The DIFC Courts will operate a Court of First Instance and a Court of Appeal.
The Court of First Instance shall be comprised 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.
The Court of Appeal shall be comprised of at least three Judges, with the Chief Justice or most senior Judge presiding and shall 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.
No appeal shall lie from a decision of the Court of Appeal.
Constitution of the DIFC Courts
The DIFC Courts shall consist of at least four Judges, one of whom shall be the Chief Justice. A person is qualified to be appointed as a Judge if the person is or has been the holder of high judicial office in any jurisdiction recognised by the Government of the United Arab Emirates and the person has significant experience as a qualified lawyer or Judge in the common law system.
The Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice and Judges are appointed by a decree issued by the Ruler of Dubai. The Chief Justice for the DIFC Courts is Justice Michael Hwang, SC (Singapore), and the Deputy Chief Justice is Justice Sir David Steel (UK). The other judges of the DIFC Courts are H.E. Justice Omar Al Muhairi (UAE), H.E. Justice Ali Shamis Al Madhani (UAE), H.E. Justice Shamlan Al Sawalehi (UAE), Justice Roger Giles (Australia), Justice The Hon Sir Jeremy Cooke (UK), Justice Sir Richard Alan Field (UK), Justice Tun Zaki Azmi (Malaysia), and Justice Judith Prakash (Singapore).
The Chief Justice is responsible for the overall management of the administrative affairs of the DIFC Courts and will preside over all appeals. He will also establish circuits and divisions of the DIFC Courts and appoint its staff and Judicial Officers.