DIFC Courts Appoint New Judges

  • Appoints first female Judge in the UAE
  • The First two Emirati judges to become common law International Judges

The Dubai International Financial Centre Courts ("DIFC Courts") today announced the appointment of six new judges to interpret laws and issue orders for the enforcement of laws in the Dubai International Financial Centre ("DIFC"): David A R Williams QC; Sir Anthony Colman; Tan Seri Dato Siti Norma Yaakob; Sir John Chadwick; Omar Juma Mohamed Saif Al Fajeer Al Muhairi; and Ali Shamis Mohamed Shamis Al Madhani.

The new judge's today swore the oath in front of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

They will offer their expertise to all facets of the Court, with particular importance for the Court of Appeal, bringing with them a wealth of international expertise and impressive legal track records. Furthermore, it was a landmark occasion, with the welcoming of the first female judge to join the DIFC Courts.

Commenting on the appointments, Dr Omar Bin Sulaiman, Governor of the DIFC, said: "As the fastest growing financial centre in the world, the DIFC has undergone immense growth and expansion. In line with this rapid growth, and as an integral part of the DIFC's mission, the DIFC Courts offer the highest possible standards in legal dispute resolution with a judicial system based on international best practices. As such, it is with great pleasure that we welcome six highly distinguished judges onto the DIFC Courts' panel to work with us and maintain these high standards. In addition, we are proud to welcome to the DIFC the first two Emirati judges to become common law international judges."

Sir Anthony Evans, Chief Justice, DIFC Courts said: "The DIFC has further achieved new milestone by appointing six prominent judges to the DIFC Courts, who have varied and extensive experience in different common law jurisdictions around the world. These appointments will complement our already impressive panel of judges, and companies within our jurisdiction can rest assured that all cases which come to the DIFC Courts will be heard and dealt with effectively."

David Williams QC has over thirty years' experience as counsel in commercial litigation before New Zealand and overseas Courts, Tribunals and Arbitral Tribunals. He has also served as a Justice on the High Court of New Zealand and has developed a strong emphasis on international commercial arbitration and international law.

Sir Anthony Colman has been a Judge of the Commercial Court in the High Court, London from 1992 to 2007, specialising in commercial litigation of all kinds, in particular: international oil and gas industry disputes; international sole agency and joint-venture disputes; primary insurance and reinsurance disputes; international banking and credit disputes; commercial fraud; and hearing innumerable cases on arbitration law and practice.

Tan Seri Dato Siti Norma Yaakob, a lady Muslim judge from Malaysia who becomes the first female common law judge in the UAE. She was previously Chief Judge of Malaya and has also acted as judge on the Malaysian Court of Appeal and the Federal Court of Malaysia. In addition, she has received a number of prestigious legal awards, held prominent titles of law associations, and has represented her country at a number of international law conferences.

Sir John Chadwick recently retired as Judge of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales, where he spent the past ten years. He also has a long professional career in litigation and advisory work, principally in insolvency, property, company, banking and insurance matters, including litigation in Malaysia, Hong Kong and Bermuda.

Omar Juma Mohamed Saif Al Fejeer Al Muhairi and Ali Shamis Mohamed Shamis Al Madhani were appointed as Senior Judicial Officers at the DIFC Courts in August 2005 and were appointed as Small Claims Tribunal Judges in 2007. They both started their legal careers in 1994 as Public Prosecutors and in 1998 they were appointed as one of the first Dubai Court judges. In 2004, they joined the Dubai Financial Services Authority, to provide expertise on local issues and the application of UAE and Dubai legislation to the DFSA. During their tenure as Dubai Court judges, Omar and Ali dealt with a large number of major criminal, commercial and civil cases. They were also both appointed to the Committee which established the DIFC Courts.

Both Ali and Omar underwent extensive language and common law training at the School of Oriental and African Studies in the UK for a period of 2 years with Ali obtaining his Masters in International and Comparative Commercial Law.

The Dubai International Financial Centre Courts were established under the laws enacted by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in December 2004. The DIFC Courts are an independent judicial system which has jurisdiction over matters arising from and within the DIFC.

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