DIFC Courts

27 December 2004

DIFC guarantees judicial independence of financial centre

The Dubai International Financial Centre today expressed its gratitude to His Highness Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai, for the enactment of two new laws establishing the Judicial Authority and the independent court system for the Centre.

The DIFC has been actively involved in the development of these laws, which are designed to ensure the highest international standards of legal procedure. It has solicited the views of major global institutions locating or planning to locate in the Centre and shaped the judicial framework to meet their needs. The DIFC understands international requirements for certainty, flexibility and efficiency and has reflected all these needs in the framework.

“Institutions operating in the DIFC can be sure that they will be doing business in a familiar and reliable environment. Not only do we guarantee the quality of our legal system, but we will go further and allow all contracting parties to select another jurisdiction of their own choice, if they so wish. Dubai is the first centre in the region to provide this opportunity”, said Dr. Omar Bin Sulaiman, Director General of the Dubai International Financial Centre.

Dr Habib Al Mulla, Chairman of the Dubai Financial Services Authority Board (DFSA) said, “The newest pillar of the DIFC’s legal framework, the court system is the latest example of the international standards the DIFC is introducing to the Middle East region. The laws provide for a new court system designed especially for the DIFC and the sophisticated transactions that will be conducted within it.”

•   The law establishing the Judicial Authority at the DIFC establishes and sets out the jurisdiction of the court, allowing for the independent administration of justice in the DIFC; and
•   The DIFC Courts Law sets out the powers, procedures, functions and administration of the court.

A vital component of the DIFC, the DIFC Courts will operate a court of first instance and a court of appeal. The DIFC Courts deals exclusively with all the cases and claims arising out of the DIFC and DIFC operations.

A key feature of the laws is that they have been carefully crafted to provide legal certainty along with commercial flexibility. The introduction of these two crucial concepts into the independent judicial system for the DIFC is another example of the international standards upon which the DIFC is built.

The independent court system of the DIFC allows for a matter to be heard either within the DIFC Courts or in a court of another jurisdiction if the parties so wish. In addition, the DIFC Laws are applicable by default unless the parties choose the laws of another jurisdiction. This flexibility takes account of the different circumstances and requirements of companies and institutions and allows them to ensure a dispute is heard within the legal framework which best suits them.

‘The enactment of the two laws is a fundamental cornerstone for the financial market we are building. Establishing a court system which is suited to hear sophisticated financial civil and commercial matters is crucial for participants in the DIFC who need to resolve disputes quickly, efficiently and to the high standards they would expect in most developed jurisdictions’, Dr Habib Al Mulla, said.

‘The DIFC is the first centre in the region to offer a comprehensive legal framework that is similar to those in London, New York, Singapore and Tokyo. Each new development adds another pillar of strength and support to that framework and to the DIFC.

‘The independent system is vitally important as it will help to build confidence for the major banks and financial institutions who locate in the DIFC’, Dr Habib Al Mulla said.