An overview of the Centre’s three independent bodies and the associated laws and regulations
The Dubai International Financial Centre ("DIFC") was launched in accordance with United Arab Emirates (UAE) Federal Decree No. 35 of 2004 as a part of Dubai’s strategic vision to diversify its economic resources and attract capital and investments in the region. It is a Financial Free Zone defined in Federal Law No. 8 of 2004. An independent jurisdiction within the UAE, DIFC is empowered to create its own legal and regulatory framework for all civil and commercial matters.
The following three independent bodies have been established at the DIFC to enable and support the growth and development of businesses in the Centre: the DIFC Authority, the Dubai Financial Services Authority ("DFSA") and the Dispute Resolution Authority ("DRA").
Federal Law No. 8 of 2004 on “The Financial Free Zones in the United Arab Emirates” (the Financial Free Zone Law) mainly.
- Allows the creation of a Financial Free Zone in any Emirate of the UAE, by a Federal Decree.
- Exempts the Financial Free Zones and the Financial Activities from all Federal civil and commercial laws.
- Confirms the application of Federal criminal laws in the Financial Free Zones, including the Federal Laws on Anti-Money Laundering;
- Prohibits DIFC authorised firms from dealing in “deposit taking from the State’s markets […] [and] in the UAE Dirham.
- Restricts DIFC authorised insurers’ dealings in the State to carrying out re-insurance activities.
Federal Decree No. 35 of 2004 (English)
Federal Decree No. 35 of 2004 created the DIFC as a Financial Free Zone in Dubai (the DIFC Law). The Federal Cabinet also made two Cabinet Resolutions that.
- Set out the geographic boundaries of the DIFC.
- Allow the centre bodies and authorised firms to operate outside the DIFC for the first four years because the DIFC was still under construction.
Dubai Law No. 9 of 2004 (English)
Dubai Law No. 9 of 2004 on “The Establishment of the Dubai International Financial Centre” acknowledges the creation of the DIFC and:
- Recognises the financial and administrative independence of the DIFC
- Creates the DIFC centre bodies, which include the DIFC Authority, DFSA and DRA.
- Exempts the DIFC from Dubai laws and regulations, under certain conditions.
Cabinet Resolution No. 28 of 2007 on “Implementing Federal Law No. 8 of of 2004 on Financial Free Zones” further detailed certain provisions of the Financial Free Zones Law.