DIFC Courts
  • International Working Group of public and private sector bodies and experts tasked with exploring space-related legal innovations
  • Creation of a Space Dispute Guide, encompassing a set of proposals to support global space-related disputes
  • Training of judges to become space-related dispute experts

Dubai, United Arab Emirates; 1 February 2021: In 2021, the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Courts and the Dubai Future Foundation (DFF) will embark on a new Courts of the Future initiative, activating Courts of Space.

The launch of the project signals to the international space community the intent of the UAE to play a leading role in advancing its judicial systems to specifically direct capacity and capability to commercial space-related disputes.

In 2020, the UAE became a key player in space exploration; it aims to reinforce its position by enhancing its standing as a global business centre for trade, logistics, finance, innovation and technology. With the launch of the UAE Hope probe the country has massively boosted its science capacity with over 50 peer-reviewed contributions to international space science research.

The nation has also generated significant additional value in logistics by creating new manufacturing capacities and know-how. There are already multiple businesses outside the realm of the space industry that have benefited from knowledge transfer. Ultimately, the UAE’s Mars mission has generated transformative value in building capacity for a fundamentally different future national economy – one with a much stronger role for science and innovation.

Zaki Azmi, Chief Justice, DIFC Courts, said: “An integrated space industry, supported by human resources, infrastructure, and scientific research, is under way. The Courts of Space is a global initiative that will operate in parallel, helping to build a new judicial support network to serve the stringent commercial demands of international space exploration in the 21st century. As space commerce becomes ever more global and countries ever more connected, diverse, and nimble economies will need to enable growth. Complex commercial agreements will also require an equally innovative judicial system to keep pace, offering assurance and certainty to support and protect businesses.”

The Courts of Space initiative will have three main objectives. As a first step, an international working group of public and private sector bodies and experts will be tasked with exploring space-related legal innovations and providing an outlook on potential outcomes of scenarios revolving around space-related disputes.

Further exploration will follow with the creation of a Space Dispute Guide, encompassing a set of guidelines to support such space-related disputes, with the parallel training of judges to become space-related dispute experts after having received courses on space regulations by international bodies and regional agencies.

His Excellency Khalfan Belhoul, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Dubai Future Foundation, said: “The UAE space industry is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the country. In a short span of time, the UAE has joined the world's leading nations in signposting significant space wins. In 2019, we launched the MBR Space Settlement Challenge and allocated AED 2 million in seed funding to benefit 35 teams of scientists worldwide. We've organised a 'Space on Earth Forum' in partnership with United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) to provide an overview of technological advancements made in exploring space and its association in enhancing living conditions on Earth.”

“In addition, DFF also partnered with the UAE Space Agency to organise the Future of Space: Space Settlement & Emerging Technologies webinar that examined emerging technologies capable of enabling longer-term space settlement in line with the UAE's strategic vision for space research and exploration. Our partnership with the DIFC Courts on the Courts of Space initiative marks yet another step in the UAE's efforts to expand its nascent space sector. And as part of our mandate at the Foundation, we are committed to exploring and forecasting future trends, testing innovative technologies and if needed, introducing new legislations and develop existing ones to support our drive in becoming the leading city of the future, and strengthening Dubai’s position as a knowledge-based economy.”

Established in 2004, the Dubai International Financial (DIFC) Courts is Dubai’s English language common law judicial system and forms a key part of the legal system of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It was established with the specific objective to enable the international community in the UAE to have greater confidence in the Emirate’s legal framework and to further strengthen investment and trade relations with the UAE.

In 2017, the Courts of the Future was launched by the DIFC Courts and the Dubai Future Foundation (DFF) with a mandate to explore diverse legal technology 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.