DIFC Courts
•    Historic first year as fully international commercial court
•    Cases handled up by 40% as case value soars to $169 million

Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 5 May 2013: The DIFC Courts, Dubai’s established English language, commercial common law judicial system, today released their Annual Review for 2012. This shows that the number and value of cases handled by the Courts increased for the sixth successive year.

The DIFC Courts’ Annual Review was presented at a joint ceremony with the Dubai Courts, who released their own Annual Report at the same time – a demonstration of the regular cooperation between the two organisations.The announcement follows the formal presentation of the Annual Review to His Highness Sheikh Maktoum Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, President of the DIFC and Chairman of the Dubai Judicial Council by DIFC Courts’ Chief Justice Michael Hwang.

In the 12 months ending December 31, 2012, the DIFC Courts caseload showed a 40 per cent year-on-year increase: a new record. The value of cases rose more than 400 per cent in the year, from $33 million to just over $169 million, reflecting the increasing complexity of commercial cases coming before the Courts. This growth in caseload was also reflected in the number of DIFC Courts’ registered lawyers – a figure which grew by almost fifty percent to 349 at the year end.

Michael Hwang, Chief Justice of the DIFC Courts, said: “2012 will be remembered as a historic year for the DIFC Courts, as we completed our first 12 months as a fully international commercial court. This strategic shift in our role has seen the DIFC Courts steadily emerge as the forum of choice for English language international dispute resolution in the Middle East. We greatly appreciate His Highness Sheikh Maktoum’s continuing support.”

Chief Justice Hwang explained that the development of the DIFC Courts, based on the highest international standards, contributed directly to the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in developing Dubai as a leading international business hub.

One of the most important issues raised in 2012 was that of enforcement – now that the DIFC Courts are fully international, and are thus able to hear any cases for which they have been selected as judicial forum of choice. The ability to enforce judgments across borders is central to the decisions of businesses and investors when they expand overseas. The DIFC Courts’ detailed ‘Enforcement Guide’ on the enforcement of their judgments has accordingly garnered a positive response in both the UAE and internationally.

Education and training were major focus areas in 2012. Specifically, DIFC Courts opened its Academy. This provides practitioners who have not practised in the DIFC Courts – including those with a civil law background – with an enhanced understanding of international common law and the court procedures applied in the DIFC Courts. This was of particular assistance to English-speaking Emirati and expatriate advocates wishing to practice in the courtroom. The first course was fully subscribed and further courses will be held during 2013. The year also saw the establishment of the DIFC Courts’ first eRegistry training courses to boost efficiency among registered lawyers.

The DIFC Courts and Dubai Courts once again collaborated closely in 2012. As Chief Justice Michael Hwang highlighted: “Perhaps the best example of our cooperation with Dubai Courts was the joint launch in September of the first-ever ‘Initiatives for Legal Excellence’ Programme, under the auspices 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.”

Mark Beer, Registrar of the DIFC Courts, added: “World trade is increasingly seen, in dispute resolution terms, as divided between three zones: the Europe-USA nexus, the Asia-Pacific region – and the Middle East. The DIFC Courts are steadily emerging as the forum of choice for English language international dispute resolution in our region – and we are fully committed to meeting our responsibilities in this role.”