DIFC Courts

The attraction of Ras Al Khaimah as one of the UAE’s top investment destinations has been boosted by new legal steps designed to promote economic growth, secure foreign investment, and protect assets of investors and residents.

The legal package, signed today at the Al Dhait Palace and witnessed by His Highness Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, allows for judgments issued by Dubai’s English-language DIFC Courts to be directly enforced by Ras Al Khaimah’s courts, provided that written contracts explicitly opt-in to the DIFC jurisdiction.

The new agreements pave the way for Ras Al Khaimah government bodies, as well as companies, investors and individuals, to choose the DIFC Courts and the DIFC-LCIA Arbitration Centre to resolve disputes.

In addition, the DIFC Academy of Law will provide customised, world-class legal training for Ras Al Khaimah students and young professionals, in line with His Highness the Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah’s vision for investing in his people.

His Highness Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi said: “For those who invest, work and live in Ras Al Khaimah, the additional choice of this proven English-language legal system offers more prospects for future progress. For investors, we speak the language of international commerce, and for businesses we offer greater certainty and confidence in a legal system recognisable around the world. Individual residents can have even greater trust that their property and assets will be secure here. Taken together, today’s changes are another great example of our vision of the Emirates working hand-in-hand to make the UAE a world-class place to do business.”

The collaboration between the Arabic civil law and English common law legal systems comes as Ras Al Khaimah seeks to further increase the thousands of foreign-owned companies already operating there. The changes will complement Ras Al Khaimah’s existing Arabic-language court system.

The DIFC Courts, established nearly a decade ago as part of the DIFC, have proven highly successful in earning investor trust through offering the protection of a familiar international legal system.

Dr. Michael Hwang, SC, Head of the Dispute Resolution Authority (DRA) and Chief Justice of the DIFC Courts, said: Giving businesses and individuals choice as to how to resolve their disputes is an extremely effective tool to drive foreign direct investment and commerce in Dubai. Ras Al Khaimah’s economy has flourished in recent years. Now, through our cooperation, the emirate is able to offer a full suite of dispute resolution services. Today’s announcement is good news for all investors, businesses and property owners in Ras Al Khaimah, with parties free to choose the legal system to best suit their needs.

Today’s agreements underline Ras Al Khaimah Government’s commitment to provide choice to help companies and individuals solve business problems. Through working together, Ras Al Khaimah and Dubai have reached a major milestone on the road to the UAE’s 2021 Vision of efficient and swift commercial justice.

The economy of Ras Al Khaimah is already widely diversified. A tourism hub, the emirate is home to some of the country’s largest manufacturers including RAK Ceramics, Julphar – Gulf Pharmaceutical Industries, Ashok Leyland and Gulf Cement Company. More than 500 manufacturers and thousands of SMEs are located in Ras Al Khaimah Investment Authority’s two industrial parks, while Ras Al Khaimah Free Trade Zone is the base for over 8,600 international companies.

The DIFC Courts administer an English-language common law system that complements the UAE’s Arabic-language civil law system. They have since become one of the world’s most connected courts, with enforcement agreements in places with many of the UAE’s key trading partners. The DIFC Courts’ world class bench of judges, exceptionally efficient processes and service-oriented culture have earned the confidence of the international business and legal community. In 2015, the main court handled cases valued at approximately AED 4.46 billion, with virtually all international in nature, while the Small Claims Tribunal’s workload nearly doubled to 216 cases.