DIFC Courts

Creating a level playing field

13 Jul 2020


By Reem Al Shihhe, Chief Operating Officer, DIFC Courts

Technology has been central to the DIFC Courts’ operating model since starting operations over a decade ago and we have been leading the way when it comes to innovation, which has enabled us to transition mindsets from ‘courts-as-a-place’ to courts-as-a service’. For us, this service excellence comes hand-in-hand with innovation.

Among the many technologies the courts have pioneered to increase access to justice, is the region’s first digitally integrated courtroom and re-engineered state-of-the-art e-Court Management System (CMS) in 2016, as well as the region’s first ‘paperless’ e-bundling solution in 2018.

These early tech adoptions are now the bedrock that fortunately enables the DIFC Courts to maintain all core services during this period of physical closure. By increasing utilisation of our existing videoconferencing and teleconferencing facilities for applications and hearings, we are enabling court users and the public to access extensive eServices remotely from any smartphone, tablet, or desktop devices.

In an era of significant disruption, we have invested massively in emerging technologies to stay ahead of the curve. Instant access to information has perhaps had the biggest influence on the way we run our operations, particularly vital within the legal sector, where hordes of data needs to be easily available.

With all this technological implementation, we haven’t stopped there. But where next? Expectations from the private sector increasingly require the bold engagement of public service. What should we as Courts be focusing on for the future? We continue to look forward, seeking out new technology to further increase access to our services for the public.

The DIFC Courts’ ambition, through continued outreach to global judicial systems, is to contribute in creating a level playing field between businesses, by re-engineering the way commercial justice is designed and delivered.

The future of commercial courts may be one of supporting supply chains operating virtually, with dispute resolution encoded into the blockchain, with virtual currency and with the most likely dispute being one of coding. Those supply chains will develop and advance to the point that smart contracts will replace traditional contracts, and we’ll see them become universal even for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) operating on a public blockchain.

The Courts of the Future was launched by the DIFC Courts and the Dubai Future Foundation (DFF) in 2017 with a mandate to explore diverse legal tech. topic areas and to provide research and thought leadership on promoting and encouraging contemporary methods of greater accessibility and efficiency to court users across the globe.

This think tank has enabled the DIFC Courts to streamline its major legal tech projects under the Courts of the Future, pooling talent and resources from global partners and experts across the fields of law, technology, IT and business, assembled to help legal systems accommodate the accelerating growth of technology.

This new era of legal technological disruption, working to replace outdated processes with digital technology is the key to creating real legal efficiency and certainty for businesses, even during these uncertain times.

Aligning with the UAE Vision 2021 and the Dubai Smart Government initiative that work towards developing a knowledge-based economy through the adoption of technology in all services, we continue to drive the economy and work towards the Government’s initiatives despite challenges that come our way.