Established in 2007, the Small Claims Tribunal (SCT) can hear claims within the jurisdiction of the DIFC in three situations. First, where the amount or value of the claim does not exceed AED 500,000. Second, when the claim relates to the employment or former employment of a party and the amount or value of the claim exceeds AED 500,000 and all parties to the claim elect in writing that it be heard by the SCT.
There is no value limit for the SCT’s elective jurisdiction in the context of employment claims. Third, if in the context of claims which are not employment related, the amount or value of the claim does not exceed AED 1 million, and all parties elect in writing that it be heard by the SCT, such election can be made in the underlying contract (if any) or subsequently.
The Court of First Instance (CFI) has exclusive jurisdiction over any civil or commercial case when it relates to the DIFC, in the following context:
The Court of First Instance can hear cases when the contract in question specifies DIFC Courts’ jurisdiction (pre-dispute jurisdiction) or when both parties elect to use DIFC Courts to resolve a dispute which has already arisen (post-dispute jurisdiction). One Judge hears proceedings in the CFI.
The Court of Appeal lays down the final order or judgment of the Courts and no appeal shall be permitted from a decision of the Court of Appeal.
Established in 2017 and headed by Justice Sir Richard Field, the Technology and Construction Division (TCD) draws on specialist judges and a new set of industry-specific rules to fast-track dispute resolution, providing greater certainty to businesses in court. The Division will only hear technically complex cases.
Examples in the construction sector might include complicated engineering disputes or claims arising out of fires. Technology-related cases could include liability for cybercrime incidents, disputes over the ownership and use of data, and issues relating to emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence or connected cars.
Established in 2020, the Arbitration Division is mandated to accommodate the rapidly increasing number of arbitration-related cases. Similar to the Technology & Construction Division (TCD) launched in 2017, the Arbitration Division is Chaired by H.E. Justice Shamlan Al Sawalehi and leverages dedicated judicial and registry oversight and case management expertise. Streamlining the arbitration-related cases under the new division has also led to increased efficiency of process, with the ability to swiftly review applications for interim measures and injunctive relief mechanisms.
With its extensive national, regional, and global connectivity, the DIFC Courts empowers its specialised Arbitration Division to leverage existing enforcement expertise, helping to ensure certainty of recognition and enforcement of arbitral awards.
To bolster the Arbitration Division, the DIFC Courts has also launched an Arbitration Working Group in 2020, the first court in the region to introduce such an initiative. The panel of experts are tasked with reinforcing and sharing developments and best-practices, encompassing an advisory team of arbitration professionals, bodies, centres, educational institutions, and industry-related organisations.
H.E. Justice Shamlan Al Sawalehi Court of Appeal Judge & Judge in Charge of Arbitration Division
Nour Hineidi Registrar
Rashid Shahin Director
Alec Emmerson Chief Executive & Trustee
Taghrid Ashrafi Senior Legal Counsel
Leonora Riesenburg Chair
Dr Tenia Kyriazi SFHEA Deputy Director, Academic Operations
Hussain Hadi Head of LexisNexis Publishing Middle East
Edward Sunna Chief Legal Officer
Nassif BouMalhab Partner
Paul Coates Partner
Michelle Nelson Partner
Amir Ghaffari Partner
Alain Farhad Partner
Adrian Chadwick Partner
Henry Quinlan Partner
Stuart Paterson Partner
Sara Koleilat-Aranjo Senior Associate
Shane Jury Associate
Jasmin Fichte Managing Partner
Rupert Reed QC
Michael Black QC
Tom Montagu-Smith QC
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