFC Courts in the DIFC. Furthermore, it is submitted that the claim also arises in respect of a contract performed in part within the DIFC pursuant to Article 5(1)(b) of the Judicial Authority Law. In addition, the claim also arises in respect of a transaction performed within the DIFC and is related to DIFC activities pursuant to 5(1)(c).

7. The jurisdiction of the DIFC Courts is determined by Article 5(A) of the Judicial Authority Law, Dubai Law No. 12 of 2004, as amended, which provides a number of limited gateways through which the DIFC Courts have jurisdiction over a claim, which are, as relevant:

“(a) Civil or commercial claims and actions to which the DIFC or any DIFC Body, DIFC Establishment or Licensed DIFC Establishment is a party;

(b) Civil or commercial claims and actions arising out of or relating to a contract or promised contract, whether partly or wholly concluded, finalised or performed within DIFC or will be performed or is supposed to be performed within DIFC pursuant to express or implied terms stipulated in the contract;

(c) Civil or commercial claims and actions arising out of or relating to any incident or transaction which has been wholly or partly performed within DIFC and is related to DIFC activities; . . .

(e) Any claim or action over which the Courts have jurisdiction in accordance with DIFC Laws and DIFC Regulations. . .

(2) . . . civil or commercial claims or actions where the parties agree in writing to file such claim or action with [the DIFC Courts] whether before or after the dispute arises, provided that such agreement is made pursuant to specific, clear and express provisions.”

8. Both parties are not registered companies in the DIFC, nor did they agree that in case of a dispute the DIFC Courts would have jurisdiction to hear and determine their dispute. However, the Claimant appeared on behalf of the Defendant in legal proceedings before the DIFC Courts, as their legal representative. As such, the Claimant is claiming a sum of money related to a performance within the DIFC and related to the DIFC. Although there was no written agreement between the parties, by the parties conduct, the Defendant accepted that the Claimant would appear as its legal representative in a DIFC Courts proceeding. It is not logical for the Claimant to file a case claiming invoices related to a proceeding in the DIFC Courts at another Court.

9. Therefore, I am of the view that the DIFC Courts, pursuant to Article 5A of the Judicial Authority Law No. 12 of 2004, as amended, has the Jurisdiction to hear and determine this claim. I am also satisfied that the parties conduct is enough to establish that there is an agreement, albeit not in writing.

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