DIFC Courts

Dubai, United Arab Emirates; 10 December 2013: The Middle East’s first international conference on court excellence witnessed His Highness Sheikh Maktoum Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Chairman of Dubai Judicial Council and President of the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), swear in three new judges to add further commercial and jurisprudence experience to DIFC Courts’ judicial bench.

Originating from the UAE, Malaysia and Australia respectively, H.E. Justice Shamlan Al Sawalehi, Tun Zaki Azmi, former Chief Justice of Malaysia, and the Honourable Roger Giles QC will join the Courts’ bench, bringing considerable expertise of commercial law to the Court. DIFC Courts already has a strong reputation for its ability to provide guidance and confidence when adjudicating and managing commercial disputes within its jurisdiction and beyond. It has developed this enviable reputation by demonstrating the ability to draw international and local experience together with specialised expertise in areas such as Islamic finance, while underpinning long-term strategic Emiratisation goals.

The appointments are consistent with the goals of DIFC Courts, amongst which are to be recognised as the most technically sophisticated and to be among the leading commercial courts in the world. In line with this goal, DIFC Courts recently became the first court in the world to achieve International Standard for Service Excellence (TISSE) certification as recognition of its commitment to consistent delivery of customer service excellence. The appointment of judges with such expertise and knowledge of the operations of local and other jurisdictions will undeniably enhance DIFC Courts’ progress in further attaining these goals.

Commenting on the appointments, Michael Hwang, Chief Justice of the DIFC Courts, said: “The judicial bench of the DIFC Courts comprises highly experienced international and Emirati judges with specific skills and expertise to match the nature of the cases that present themselves to our courtroom. Consistent with this approach, all three new appointments bring a knowledge and understanding of the needs of commerce as well as a long experience with the fundamental principles of the law, giving the Courts additional expertise in areas such as Islamic finance as well as increasing the number of Emirati judges on our bench. Confidence in our judiciary is the cornerstone of our reputation. This reputation gives an assurance to international and local corporations that business can be conducted within our jurisdiction and in the Middle East on a long term, sustainable basis.”

The appointment of H.E Justice Shamlan Al Sawalehi continues the DIFC Courts’ aim of combining international legal knowledge and expertise to UAE nationals. He has been elevated to the Court of First Instance having served as a Small Claims Tribunal Judge at the DIFC Courts. H.E Justice Shamlan Al Sawalehi has over 16 years of experience and knowledge in international disputes in both Common and Civil law systems. He previously held the posts of Director of Strategic Affairs at The Executive Office of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister, Ruler of Dubai. Prior to that, Al Sawalehi served as an enforcement manager for Dubai Financial Services Authority, having previously held the position of Senior Public Prosecutor with the Dubai Public Prosecution Department for five years, in both the criminal and civil departments.

H.E Justice Shamlan Al Sawalehi said: “I am deeply proud to join a bench of truly exceptional judges with an unparalleled capacity to deal with highly complex commercial disputes. DIFC Courts’ judges have earned the trust of the international business community and I look forward to working alongside my distinguished colleagues.”

Justice Tun Zaki Azmi, previously held the posts of Chief Justice of Malaysia and President of the Court of Appeal. Beginning his career as a barrister in London in 1969, he is recognised internationally as an expert in court excellence and Islamic finance.

Commenting on his appointment, Justice Tun Zaki Azmi, said: “It is a singular honour to be appointed to this bench. I am particularly grateful to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum for his trust in appointing me as a Judge of the DIFC Courts. God willing my role will allow me to contribute and deliver my best for the benefit of the DIFC Courts specially and to the Emirates generally.”

Justice Roger Giles has over forty years’ experience in the legal profession with a particular expertise in commercial law and equity. He was formerly Chief Judge of the Commercial Division of the Supreme Court of New South Wales and also served on the Court of Appeal. This is specifically relevant in that legal and business ties between Australia and the UAE were cemented through the signing of a Memorandum of Guidance (MoG) between the New South Wales Supreme Court and the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Courts, on 9 September 2013.

Justice Roger Giles commented: “I am delighted to be appointed to the bench of DIFC Courts. I have long had a high regard for its position and development as amongst the best in the world in terms of commercial law and its application. I look forward to seeking to maintain this exemplary reputation in the independent administration of justice.”

The announcement of the three new judges was aligned with the sixth annual conference of the International Association for Court Administration (IACA), which is being held in Dubai in cooperation with the DIFC Courts and the Dubai Courts. The event themed “Court Excellence in a Changing World” is one of the “Initiatives for Legal Excellence” of His Highness Sheikh Maktoum Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, President of the DIFC and Chairman of the Dubai Judicial Council.