On 1 September 2008, the DIFC issued a new Arbitration Law (DIFC Law No. 1 of 2008). The enactment of the new DIFC Arbitration Law, together with the establishment of the DIFC-LCIA Arbitration Centre in February 2008, significantly enhances the DIFC as a venue for resolving international commercial disputes. In particular, the requirement in the old arbitration law for disputes to have a DIFC connection has been removed. Therefore, DIFC arbitration is now open to parties, wherever they are based, who choose to use it to settle commercial disputes. For more information on the new Law, please click here.

The DIFC-LCIA Centre has also published its own arbitration rules, which set out how the arbitration will be conducted and are closely based on the widely used LCIA Arbitration Rules.

Regarding enforcement, DIFC-LCIA arbitration awards can be enforced internationally under the New York Convention (the UAE acceded to the New York Convention in 2006). Further, a DIFC Court judgment can be obtained on a DIFC-LCIA arbitration award. That judgment can, under arrangements already in place, be converted into a judgment of the Dubai courts which will be enforceable regionally under the Riyadh Convention for Judicial Cooperation. If enforcement proceedings are likely to be brought in the Middle East region, this will be a key consideration in deciding whether to opt for DIFC-LCIA arbitration.

Recent developments have therefore significantly enhanced the reach and appeal of DIFC-LCIA arbitration. DIFC now offers an arbitration law based closely on the UNCITRAL model law, an arbitration centre associated with the highly regarded LCIA, an independent, common law style court system and a location within a Middle Eastern state which is a signatory to the New York Convention.