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A Dubai Arbitration Week Overview & The New Arbitration Law (2018)

The United Arab Emirates has recently witnessed a revolutionary step taken by the legislators to codify a full comprehensive law of arbitration. During Dubai Arbitration week, that took place during mid- November, arbitrators and legal counsel from all over the UAE got a chance to fully realize and discuss how the new Arbitration law, Federal Law No. 6 of 2018 (the “New Arbitration Law”), is going to impact the practical application of this effective method of dispute resolution. Previously in UAE, the arbitration law was legislated with a single a chapter in the Federal Law No. 11 of 1992 on the Civil Procedures Law (as amended) (the “Civil Procedures Code”).

Briefly, arbitration is a dispute resolution method where both parties come to an agreement to be bound by a third parties decision concerning particular dispute. Arbitration has become favorable method for dispute resolution in recent years all around the world and the region due to its cost effectiveness, efficiency and flexibility for the parties involved. UAE has emerged as one of the preferred seats of arbitration by the parties, and with the promulgation of the New Arbitration Law, the position of UAE as an arbitration friendly jurisdiction has strengthened. Arbitration centers in UAE such as DIAC, Abu Dhabi Commercial Conciliation and Arbitration Centre and so on, have their own set of procedures based on international best practices, thereby giving parties different choices of rules for administration of their arbitral proceedings. The parties agree to be bound by the judgement that has been taken, making it legally binding. The parties agree to be bound by the judgement that has been taken making it legally binding.

During Dubai Arbitration week, practitioners got the opportunity to fully realize the implications of the New Arbitration Law that finally provided an entire framework to the practice. Our own team attended the integral events that week where they got the opportunity to discuss the most revolutionary aspects of this legislation. Several debates that took place in relation to the definition of arbitrable issues under the new law, in relation to international arbitration in all its forms, as well as foreign arbitral awards and while some arguments were seen as far reaching, these speculative discussions shined the light on the many possibilities now open to parties willing to partake in arbitration.

The most important elements of this law, especially to the clients as well as the practitioners, are the efficient enforcement procedures. As an example, the president of the court or the delegated judge now has the discretion to order the recognition of the arbitral award and its enforcement within sixty days from the date of filing the request. This ensures time efficiency from the state as well as compliance from the parties, and should be seen as encouragement for parties to engage in arbitration as an alternative method for the resolution of their disputes.

Another aspect worth mentioning, covered by the monumental change brought by the New Arbitration Law is the empowerment of the chosen arbitrator to order interim or precautionary measures as it may deem necessary upon request of a party or on its own initiative. By identifying a wide range of interim orders such as order for preservation of evidence, preservation of goods and assets, orders to preserve the status quo and order for restraining other parties from action, arbitrators can be more effective in providing parties with solutions to suit their needs. A practical situation highlighting the advantages of this law, is an intellectual property dispute. Interim injunctions can be vital because without the ability of pressing the pause button on publishing certain material until a dispute is over, resolving it is reduced to the calculation of damages rather than protecting its intellectual property rights.

Our own arbitrators participated in several more discussions outlining the provisions on the composition of an arbitral award, the practical application of how to cure an abuse of process as well as the awaited clarification on the nationality requirement of an arbitration judge. Here at Maha Bin Hendi Law Firm, our extensive arbitration experience can now be complimented by the certainty and the efficiency the New Arbitration Law brings to the industry. We welcome inquiries on all aspects of arbitration including the application of the New Arbitration Law, advising and drafting of arbitration agreements and advising on range of commercial disputes in arbitration.

By Sarah Tarek Yahia
Legal Assistant
© Maha Bin Hendi Law Firm

This Article does not constitute legal advice and refers to legislation as of the date of publication of this Article. Specific legal advice should be taken before acting on any of the topics covered.