DIFC Courts

FAQs

What are the DIFC Courts?

The UAE's DIFC Courts administer a unique English-language common law system – offering swift, independent justice to settle local and international commercial or civil disputes. The Courts, based in Dubai, provide certainty through transparent, enforceable judgments from internationally-recognised judges, who adhere to the highest global legal standards.

DIFC Courts' successful track record supports Dubai’s growing status as an international business hub while serving companies in the UAE, the GCC and worldwide.

What is the DIFC?

The Dubai International Financial Centre is an onshore financial Centre in the UAE. The DIFC’s strategic location, between the markets of the east and west, provides a secure and efficient platform for business and financial institutions to reach into and out of the emerging markets of the region.

The Centre offers independent regulation, supportive infrastructure and a tax-efficient regime, as well as a common law system.

Who can use the DIFC Courts?

Originally the DIFC Courts were established to hear cases relating to the DIFC only. In light of their success and far-reaching reputation for swift and efficient justice, the DIFC Courts’ jurisdiction was extended in October 2011. Decree no.16/2011 opened the Courts’ remit to hear:

  • Any civil or commercial case in which both parties select the DIFC Courts’ jurisdiction, either in their original contracts/agreements or post- dispute
  • as well as Any civil, commercial or employment case related to the DIFC

What laws do the DIFC Courts apply?

The DIFC Courts apply the law governing the contract in question. Otherwise, they apply the DIFC’s common law system, based predominantly on that of the United Kingdom.

Do the DIFC Courts hear criminal trials?

No, the DIFC Courts hear matters of commercial and civil law only.

What languages do the Court operate in, and do they plan on operating in the English language.

The Courts operate in the English language. All hearings are conducted in English and all documents must be submitted in English.

One of the DIFC Courts’ central goals has been to complement the UAE’s established Arabic-language judicial system and to provide the domestic and international business community with a choice of platforms upon which they can settle their disputes. As an English-language-only Court, we provide a speedy resolution service for disputes regarding English-language contracts.

Should the UAE leadership wish to amend the law to introduce Arabic as an operating language, we have the facilities and capabilities to respond to this. Indeed more than half of our staff are Emirati, and are therefore Arabic speakers.

Do the DIFC Courts plan to operate in the Arabic language?

One of the DIFC Courts’ central goals has been to complement the UAE’s established Arabic-language judicial system and to provide the domestic and international business community with a choice of platforms upon which they can settle their disputes. As an English-language-only Court, we provide a speedy resolution service for disputes regarding English-language contracts.

Should the UAE leadership wish to amend the law to introduce Arabic as an operating language, we have the facilities and capabilities to respond to this. Indeed more than half of our staff are Emirati, and are therefore Arabic speakers.

How can DIFC Courts’ judgments be enforced outside of the DIFC?

DIFC Courts’ judgments must be enforced through the Dubai Courts, in accordance with the Federal Civil Procedures Law, provided that the procedure under the DIFC Law (Dubai Law No. 12 of 2004 as amended) is followed.

Since the coming into force of Law No. 16 of 2011, DIFC Courts’ judgments can be enforced in the other Emirates either through a Dubai execution judge or directly by the local “competent entity” within the UAE (see Article 7(2) of Law No. 16).

As a Court of the UAE, DIFC Courts’ judgments are enforceable within the GCC under the GCC Convention (1996) and throughout the Arab World under the Riyadh Convention (1983). DIFC Courts’ judgments and orders are also enforceable in France by virtue of the Paris Convention (1992), and in many other countries (including China and India) according to the domestic laws governing the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments.

Have the DIFC Courts ever enforced their judgments outside of the DIFC before and if so, where?

http://issuu.com/difccourts/docs/enforcement_guide_combined_single__?e=29076707/61750336DIFC Courts’ orders are regularly enforced within Dubai and vice versa. Further information on enforcement of DIFC Courts orders and judgments can be found in our enforcement guide http://issuu.com/difccourts/docs/enforcement_guide_combined_single__?e=29076707/61750336

How can I file a case application at the DIFC Courts?

All applications can be made through the Courts’ e-Registry – an online filing secure platform. Please see ‘Forms on the Courts’ website for guidance and for application documents. The Registry Office is open from 8am until 4pm, Sunday until Thursday.

Have the DIFC Courts ever enforced their judgments outside of the DIFC before and if so, where? DIFC Courts’ orders are regularly enforced within Dubai and vice versa. Further information on enforcement of DIFC Courts orders and judgments can be found in our enforcement guide http://issuu.com/difccourts/docs/enforcement_guide_combined_single__?e=29076707/61750336

How much does it cost to use the DIFC Courts?

The DIFC Courts' fee schedule can be found at the following link:

If I cannot afford legal and Courts’ fees, do the DIFC Courts have a pro-bono programme?

The Academy's Pro Bono Programme was the first of its kind in the Middle East and was implemented in 2009. It provides access to justice for those most in need. Since its launch, the Programme's register has attracted the support of 52 volunteer legal practices, who offer free representation to litigants who have a case in the DIFC Courts and who are financially in need and cannot afford a lawyer to represent them. The Programme has been used successfully on a number of occasions and in 2012 the scheme was extended to include a Pro Bono Clinic service (staffed by currently 152 trained lawyers), which operates once a week from 8.30am – 12.30pm. Details of these clinics are published in advance on the Academy of law's website.

Please click here for more information relating to the Pro Bono Programme.

How do the DIFC Courts ensure professional standards?

The Courts require that all advocates and other users abide by the Code of Professional Conduct. The Code, which sets out a requisite standard of professional behaviour when dealing with the Courts, was first published in 2009 and has been updated on 25 August 2017. A copy of the Code is available on the Courts' website.

 

Who are the DIFC Courts’ judges?

 

  • Justice Sir David Steel
  • H.E. Justice Omar Juma Al Muhairi
  • H.E. Justice Ali Shamis Al Madhani
  • H.E Justice Shamlan Al Sawalehi
  • Justice Sir Richard Field
  • Justice Sir Jeremy Cooke
  • Justice Judith Prakash
  • Justice Zaki Azmi

The bench is supported by Small Claims Tribunal (SCT) Judges . and Judicial Officers, Nassir Al Nasser and Maha Al Mehairi. Please click here for the judges' biographies

Are DIFC Courts’ hearings open to the public?

DIFC Courts' hearings in public cases are open to the public and the media. Guides on how the public and the media should behave at a hearing are available here:

Public Guide https://www.difccourts.ae/2013/12/31/public-guide/

Media Guide: https://www.difccourts.ae/2013/12/31/media-guide/

How does the DIFC Courts’ paperless office work?

DIFC Courts, the Dubai International Financial Centre's (DIFC) independent, common law judicial system, have introduced a new, groundbreaking, fully paperless infrastructure in continued efforts to further improve effectiveness and as part of a commitment to operating in a sustainable manner. The Courts are setting a positive example for the region as they combine best-in-class organisation, accessibility and transparency with an environmentally conscious approach.

The paperless, digital storing-initiative is part of the Courts' continued efforts to increase efficiencies, ensure maximum security and to reduce their carbon footprint. . In excess of 136,000 papers from the inception of the Courts in 2005 have been transferred to the new system and are now stored electronically. Only original pleadings and documents sealed by the Courts are maintained and stored offsite, after the case has closed.

https://www.difccourts.ae/e-bundle/

How do the DIFC Courts further develop Emirati advocates?

In line with His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s vision, the Courts’ are dedicated to developing national advocates. A conference to engage this community and to present the opportunities for Emirati lawyers at DIFC Courts was held in March 2012. An MOU was signed at the conference between the DIFC Courts and the Dubai Institute for Training and Judicial Studies, in which both parties outlined their commitment to training and further developing Emirati lawyers within Dubai’s English-language, common law system.

The Courts have since launched the ‘DIFC Courts’ Academy’ – a certified training programme by top international experts which has been designed for Emirati and other advocates wishing to practice in the DIFC Courts in future.

The Academy’s first course began in November 2012. This was fully subscribed and a further course has been arranged to begin in April 2013.

What is the DIFC Courts' Small Claims Tribunal?

The Small Claims Tribunal (SCT) at DIFC Courts is an increasingly popular option for businesses in Dubai, UAE and beyond for small claims, especially when people want to have their commercial and employment disputes heard in English.

Small claims are defined as: When the amount or value of the claim is not greater than AED 500,000

or

  • When the amount or value of the claim is not greater than AED 1 million,
  • and the claim does not relate to employment
  • both parties agree in writing that it be heard by the SCT

or

  • When the claim relates to employment and the amount or value of the claim is greater than AED 500,000,
  • and both parties agree in writing that it be heard by the SCT.
  • The SCT offers businesses and individuals
  • fast resolution - an average of 90% of cases have been settled within four weeks
  • private and confidential proceedings
  • reduced costs – trained mediators help both parties to sum up a dispute and to highlight what is important to them to reach a settlement.
  • Hearings take place without lawyers in a private, informal setting, leading to more amicable – even friendly – resolution of disputes. With our emphasis on settlement, many disputes are decided early in the process, maximising the possibility of maintaining a good business relationship.
  • Please click here for more information: http://sct.difccourts.ae/why-opt-in/

How to apply for a Job/Internship?

Contact our HR department on hr@dra.ae

How do I Opt-in to the DIFC Courts Jurisdiction?

Parties from around the world are free to agree in writing to have their case heard in the DIFC Courts, pursuant to Dubai Law No. 16 of 2011. Further information about how to select the DIFC Courts as your venue of choice for the resolution of your dispute is available at https://difccourts.ae/difc-courts-in-your-contracts/

How do I find Judgments on the website?

All judgments that are available to the public can be located on the DIFC Courts website. Should the judgment you are searching for be unavailable on the website, it may be because it has been made in relation to a private case. https://www.difccourts.ae/judgments-and-orders/

Where do I find list of Registered Practitioners ?

A list of practitioners registered with the DIFC can be found here

How is the DIFC Courts Small Claims Tribunal different from the Dubai Courts?

The DIFC Courts Small Claims Tribunal is located within the DIFC Free Zone and operates under English common law. It does not hear criminal claims. The DIFC Courts SCT covers all commercial contracts, but not employment or property claims outside of the DIFC.

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