Cooperation agreement with DLD to promote Wills Service

Dubai, United Arab Emirates; 28 March 2019: During the last day of the Dubai Property Festival, the DLD and the DIFC Courts signed a cooperation agreement. The agreement was signed by HE Sultan Butti bin Mejren, Director General of DLD and HE Justice Omar Juma Mohammad Al Fujair Al Muhairi, Deputy Chief Justice of the DIFC Courts, in the presence of HE Justice Ali Al Madhani, Nassir Al Nasser and Ahmed Al Kamali of the DIFC Courts, and Majida Ali Rashid, CEO of Real Estate Investment Management and Promotion Sector, DLD.

The agreement aims to promote cooperation and mutual promotion to ensure customer happiness and consolidate confidence in Dubai’s real estate sector by providing a unique and balanced investment environment, as well as joint work to improve the performance of operations and simplify procedures, developing and improving customer service and maintaining communication between the two parties to achieve common interests in Dubai.

The DLD and the DIFC Courts will focus on exchanging knowledge, experiences at all levels, exchanging ideas, studies, and researches related to the parties’ competence and field of work, as well as continuous coordination, benefiting from their acquired experience and in organising joint meetings, seminars, and conferences. The DIFC Courts will work to ensure that it’s public service offerings through the Wills Service Centre can complement and reinforce the overall service with the DLD to property purchasers.




Value of claims brought to DIFC Courts exceeds AED 10 billion in 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • DIFC Courts heard 670 cases across all divisions in 2018, revealing a 29% increase year-on-year, with the overall value increasing by 422%
  • Steady growth in 2018 was driven by the Court of First Instance (CFI), with the total value of claims amounting to AED 10.2 billion
  • 2018 was marked by DIFC Courts’ commitment to innovation and to forging international judicial and academic partnerships

Dubai, United Arab Emirates; 20 February 2019:  The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Courts today released its annual figures for the full year of 2018, with total a volume of 670 cases across all divisions, revealing a 29% increase year-on-year. The overall value of claims saw a significant increase of 422% over the same period, revealing a surge in growth as well as greater business certainty in the English-language common law courts.

COMMERCIAL CLAIMS SURGE IN MAIN COURT

The volume of cases of the main Court of First Instance (CFI) grew substantially in 2018, increasing by 50% year-on-year, signaling strong business confidence in the DIFC Courts. The total value of cases in the same period, including arbitration-related cases, amounted to AED 10.2 billion up from AED 400 million in 2017, primarily driven by two high profile transnational disputes.

Cases brought before the CFI covered a range of sectors including banking and finance, construction, real estate and manufacturing which involve disputes related to breach of contract, outstanding payments, wills and probate, and employment. There was also a noticeable increase in the number of opt-in cases in 2018, with over 60% of claims in the CFI originating from parties electing to use the DIFC Courts to resolve their disputes.

Reinforcing the Courts’ record of certainty for business through enforceable judgments, the total value of enforcement claims filed amounted to AED 10.2 billion in 2018, an increase of 197% (2017: AED 3.4 billion). The number of cases increased considerably by 101% with 185 enforcement cases in 2018, rising from 92 cases in the same period in 2017.

SMALL CLAIM TRIBUNAL BOOSTING ACCESS TO JUSTICE

The Small Claims Tribunal (SCT) experienced steady growth year-on-year, with its case load increasing by 10% to 399 claims in 2018 (2017: 363 cases). This growth was driven primarily by breach of contract cases which represented 43% of all SCT cases in 2018, followed by labour and employment (27%). Reinforcing the SCT’s increasing popularity for business trading, the total value of claims increased by 47% in 2018, rising from AED 36.2 million to AED 53.3 million.

Zaki Bin Azmi, Chief Justice, DIFC Courts, said: “The DIFC Courts experienced substantial growth in 2018, in both the volume and value of claims brought to the courts. These results reflect the confidence in the DIFC Courts and are testament to the Courts as a jurisdiction of choice in the Middle East and to our creation of an environment which business both domestically and internationally can trust, one in which contracts can be enforced and disputes resolved fairly and swiftly. Our goal for 2019 is to continue to reinforce this certainty and predictability and to deliver a comprehensive suite of public services for the good of the communities we serve.”

INNOVATION POWERING SERVICE EXCELLENCE

2018 was also marked by a commitment to harnessing new technologies in order to drive service and judicial excellence. In February, the DIFC Courts became the first court in the Middle East to introduce a new e-bundling service to allow court documents to be uploaded from anywhere in the world. A landmark taskforce with Smart Dubai was also announced in 2018, the first step towards creating the world’s first Court of the Blockchain at DIFC Courts.

At the end of 2018, the International Consortium for Court Excellence (ICCE) Conference 2018 was held in the UAE for the first time ever and hosted by the DIFC Courts. The forum invited delegates from around the world to discuss the developments taking place in court innovation, service excellence and exploration of future technologies and their legal implications on courts.

 INTERNATIONAL PARTNERSHIPS

Marking over a decade of full operations in 2018, the DIFC Courts expanded its reach by forging partnerships and alliances with leading courts and academic institutions from around the world.

In May, the DIFC Courts signed a unique memorandum with the University of Oxford’s China Centre to pool expertise in order to protect global business along the $5 trillion Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). This partnership was followed by tie ups with both the Hong Kong High Court as well as a special focus on “trans-systemic” law and preparing lawyers and judges to work across the world’s jurisdictions through cooperation with Canada’s McGill University Faculty of Law.

To review the full 2018 results for DIFC Courts, please see the 2018 Annual Report here  https://www.difccourts.ae/2019/02/19/difc-courts-annual-review-2018/

 

 




DIFC Courts launches Special Complaints Referral Centre

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Dubai Healthcare City Authority (DHCA) first government entity to opt-in to the centre’s mediation services
  • Special focus on Small Claims Tribunal (SCT) model to support speedy mediation and amicable settlement 

Dubai, United Arab Emirates; 31st January 2019: The DIFC Courts and Dubai Healthcare City Authority (DHCA) have signed an agreement that will see Dubai’s leading healthcare free zone become the first government entity to utilise the services of the DIFC Courts’ newly created Special Complaints Referral Centre (SCRC).

Signed at the Arab Health Exhibition and Congress by Zaki Bin Azmi, Chief Justice, DIFC Courts, and Dr. Ramadan Alblooshi, CEO, Dubai Healthcare City Authority – Regulatory, the agreement builds on a strong relationship forged by a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the two entities in 2018 and establishes a framework for DHCA to benefit from the specialised expertise derived from the mediation mechanisms available in the successful Small Claims Tribunal (SCT) model.

In 2018 the DIFC Courts’ SCT mediators handled over 390 cases, with an average of four weeks for a case to be resolved. The SCT enables smart, quick and amicable settlement of claims up to half a million dirhams, either virtually from a laptop or smartphone via smart SCT, or directly in a courtroom.

As of 2018, the Dubai Healthcare City free zone has more than 170 clinical partners including hospitals, outpatient medical centres and diagnostic laboratories, with licensed professionals from almost 90 countries. In addition, it is home to more than 200 retail and non-clinical facilities, and close to 10,000 individuals work in the free zone.

Zaki Bin Azmi, Chief Justice, DIFC Courts, said: “Mediation services are becoming an increasingly popular option for individuals and businesses in Dubai, UAE and beyond for small claims. We are delighted that we can share our knowledge, expertise and best-practices with Dubai Healthcare City Authority and to assist with helping resolve disputes in a more speedy and amicable manner. The newly formed Special Complaints Referral Centre will be available to all public and private sector entities wishing to avail of a more user-friendly, mediation-orientated, form of dispute resolution.”  

Dr. Ramadan Alblooshi, CEO, Dubai Healthcare City Authority – Regulatory, said, “As part of our mandate, we seek to strengthen Dubai Healthcare City Authority’s framework of governance and regulation. Our agreement with the DIFC Courts and its newly formed Special Complaints Referral Centre is the next step in providing a more robust and innovative consultation service to efficiently resolve matters relating to labour complaints.”

The UAE’s healthcare market is set to surge to more than AED 103 billion by 2021, with research and analysis predicting growth of up to 8.5% from 2018 to 2023. According to a recent report, increased investor interest in emerging sectors such as the cutting-edge medical device market will also play a role in expanding the current AED 64 billion market, as will medical tourism and the roll-out of mandatory health insurance.




DIFC Courts host international court excellence and legaltech conference

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • The International Consortium for Court Excellence (ICCE) Conference 2018 held in the UAE for the first time ever under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and President of the DIFC
  • Conference aims to highlight key values and success factors in the International Framework for Court Excellence (IFCE) and identify international best practice and challenges
  • Panel discussions include focus on future technologies such as AI, smart contracts and blockchain 

Dubai, United Arab Emirates; 7 November 2018: Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and President of the DIFC, the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Courts today opened the Dubai conference on Court Excellence and Innovation: Today & Tomorrow, an international court excellence and legaltech conference.

For the first time ever, the International Consortium for Court Excellence (ICCE) Conference 2018 is being held in the UAE and hosted by the DIFC Courts. Building on the success of the ICCE Conference in 2017 held in Melbourne, Australia, the Dubai Conference provides delegates from around the world insight into the developments taking place in court innovation, service excellence and exploration of future technologies and their legal implications on courts internationally.

Michael Hwang SC, Chief Justice, DIFC Courts and Head, Dispute Resolution Authority (DRA), said: Each year, courts from around the world bid to host the prestigious ICCE conference and we are honoured to have been chosen this year. This conference serves as a vital platform for leading commercial courts to work together to assist judiciaries in adopting the International Framework for Court Excellence (IFCE). 

As the DIFC Courts celebrates ten years of full operations this month, we are proud to welcome delegates and speakers from around the globe to Dubai, showcasing the DIFC Courts as a jurisdiction of choice in the Middle East region and beyond. By pooling our expertise, this event allows us to work together to identify and share international best practices, while developing practical strategies that are vital to achieving judicial and service excellence.

As a dynamic young judiciary with a focus on excellence and technology, the DIFC Courts is uniquely positioned to host an international conference that addresses the integration of technologies into the excellent administration of courts. The DIFC Courts is the first court in the MENA region to introduce technology such as e-bundling and, this year, the DIFC Courts and Smart Dubai announced a joint taskforce to create the world’s first Court of the Blockchain.

Reem Al Shihhe, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, DIFC Courts and Deputy CEO,  DRA, said: “When we were selected to host this  ICCE conference, our task was to achieve two important outcomes – staying true to the traditional format that gives this global event such prestige and value, but also to inject additional themes that will, in effect, benefit the global judicial community. We believe the insights into emerging legaltech will provide this added-value to attendees and drive discussion for global initiatives in the coming years.”

The two-day conference attracts over 300 attendees, including esteemed members of the judiciary, members of court registries, leading academic professionals, legal practitioners, advisors, futurists, and tech experts, from all over the world. The prestigious lineup of speakers from around the world includes H.E Tarish Eid Al Mansouri, Director General of the Dubai Courts, Reem Al Shihhe, COO, DIFC Courts & Deputy CEO, DIFC Dispute Resolution Authority (DRA); Steve Crown, Vice President and Deputy General Counsel of Microsoft; and Richard Susskind, renowned author and expert in the future of professional service.




Ruler of Dubai appoints new Chief Justice and Deputy Chief Justice to the DIFC Courts

                

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dubai, United Arab Emirates; 6 November 2018: Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Courts are pleased to announce that His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has issued Decrees No. (33) and (34) of 2018, appointing Justice Zaki bin Azmi as Chief Justice of the DIFC Courts and HE Justice Omar Juma Al Fajeer Al Muhairi as Deputy Chief Justice of DIFC Courts. Decree No. (33) of 2018 is effective from 14 November 2018, while Decree No. (34) of 2018 is effective from its date of issuance.

Appointed as Deputy Chief Justice from 2005-2010 and Chief Justice from 2010-2018, Dr Michael Hwang, SC, retires from the DIFC Courts after a tenure of over 13 years of service.  During this time, served by international, Emirati and specialised judges with a total of over 300 years of experience, the DIFC Courts have built a consistently strong track record of handling complex transnational disputes.

Speaking about his new role, Zaki bin Azmi, Chief Justice of the DIFC Courts, commented: “I feel honoured and grateful to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum for having faith and confidence in me to lead the DRA and the DIFC Courts to greater heights and to continue the great work in building one of the world’s leading commercial courts.”

Justice Zaki bin Azmi joined the DIFC Courts in December 2013, following a long-distinguished career in Malaysia where he served as Chief Justice of Malaysia for three years, and President of the Court of Appeal. He was directly appointed as a Federal Judge, the first time in Malaysia’s judicial history that a practicing lawyer was directly appointed to such a position.

HE Justice Omar Juma Al Fajeer Al Muhairi joined Dubai Financial Services Authority in 2004 as a consultant. He was appointed as Senior Judicial Officer in DIFC Courts in 2005, and as an Appeal Judge of the DIFC Courts in 2008. During his tenure as a Judge, HE Justice Al Muhairi has dealt with a large number of major criminal, commercial and civil cases.




DIFC Courts reinforce multibillion-dirham UAE-India bilateral trade

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Courts sign Guidance Note to strengthen contract enforcement and collection of money judgments in DIFC and India
  • UAE-India bilateral trade stands at $58 billion in 2017; on track to exceed $100 billion by 2020

Dubai, United Arab Emirates; 26 September 2018: The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Courts has brought additional certainty to UAE-India commerce with the signing a Guidance Note with Nishith Desai Associates, covering enforcement of civil and commercial judgments through DIFC Courts and the Courts of India.

The Guidance Note, with one of the leading law firms in India, builds on the DIFC Courts’ strategy of taking practical steps to promote judicial convergence, in this case with the UAE’s third largest foreign trade partner. With over ten years’ track record of handling complex, transnational disputes as an English language, common law international commercial court, the DIFC Courts is well-positioned to provide detailed guidance to parties seeking recognition and enforcement of civil and commercial judgments in India and the DIFC.

Currently 26,000 Indian firms and over 40,000 UAE-based firms owned by non-resident Indians (NRIs) operate in the UAE, and bilateral trade is estimated at $53 billion last year, leading to ever-greater economic interdependence. Increased foreign trade has resulted in a steep rise in the number of cross-border transactions and a proportionate rise in commercial disputes, leading to a greater need for contract and judgment enforcement.

As a result, amendments to India’s 2015 ‘Commercial Courts Act’ were introduced in 2018 to allow state governments to establish commercial courts at the district level. This timely guidance from the DIFC Courts and Nishith Desai Associates will help businesses trading between UAE and India benefit when it comes to recognition and collection of money judgments, reducing risk and fostering greater certainty.

Michael Hwang SC, Chief Justice, DIFC Courts, said:An increasing number of emerging economies have recognised that investing in efficient and globally connected courts is necessity to compete for world trade and investment – and India is no exception. This Guidance Note with one of India’s leading law firms will enable greater trade security between our two markets and provide much-needed guidance on civil and commercial judgments in both India and Dubai.”

Moazzam Khan, Head – Global Litigation Practice, Nishith Desai Associates, said: “With the UAE-India trade relations reaching new heights, effective dispute resolution and management are indispensable for ease of doing business. A judgment from a court against a party gives birth toa fresh proceeding for execution of that judgment. This Guidance Note is a comprehensive key for parties seeking enforcement of civil and commercial judgments in India and in the DIFC Courts.”

The Guidance Note was signed in India, following a DIFC Courts delegation visit to meet Honourable Justice Manmohan, Judge, High Court of Delhi, and Gaurav Pachnanda, Senior Advocate at the Indian Bar and member of Fountain Court Chambers.




Sustained growth for the DIFC Courts as value of commercial claims surge

 

  • Decade of full operational service marked by strong growth
  • Main court sees value of cases amounting to AED 2.2 billion
  • Small Claims Tribunal (SCT) witnesses a 60% rise in volume of cases
  • Paperless trials and blockchain partnership to drive service excellence

Dubai, United Arab Emirates; 28 August 2018: The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Courts today released its key figures for the first half of 2018, with total a volume of 368 cases across all divisions, revealing a 64% increase year-on-year. The overall value of claims saw an increase of 181% over the same period, delivering strong growth for the English-language common law courts.

The volume of cases of the main Court of First Instance (CFI) continued to grow in the first half of 2018, increasing by 29% from the first half of 2017. The total value of cases in the same period, including arbitration-related cases, amounted to AED 2.2 billion.

Increased connectivity expands enforcement capabilities

The period was also notable for a significant increase in the number of enforcement cases, indicating the confidence businesses have in the DIFC Courts to collect on money judgments. The total value of enforcement claims filed amounted to AED 2.1 billion in the first half of 2018, an increase of 53% (H1 2017: AED1.4 billion). The number of cases increased considerably by 123 per cent with 87 enforcement cases in 2018, rising from 39 cases in the same period in 2017.

Small Claims Tribunal boosting access to justice

The 2018 half year results also demonstrate the increasing number of small businesses and individuals based outside of the DIFC choosing to opt-in to the DIFC Courts’ jurisdiction, electing to have their commercial disputes resolved by the Small Claims Tribunal (SCT).

The performance of the region’s first SCT was strong in the first six months of 2018, with its case load increasing by 60% to 240 claims (H1 2017: 150 cases). This growth was driven by greater awareness and the innovative use of technology, including the region’s first “Smart SCT” virtual court. Reinforcing the SCT’s increasing popularity for business trading, the total value of claims increased by 120% in the first half of 2018, rising from AED 13.9 million to AED 30.6 million.

Amna Al Owais, Chief Executive & Registrar, DIFC Courts, said: “The first half of 2018 saw increases in both the volume and value of cases in almost every instance, a reflection of the DIFC Courts being a jurisdiction of choice in the Middle East region and beyond. The increase in enforcement applications also highlights our ability to assist businesses through a robust national, regional and international enforcement network. We are particularly proud of the Small Claims Tribunal (SCT), which is proving a vital mechanism for the region’s SME community to access justice. Our performance so far this year is testament to the maturity of the DIFC Courts which, after over a decade of operations, continues to offer businesses access to a robust and efficient suite of dispute resolution services.”

Innovation drive elevates service excellence

In the first half of 2018, the DIFC Courts re-affirmed its commitment to harness technology for increased judicial and service efficiency. Through a partnership with Smart Dubai, a taskforce will work to create the world’s first Court of the Blockchain. Building on existing dispute resolution services, the alliance will initially explore how to aid verification of court judgments for cross-border enforcement.

In February of this year, the DIFC Courts became the first court in the Middle East to introduce a new secure cloud-based e-bundling technology, transforming court hearings and trials into a paperless environment. This service builds upon the updated Court Management System (CMS) which enables judges, lawyers and courts staff to upload and access case information in various formats, across multiple locations and share with numerous users.




DIFC Courts memorandum with the Hong Kong High Court cements China links

 

 

 

 

 

 

(L-R) Mr. Simon Kwang, Registrar Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal; Mrs Amna Al Owais, Chief Executive & Registrar, DIFC Courts; Dr Michael Hwang SC, Chief Justice, DIFC Courts; The Hon Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma, Chief Justice, Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal; The Hon Mr. Justice Andrew Cheung, Chief Judge, Hong Kong High Court; Ms Emma Lau Judiciary Administrator, Hong Kong High Court 

  • DIFC Courts and the Hong Kong High Court sign Memorandum of Guidance to enhance enforcement of cross-border judgments
  • Alliance builds on existing memoranda with dispute resolution entities of major Chinese trading hubs

Dubai, United Arab Emirates; 12 August 2018: Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Courts have taken another major step towards connecting with China’s leading dispute resolution centres through the signature of a Memorandum of Guidance (MoG) with the High Court of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China (Hong Kong High Court).

Devised as a practical mechanism to foster investor confidence and legal certainty, the MoG will serve as technical guide for the international legal and business communities on recognition and collection of money judgments in DIFC and Hong Kong.

Last year, trade between the UAE and Hong Kong alone totaled $10.87 billion, up from $10.59 billion in 2016. This figure is expected to rise further as Hong Kong consolidates its position as a leading commercial hub supporting the $5 trillion Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The expansion in trade and investment between UAE, Hong Kong and mainland China means that disputes become increasingly inevitable, making the role of international commercial courts more important than ever before.

The MoG was signed between Michael Hwang SC, Chief Justice, DIFC Courts, and the Honourable Mr. Justice Andrew Cheung of the Hong Kong High Court. Speaking at the signing, Michael Hwang SC, Chief Justice, DIFC Courts, said: “This year the UAE and China have entered into a new phase of co-operation. Our new alliance with the Hong Kong High Court will not only provide guidance to parties with commercial claims before our two courts, but will also result in greater trade security for Chinese and international businesses and investors, securing participation in Hong Kong and mainland China’s growth.”

The MoG comes at a time when UAE-China relations are at an all-time high, following President Xi Jinping’s three-day visit to the UAE in July. Bilateral trade between the UAE and China is forecast to grow to $70 billion by 2020, and under ‘One Country, Two Systems’, Hong Kong has long established itself as one of China’s key financial centres.

DIFC Courts’ Chief Executive & Registrar, Amna Al Owais, accompanied DIFC Courts’ Chief Justice to sign the Memorandum of Guidance (MOG) in Hong Kong, following visits to the Shanghai High People’s Court, Zhejiang High People’s Court, and Hangzhou Internet Court.

The DIFC Courts’ visit to mainland China and Hong Kong follow memoranda signed with the Shanghai High People’s Court in 2016 and with the Hangzhou Arbitration Commission in 2017.




DIFC Courts and Smart Dubai launch joint taskforce for world’s first Court of the Blockchain

Preliminary work to explore activation of cross-border enforcement of legal judgments through the blockchain

Future research to focus on building dispute resolution mechanisms into the blockchain

Partnership to reinforce the Dubai Blockchain Strategy 2020 

 

 

 

Dubai, United Arab Emirates; 30 July 2018: The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Courts have partnered with Smart Dubai to create the world’s first Court of the Blockchain. Building on existing dispute resolution services, the alliance will initially explore how to aid verification of court judgments for cross-border enforcement.

The partnership is the first step in creating a blockchain-powered future for the judiciary which will have far-reaching benefits, including streamlining the judicial process, removing document duplications, and driving greater efficiencies across the entire legal ecosystem.

Future research will combine expertise and resources to investigate handling disputes arising out of private and public blockchains, with regulation and contractual terms encoded within the smart contract. Currently, blockchain-based smart contract transactions are irrevocable and there is no technical means to unwind a transaction. The joint taskforce will model smart contracts across the blockchain that incorporate logic and allow for various forms of exceptions and conditions for seamless and more efficient dispute resolution.

Amna Al Owais, Chief Executive & Registrar, DIFC Courts, said: “This taskforce is in line with our guiding principle to deliver courts as a service, powered by technology and extended through cooperation agreements and alliances. By harnessing blockchain technology, Dubai will be firmly positioned at the forefront of legaltech and judicial innovation, setting the standards for countries and judiciaries to follow.”

Her Excellency Dr Aisha Bint Butti Bin Bishr, Director General of the Smart Dubai Office (SDO), said: “Led by the ambitious vision of our leadership, Smart Dubai has set out to transform the emirate into a fully-fledged smart city where all services are digitised. The emirate has become a global trailblazer in embracing advanced technologies and steering them towards the safety, comfort and happiness of our city’s residents and visitors. One of the most notable of these innovations is Blockchain, where the Dubai Blockchain Strategy seeks to run 100% of applicable government transactions on Blockchain by 2020.”

“An invention of this calibre and potential requires an equally disruptive set of rules and an empowered institution to uphold them. This is where our partnership with DIFC Courts comes in, allowing us to work together and create the world’s first disruptive court, helping to truly unlock the power of blockchain technology,” Dr Aisha added. 

In 2017 the DIFC Courts, in partnership with Dubai Future Foundation, launched the Courts of the Future Forum, tasked with designing guidelines and prototyping a commercial court that can operate anywhere worldwide. In 2018, the Forum evolved its mandate to extend this initiative to other global commercial courts, and to engage specialist technology sector and private sector participation, creating vertical working groups to research areas such as blockchain.




New alliance to enhance legal protection along China’s Belt and Road

Dubai International Financial Centre Courts (DIFC Courts) in tie-up with University of Oxford’s China Centre to protect global business along the $5 trillion Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) 

Dubai, United Arab Emirates; 27 May 2018: The Dubai International Financial Centre’s Dispute Resolution Authority (DRA), which incorporates the DIFC Courts, signed a unique memorandum with the University of Oxford’s China Centre to pool expertise on the legal certainty, protection and contract enforcement needed for Chinese and international investors to secure participation in China’s five trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative.

The accord will focus on ways to protect large-scale investments through linking China and the world’s court systems, and on enabling legal, judicial and arbitral systems to keep pace with the opportunities created by the BRI and other ventures. Through joint projects, such as research and reports, the collaboration aims to enhance understanding of the legal and regulatory challenges faced by businesses and courts in the 70 or so BRI countries, and to pave the way for effective dispute resolution and enforcement of court judgments along BRI’s trade routes.

Speaking at the signing event at the University of Oxford, Chief Justice of the DIFC Courts and Head of the DRA, Dr Michael Hwang, sketched out the changing landscape of international enforcement for court judgments  and arbitral awards within  the BRI, and the recently announced international commercial courts to be set up in Beijing, Xian and Shenzhen. Chief Justice Michael Hwang urged BRI countries to seek knowledge of each other’s procedures and, where possible, to collaborate through memorandum agreements on express recognition and enforcement of judgments. As investment flows into the BRI region, it becomes ever-more urgent to find practical solutions to enable contracting parties to solve complex commercial conflicts. In particular, BRI countries needed to find ways in which judgments and awards issued from each BRI country or territory could be enforced in other BRI countries and territories, and gathering such knowledge is only the first step hopefully to legal convergence of some degree within the BRI region.

A 2016 survey by Lexis Nexis and the China Institute of Corporate and Legal Affairs reported that half of respondent Chinese firms engaged on BRI deals face legal challenges. To date, projects worth an estimated US$350 billion have been financed, mainly by Chinese development banks. To encourage foreign investment, robust dispute resolution systems and transnational enforcement mechanisms must be in place to foster investor confidence and legal certainty.

Enforceability of judgments across multiple judicial systems, and guarantees that money can be collected after winning a case in a foreign court, are critical enablers of international commerce. As one of the world’s leading commercial courts, operating in the English-language and using common law principles for over ten years, DIFC Courts has a unique track record of fast-track connectivity and technology-enabled dispute resolution, such as virtual courts.

Launching the collaboration at the China Centre, Michael Hwang SC, Chief Justice, DIFC Courts and Head of the DRA, said: “We are joining forces with the University of Oxford to look at practical solutions for the future of dispute resolution for one of the world’s most ambitious projects. As goods and services travel across the world along the BRI, they will seamlessly cross borders – so we shall need a seamless legal platform, based on legal convergence, that can start to do the same. This aim can partly be fulfilled by the near-universality of the New York Convention for recognition and enforcement of international  arbitral awards But the ideal legal platform should also include a robust regime of enforceable court judgments outside the boundaries of the issuing court.  The answer is to make sure that when a dispute is resolved, court systems can deliver a judgment that can be executed across the full extent of the belt and road. Building up connectivity and enforceability will remove many of the roadblocks that could threaten the success of the Belt and Road Initiative.”

Professor Rana Mitter, Director of China Centre University of Oxford, said: “We are pleased to sign this important memorandum with DIFC Courts. The opportunities of the Belt and Road Initiative are substantial, but so are the potential legal complexities and risks. I am confident that our work alongside DIFC Courts will make an essential contribution to enabling and safeguarding both Chinese and international commercial interests as this remarkable initiative evolves and matures.”