Skip to Content

Trans-systemia and the future of disputes

Trans-systemia and the future of disputes

May 21, 2018


By Viva Dadwal, law student, McGill University Faculty of Law-DIFC Courts Clerkship Programme

DIFC Courts’ Chief Justice Michael Hwang has called the DIFC Courts “a common law island in a civil law ocean.” Beyond co-existence, where are the bridges being built between these two legal traditions? How will these legal traditions and institutions respond to disputes of the future? These two streams of enquiry are driving the McGill University-DIFC Courts Clerkship programme.

McGill University is the oldest law school in Canada and the only Canadian law school to teach a bilingual (French and English) and bi-juridical (civil and common law) curriculum. More recently, it has pledged to integrate another critical pillar into its legal training – that of indigenous legal traditions. At the heart of McGill’s theory of trans-systemia lies the notion that no legal tradition is better than another. Indeed, the primary ambition of trans-systemic teaching is to identify fundamental juridical problems common to all traditions and subsequently imagine the appropriate legal solutions (if any).

Trans-systemic thinking also comes with a line of questioning that has future practical importance for the DIFC Courts. In 2017, in partnership with Dubai Future Foundation (DFF), the DIFC Courts announced the Courts of the Future Forum. At the launch of the Forum’s global consultation, it was noted that while future courts are still being imagined, it is more certain that they will be both global and multilingual. The first step was to begin to determine new types of rules that could underpin commercial justice in the future.

DIFC Courts have pioneered new thinking by taking a digital approach to resolving legal disputes. Leaders at DIFC Courts are bringing law and technology together to resolve the disputes of the future—for example those stemming from China’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI). With more and more disputes likely to involve multiple parties without a single physical geographical nexus, what we think we know about law is about to undergo considerable change.

In this light, the ambitions of the McGill University-DIFC Courts Clerkship programme are obvious. The DIFC Courts may be a common-law island in a civil law ocean, but they place significant importance on engaging different strands of legal orders, communities, and languages– as evidenced by the numerous memorandum agreements with civil and common law courts around the world. At the same time, as Dean Leckey of the Law Faculty at McGill University has noted, “[t]he McGill lawyer is a chameleon, able to speak and work with jurists formed in many jurisdictions and to speak their language as necessary, always knowing there may be more than one right answer, or none.”

By joining forces, these two institutions have signalled how important it is for courts and education institutions to actively learn and work side-by-side—not only to understand the important ways in which the existing civil and common law traditions may interact, but also to produce lawyers and jurists who can map new territories and navigate the changing tides of our future legal oceans.


Privacy Policy

The Dubai International Financial Centre and all its affiliates are committed to preserve the confidentiality, integrity and availability of client data and personal information.

Dubai International Financial Centre and all its affiliates employees, vendors, contract workers, shall follow Information Security Management System in all the processes and technology.

  1. DIFC Courts's Top Management is committed to secure information of all our interested parties.
  2. Information security controls the policies, processes, and measures that are implemented by DIFC Courts in order to mitigate risks to an acceptable level, and to maximize opportunities in order to achieve its information security objectives.
  3. DIFC Courts and all its affiliates shall adopt a systematic approach to risk assessment and risk treatment.
  4. DIFC Courts is committed to provide information security awareness among team members and evaluate the competency of all its employees.
  5. DIFC Courts and all its affiliates shall protect personal information held by them in all its form.
  6. DIFC Courts and all its affiliates shall comply with all regulatory, legal and contractual requirements.
  7. DIFC Courts and all its affiliates shall provide a comprehensive Business Continuity Plan encompassing the locations within the scope of the ISMS.
  8. Information shall be made available to authorised persons as and when required.
  9. DIFC Courts’s Top Management is committed towards continual improvement in information security in all our processes through regular review of our information security management system.


The content of the DIFC Courts website is provided for information purposes only and should be disregarded when making decisions on inheritance and any other matters. Whilst every reasonable effort is made to make the information and commentary accurate and up to date, the DIFC Courts makes no warranties or representations to you as to the accuracy, authenticity or completeness of the content on this website, which is subject to change at any time without notice. The information and commentary does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice by the DIFC Courts or any person employed or connected with it or formerly so employed or connected, to any person on any matter, be it in relation to inheritance, succession planning or otherwise. You are strongly advised to obtain specific, personal advice from a suitably qualified lawyer in relation to your personal circumstances and your objectives. The DIFC Courts does not assume any liability and shall not be liable to you for any damages, including but not limited to, direct or indirect, special, incidental or consequential damages, losses or expenses arising in connection with this website, its administration and any content or lack thereof found on it. The information on this web site is not to be displayed except in full screen format. Although care has been taken to provide links to suitable material from this site, no guarantee can be given about the suitability, completeness or accuracy of any of the material that this site may be linked to or other material on the internet. The DIFC Courts cannot accept any responsibility for the content of material that may be encountered therein.