Commercial claims on the rise at DIFC Courts

  • Court of First Instance (CFI) sees 17% increase in cases, with the Small Claims Tribunal witnessing 67% rise in volume of claims
  • Development of new international avenues for enforcing judgments and orders
  • Total value of enforcement claims rose 24% to AED 3.4 billion

Dubai, United Arab Emirates; 19 February 2018: DIFC Courts today revealed its key figures for the full year 2017, with a volume of 520 cases across all divisions, delivering steady growth for the English-language common law courts.

Claims at the main Court of First Instance (CFI) increased to 54, up 17% year-on-year, with the settlement rate increasing from 83% to 88%. In addition, enforcement claims rose to AED 3.4 billion, from AED 2.75 billion in 2016 – a 26% year-on-year increase.

DIFC Courts Chief Justice Michael Hwang, said: “Our success as a jurisdiction of choice for businesses and individuals is due to the high quality of our bench and the value of service through judgments, both of which contribute to local and global trust and confidence. We are mid-way through our five-year strategy and will maintain our rate of progress, channelling our energy and drive for excellence into our ambition to be one of the most service-oriented and connected courts in the world. Through ongoing work in 2018, we will continue to provide a more efficient, multi-pronged, and holistic suite of services for dispute resolution.”

The value of Small Claims Tribunal (SCT) claims and counterclaims increased 75% in 2017, to AED 36.2 million, from AED 20.7 million in 2016. The settlement rate for the award-winning SCT also rose to 85%, a 10% increase from 2016. In a move designed to help people and businesses resolve disputes more quickly, in 2017 the DIFC Courts’ SCT also introduced a mechanism to allow claimants the option to use direct and instant messaging to give defendants notice as part of an expanded range of e-services.

Amna Al Owais, Chief Executive & Registrar, DIFC Courts, said: “In 2017, DIFC Courts continued to strengthen relationships with local institutions across Dubai and the UAE, as well as forge more agreements with the world’s most respected civil and common law jurisdictions, developing greater recognition of our Courts throughout the commercial world. As a preferred or exclusive default jurisdiction for dispute resolution, we have been trusted to settle the region’s landmark commercial disputes for a decade. Our primary objective is to enable business certainty through a court system that delivers fair and efficient justice.”

In line with the goal of being the world’s most connected judicial system, the DIFC Courts continued to formalise new partnerships with legal systems at home and abroad throughout 2017. Within the UAE these included Abu Dhabi Judicial Department (ADJD) and Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC). In Asia and Africa, successful partnerships were completed with the Federal Court of Malaysia, Hangzhou Arbitration Commission and the High Court of Zambia.

The DIFC Courts continued to pioneer innovations in 2017. In addition to a new mobile-enabled web-based Case Management System (CMS), a major partnership was established with Microsoft, as well as the formation of a new division set up for the most complex construction and technology disputes.

All updates from the DIFC Courts can be viewed in the newly released Annual Review 2017.

Go to Annual Review

About the DIFC Courts

The UAE’s DIFC Courts administer a unique English-language common law system – offering swift, independent justice to settle local and international commercial or civil disputes. The Courts, based in Dubai, provide certainty through transparent, enforceable judgments from internationally-recognised judges, who adhere to the highest global legal standards. The DIFC Courts are independent from, but complementary to, the UAE’s Arabic-language civil law system – offering a choice that strengthens both processes while ensuring public access to world-class justice.

In October 2011, a decree of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, opened the DIFC Courts’ jurisdiction to businesses from all across the GCC region and beyond to provide the international business community with access to one of the most advanced commercial courts in the world.

The DIFC Courts were established under laws enacted by the late HH Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai in September 2004.  The laws establishing the DIFC Courts are designed to ensure that the DIFC Courts provide the certainty, flexibility and efficiency expected by Court users. Nearly 1,180 cases have been resolved through the DIFC Courts since 2008, while over 90% of Small Claims Tribunal cases are concluded within three weeks. The Courts’ community-focused approach encourages early settlement, while their successful track record supports Dubai’s growing status as an international business hub.

In line with HH Sheikh Mohammed’s vision, the DIFC Courts serve to develop the UAE national workforce and enhance the competitiveness of Emirati advocates. The DIFC Courts are spearheading training programmes predominantly aimed at local Emirati lawyers, which offer knowledge of, and qualifications in, the English-language common law system. 

Press Release: Commercial claims on the rise at DIFC Courts - English


Press Release: Commercial claims on the rise at DIFC Courts - Arabic


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