The DIFC Courts were established under two laws enacted by the late Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the then Ruler of Dubai. Dubai Law No. 12 of 2004 (as amended by Dubai Law No. 16 of 2011 –click here to read Law 12 of 2004 as amended ) established the DIFC Courts, describes the jurisdiction of the Courts and provides for the independent administration of justice in the DIFC. DIFC Law No: 10 of 2004 sets out the powers, procedures, functions and administration of the DIFC Courts.
The laws establishing the DIFC Courts were designed to ensure the highest international standards of legal procedure thus ensuring that the DIFC Courts provide the certainty, flexibility and efficiency expected by the global institutions operating in, with and from Dubai and the UAE.
The laws enacted provide for a court system capable of resolving all civil and commercial disputes, ranging from sophisticated, international financial transactions to debt collection and employment disputes. The DIFC Courts deal exclusively with all cases and claims arising out of the DIFC and its operations, and any other claims in which all parties agree in writing to use the DIFC Courts.
The DIFC Courts carry out their functions in an independent manner, in accordance with the provisions of the DIFC laws and regulations.
The DIFC laws allow for any institution operating within the DIFC to select a legal jurisdiction of its choice, other than the DIFC, when entering into contracts. However, in the event that parties do not do so, the DIFC laws will be applicable by default and they can file a case in the DIFC Courts.
The DIFC Courts have jurisdiction over civil and commercial matters only. The DIFC Courts do not have jurisdiction over criminal matters. All criminal matters are referred to the appropriate external authority.
Court of First Instance
This Court shall comprise of a single Judge and shall have exclusive jurisdiction over: Civil or commercial cases and disputes involving the DIFC, any of the DIFC’s bodies or any of the DIFC’s establishments.
Civil or commercial cases and disputes arising from or related to a contract that has been fulfilled or a transaction that has been carried out, in whole or in part, in the DIFC or an incident that has occurred in the DIFC.
Objections filed against a decision made by the DIFC’s bodies, which are subject to objection in accordance with the DIFC’s laws and regulations.
Any application over which the Courts have jurisdiction in accordance with the DIFC’s laws and regulations.
Court of Appeal
This Court shall be comprised of at least three Judges, with the Chief Justice or most senior Judge presiding. The Court of Appeal would have exclusive jurisdiction over:
Appeals filed against Judgments and Awards made by the Court of First Instance;
Interpretation of any article of the DIFC’s laws based upon the request of any of the DIFC’s bodies or the request of any of the DIFC’s establishments provided that the establishment obtains leave of the Chief Justice in this regard. Such interpretation shall have the power of law.
The Court of Appeal lays down the final order or judgement of the Courts and no appeal shall lie from a decision of the Court of Appeal.