Dubai Arbitration Week 2023 International Conference

Our arbitration team attended a truly renowned international conference Dubai Arbitration Week. 

Throughout the week, lawyers, experts, arbitrators and business representatives shared experiences, exchanged contacts and dived into the most topical aspects of litigation and arbitration disputes in numerous sessions and discussions. The focus was on the Middle East (GCC) region, but the obvious feature of international disputes is indeed that they are international, so the purpose of this conference was to bring together representatives from most regions of the world, including the CIS, EU, Asia, Africa, South America, and many others.

What's on the agenda for leading dispute resolution practitioners right now? Below we briefly share some key insights:

  • The UAE is a good choice for those seeking a neutral jurisdiction to resolve their contractual disputes.
  • The specific method and competent authority depend on the needs of the business, but there is definitely room for negotiation - one can choose either a local state court (e.g. ADGM, DIFC courts or onshore Dubai courts) or an alternative arbitration procedure e.g. DIAC or the recently incorporated RAC.
  • DIAC (Dubai International Arbitration Centre) is a young and rapidly growing arbitration institute, which has neatly taken over after the termination of the DIFC-LCIA. Some recent stats: over 340 cases have been registered in the past and new arbitration rules have been adopted.
  • Despite the overall efficiency of the judicial system in the UAE, we recommend to be cautious when drafting an arbitration or other dispute resolution clause if you choose to resolve disputes in the UAE. Each institution and court has its own pros and cons. For example, DIFC courts can issue a WFO (worldwide freezing order), but proceedings in these courts will not suit every business in terms of associated costs and procedure. Onshore courts in the UAE may also look at ASI (anti-suit injunctions) from a different perspective.
  • If we are talking about arbitration (e.g. DIAC), among other things, we would advise to pay attention to the seat of arbitration, especially in the context of the choice between the DIFC (as a free economic zone) and the onshore part of Dubai. Among other things, this determines which court will supervise the arbitration process (the so-called supervising court).
  • The UAE is currently a solid pro-arbitration jurisdiction and there are no particular problems with the recognition and enforcement of local or foreign arbitral awards. However, the UAE has its own peculiarities. As a matter of amusing example, some UAE courts may ask the parties to provide the arbitral award in the original with the arbitrator's signature on each page, which is not done by all institutions and, of course, can be quite a time-consuming process.
  • Although the jurisdiction is generally pro-arbitration, this does not mean that the actual enforcement and recovery of debts is completely unhindered. In particular, in the UAE we recommended to carry out forensic and asset tracing in advance, as this can take some time (from a couple of weeks to several months), depending on the profile of the debtor and its assets.