Skip to Content

Dispute resolution trends: specialty treatment of “small claims”

Dispute resolution trends: specialty treatment of “small claims”

July 2, 2018


By Amna Al Owais, Chief Executive & Registrar, DIFC Courts, & Mahika Hart, Postgraduate Law Fellow, DIFC Courts


What is a “small claim”? Are they worth pursuing?

As the costs associated with legal disputes continue to rise around the globe, even as smaller claims make up the bulk of business disputes, businesses are seeking any option to defray legal costs and better ensure collection of claims. Arbitration has been a common option, often seen as lower cost, however such costs are rising. Another option traditionally available for businesses facing smaller-value claims has been “small claims” tracts within national courts.

Trend to watch: raising the cap on “small claims” 

A new trend is emerging that will increase legal resolution of smaller claims and will greatly improve the administration of disputes in both national courts and arbitration: raising the monetary value eligible for “small claims” treatment.

Legal teams must aim to craft their dispute resolution choices in order to maximise the potential to collect on smaller value claims while also minimising the costs associated with those claims. This may often include attention to unique jurisdictions and/or arbitral institutes like the DIFC SCT and the ICC, which have created opt-in procedures beneficial for businesses pursuing smaller value claims. Smaller investments in legal knowledge now can save immensely in legal costs later, especially as many of these newer small claims options will allow for reduced costs for legal representation and administrative fees while increasing the chance of collection.

Legal teams should note that many of these procedures require opting-in, usually in writing and before a dispute arises. This means that efforts to update standard documents and contracts for future business in order to better outline a cost-efficient dispute resolution strategy will often be a worthwhile exercise.

Businesses should also consider amendments to past contracts and agreements to include more thoughtful dispute resolution clauses. There is opportunity to include varying choices in a dispute resolution clause for larger versus smaller value claims, allowing a business more flexibility in its dispute resolution choice, based upon the value of the claim at stake.


With legal costs showing no sign of a decrease in the near future, the rise of smart and efficient small claims procedures is an important development around the globe. Businesses should not be hesitant to consider these developments when mapping dispute resolution strategies moving forward, acknowledging that lower cost, more efficient procedures for small claims collection can make a big difference to their bottom line.

*This blog contains excerpts from an article published by Corporate Disputes Magazine. The full article can be read at:


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.