DIFC Courts


DIFC Courts sign memorandum with counterparts in Southern District of New York

Dubai, United Arab Emirates; 23 March 2015: UAE-USA business ties were boosted today with the signing of a cooperation agreement between the DIFC Courts and United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (SDNY), the oldest and busiest district court in America. The two courts’ respective chief justices met in Dubai to agree a Memorandum of Guidance (MoG) that provides companies operating in both markets additional contract certainty by setting out the procedures for the mutual enforcement of money judgements.

This is the latest in a chain of enforcement memoranda signed in recent years by the DIFC Courts with leading international jurisdictions, including the Commercial Court of England and Wales, the Supreme Court of Singapore, the Federal Court of Australia, the New South Wales Supreme Court, and the High Court of Kenya (Commercial and Admiralty Division).

With jurisdiction over New York’s finance centres, including Wall Street, the SDNY is considered to be among the most important commercial courts in the world. Following the signing of the MoG, the Court’s Chief Judge, Loretta A. Preska, reinforced the significance of the memorandum during her keynote address at the second DIFC Courts Lecture of 2015, titled “The Elements of Commerce in the Twenty-First Century: How Commercial Courts Enhance a City’s Position as a Financial, Commercial and Legal Hub.”

Chief Judge Loretta A. Preska said: “New York and Dubai have a strong bilateral trade relationship as two major centers of global finance and commerce.  Thus both have a shared interest in ensuring predictable, efficient, and fair resolution of commercial disputes.  Because commerce is now so international, it is more necessary than ever for judgments rendered in one court to be easily recognized in other countries.  Today, two of the world’s most vibrant commercial centers have taken a huge leap forward by providing guidance for business people and lawyers about our respective countries’ abilities and willingness to recognize judgments in the other.”

The strength of the UAE-US economic relationship has helped to create an estimated 200,000 jobs in each country. Non-oil bilateral trade was valued at $26.9 billion in 2013 and the UAE is the United States’ single largest export market in the Middle East. The memorandum will be particularly important to the more than 1,000 American firms that have a presence in the Emirates, and to UAE companies which are believed to have trade relations with every state in America.

Michael Hwang, Chief Justice of the DIFC Courts, said: “Much of the trade between the US and UAE originates from, or is routed via, New York and Dubai, so there is an imperative for the courts systems of both jurisdictions to work together to support the needs of business. This memorandum with one of the world’s premier commercial courts builds on our existing comprehensive enforcement regime, and brings additional certainty to investors during a time of rising economic confidence in both the UAE and United States.”

The Southern District Court commemorated its 225th anniversary in 2014.  It was the first Court to convene under the new United States Constitution in 1789 and for this reason it is often referred to as the “Mother Court.”

Since their jurisdiction was opened to businesses worldwide in October 2011, the DIFC Courts have established one of the world’s strongest enforcement regimes. The judgments of the DIFC Courts can be enforced internationally through treaties such as the GCC Protocol and Riyadh Convention; treaties with China and France; and arrangements with many common law courts overseas.

 Link to the Memorandum of Guidance (MoG)