DIFC Courts
  • Guidelines for Registration of Legal Practitioners
  • Part I. Law firms
  • Part II. Individuals with rights of audience before the DIFC Courts
  • Renewals
  • Addition or removal of lawyer(s) under part I
  • Important notes

Guidelines for Registration of Legal Practitioners

The DIFC Courts' Register of Legal Practitioners is made up of two Parts: Part I - for Law firms to issue and conduct proceedings before the DIFC Courts, and Part II - for individual legal practitioners to obtain Rights of Audience before the DIFC Courts.

Once an application is submitted online, it is reviewed by the DIFC Courts, and if successful after the interview that we conduct with the applicants (Part II), the registration is then approved. Registrations are valid for one year, and are renewed upon proving the required documents and payment of the associated renewal fees.

Part I Law firms only

Entry in Part I shall be in the name of a firm. The firm shall provide a list of practitioners employed by the firm (the branch which is being registered) and the names of those lawyers authorised to issue and conduct proceedings on behalf of the firm. Issuing and conducting proceedings involve practical steps which progress a case. On this basis, only a practitioner who is authorised by his/her firm (and listed as such under Part I) can issue and conduct proceedings by:

  • signing Statements of Truth;
  • submitting case related documents with the DIFC Courts’
  • corresponding with the Registry regarding a case or the progression of a case; and
  • corresponding with opposing lawyers.

Supporting documents required for Part I registration:

  • copy of the firm’s Professional License (and a copy of the Dubai Legal Affairs Department license - in case the firm is Located in Dubai)
  • for each lawyer authorised to issue and conduct proceedings on behalf of his/her firm, the following documents must be provided
    • copy of his/her current Practicing Certificate, or a letter of Good Standing from his/her bar association or law society to at least three (3) months from the date of application
    • copy of the Legal Affairs Department Card (in case the practitioner is practicing in Dubai)
    • copy of Passport
    • passport size photo
    • copy of visa page (for UAE Residents)
  • If the applicant firm is located outside of the Emirate of Dubai, an undertaking letter is required from the firm confirming that:
    - the firm does not carry out any legal consulting or activity or other work in Dubai, as the Company is not permitted to do so under its current license; and
    - The undertaking is being given on the basis that the activity of being registered under “Part I” and filing cases for the firm’s clients in DIFC Courts does not constitute “carrying on a business in Dubai”.

A firm can add up to seven (7) Lawyers under part I for no additional fees. Any extra addition is USD 100. There are no fees for removal of practitioners in Part I.

Part II Individuals with rights of audience before the DIFC Courts

Entry in Part II can only be in the name of an individual. The applicant must provide a declaration (as stated on the online application form) as to whether:

  • they have at least five (5) years post-qualification experience immediately preceding the date of application as an Advocate in Courts, Arbitrations or Tribunals full rights of audience which grants upon the practitioner; OR
  • they have at least two (2) years post-qualification experience immediately preceding the date of application as an Advocate in Courts, Arbitrations or Tribunals limited rights of audience which grants upon the practitioner;
  • they have sufficient command of the English language; and
  • sufficient knowledge of the Common Law system and the DIFC Courts rules and procedures in order to conduct proceedings before the DIFC Courts.

Supporting documents required for Part II registration:

  • copy of current Practicing Certificate or letter of Good Standing from his/her bar association or law society to at least three (3) months from the date of application
  • copy of Passport
  • passport size photo
  • copy of visa page (for UAE Residents)
  • copy of the Legal Affairs Department Card (if the practitioner is practicing in Dubai)
  • schedule of oral advocacy experience in either Courts, Arbitration or Tribunals. The schedule should highlight the lawyer’s experiences in oral advocacy and outline the current practice of the practitioners and a list of (representative) cases and interlocutory motions and descriptions of the of the practitioner’s involvement in each. The schedule will serve as a basis for the interview which is conducted prior to the acceptance of the application.

Individuals applying for registration in Part II – the procedure will be as follows:

  • registration in Part II of the Register will be provisional until the individual concerned appears before a judge.
  • the Registrar shall attend the first hearing and either: (i) confirm the applicant’s registration as permanent; or (ii) refuse the registration.
  • should the Registrar be minded to refuse registration, they must provide reasons for the refusal in writing.
  • in the event of refusal of registration following the first hearing, the individual concerned may lodge a written and reasoned appeal with the Chief Justice if they are not satisfied with the decision of the Registrar.

An individual applying for registration in Part II of the Register should give the DIFC Courts not less than 7 days’ notice of their intention to appear before a judge, so that the necessary arrangements can be made to ensure the presence of the Registrar. If it is not possible to give sufficient notice, or if no Registrar is available to attend the first hearing, the individual will need to seek permission of the hearing judge to proceed with the hearing in the absence of the Registrar and the individual’s registration in the Register shall remain provisional until the next hearing, at which the Registrar shall attend and either: (i) confirm the applicant’s registration as permanent; or (ii) refuse the registration.

Part II practitioners with limited Rights of Audience may conduct the following advocacy in the DIFC Courts:

  • all Court of First Instance (CFI) applications
  • any application before a Registrar1
  • case management conferences
  • hearings for progress monitoring
  • Small Claims Tribunal (SCT) Cases

Part II lawyers with full Rights of Audience may conduct, in addition to the above, the following advocacy in the DIFC Courts:

  • CFI Trials
  • appeal to the Court of Appeal
  • an application for injunction
  • application to strike out a claim or a defence (including want of jurisdiction)

Renewals

Registrations are valid for one year and are renewed upon proving the required documents and payment of the associated renewal fees. Several reminder emails are sent to registered practitioners before the date of expiry.

If a Part I or Part II practitioner does not renew their registration (including the payment) before the expiry date, their registration will be suspended. The firm or practitioner will need to pay the full registration fee in order to re-register.

Supporting documents required for Part I renewal application:

  • Copy of firm’s Professional License (and copy of the Dubai Legal Affairs Department license if the firm is Located in Dubai)
  • For each lawyer authorised to issue and conduct proceedings on behalf of the firm, please provide the following documents:
  • Copy of the current Practising Certificate, or letter of Good Standing from the bar association or law society to at least three (3) months from the date of application
  • Copy of the Legal Affairs Department Card (if practicing in Dubai)

Supporting documents required for Part II renewal application:

  • Copy of current Practising Certificate or letter of Good Standing from the bar association or law society to at least three (3) months from the date of application
  • Copy of the Legal Affairs Department Card (if practicing in Dubai)

Addition or Removal of Lawyer(s) under Part I

In order for a practitioner to be added under the firm’s Part I registration, the admin of the firm may request for this through the online portal, attaching the below documents. Once the request is received, the application will be reviewed prior to acceptance.

The firm must provide the following documents must be provided:

  • copy of their Practicing Certificate or a letter of Good Standing from their bar association or law society to at least three (3) months from the date of application
  • copy of the Legal Affairs Department Card (if the practitioner is practicing in Dubai)
  • copy of Passport
  • copy of visa page (for UAE Residents)
  • passport size photo

In order for a practitioner to be removed under the firm’s Part I registration, the firm must provide a letter signed by the managing partner/senior partner addressed to the DIFC Courts by e-mail to registration@difccourts.ae requesting the same.

IMPORTANT NOTES:

  • pursuant to Article 7 (b) of the Order, it is required that the Part II applicant possesses the right to conduct litigation or a Rights of audience before the superior courts of the jurisdiction in which he/she practices (the ‘Jurisdiction’). The interpretation of Article 7 (b) remains that the registration with the Home Bar Association is in present tense and therefore, a current practicing certificate must be submitted in order to maintain a registration with the DIFC Courts. In the event that a good standing letter is provided, it must clearly identify that the applicant is currently actively registered with their Jurisdiction (including participating in the mandatory CLPD requirements, if any)
  • pursuant to Article 7 (b) of the Order, it is required that the Part I lawyer provides a current practicing certificate in order to maintain a registration with the DIFC Courts. In the event that a good standing letter is provided, it must clearly identify that the applicant is currently actively registered with their Jurisdiction (including participating in the mandatory CLPD requirements, if any)
  • qualified lawyers from the UK, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore and Canada who are appointed as Queen’s Counsel or Senior Counsel are exempted from the Part II interview and observation during the first appearance.
  • lawyers with a civil law background who apply for Part II, and who have more than 5 years of advocacy experience but with minimum knowledge of the Common Law system, will only be granted limited Rights of Audience
  • an upgrade from limited to full Rights of Audience will be granted once the following criteria has been met:
    • the lawyer has been registered with the DIFC Courts in Part II for a minimum of 3 years at the time of the application of the upgrade; and
    • the lawyer has conducted advocacy in the DIFC Courts in a minimum of 10 applications at the time of the application of the upgrade.
  • Part II practitioner may appear before the DIFC Courts without a Part I on the record, however, they are not authorised to file documents on behalf of the client or communicate with the Registry (unless directed otherwise by the DIFC Courts)
  • the Registrar may at any time, after a Part I (lawyer) or Part II registration has been confirmed, re-assess and recommend that the registration be re-considered. In this case, the concerned practitioner may be subject to a probationary period of 6 months or until the next appearance before the DIFC Courts after which the registration shall be either suspended or confirmed. The concerned practitioner may be required to consider undertaking certain training, or a test designated by the DIFC Courts in order to maintain its registration.
  • in the event that a (Part I and Part II) registration has been suspended, and the applicant applies to renew, the Registrar may request that the applicant follows the full registration process (including filing the required documents) and re-assess whether the applicant remains eligible for registration with the DIFC Courts
  • Part I and Part II registered practitioners must inform the DIFC Courts, at the time of registration, whether there is (or has been) any code of conduct proceedings against him/her – the DIFC Courts shall then decide if any further steps should be taken in terms of the registration. The DIFC Court reserves the right to vary the set-out procedures relevant to registration in the interest of justice. Further, the DIFC Court may request evidence or a finding by a court or disciplinary or regulatory body including the facts relied upon in connection with the current proceedings or the decision found by the regulator.
  • a legal practitioner has an ongoing duty, owing an obligation to inform the DIFC Courts promptly about anything related to breaches of code of conduct, or any change to information previously disclosed to the DIFC Courts in support of their application, after it has been made. The obligation continues once the legal practitioner has been registered
  • Registered practitioners should refer to the DIFC Courts Code of Conduct when they initially retain clients in DIFC Courts related matters

NOTE: These guidelines apply to all existing and new registrations/renewals.

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