Background

Frequency of use

How common is commercial litigation as a method of resolving high-value, complex disputes?

Commercial litigation remains the primary method of resolving high-value, complex disputes in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This is usually the case because of the UAE courts’ wide jurisdictional reach. Having said that, the UAE, particularly Dubai and Abu Dhabi, are advancing alternative dispute resolution forums. In each of these two emirates, there are now several regionally and internationally acclaimed arbitration centres. Moreover, in June 2018, the UAE introduced Federal Law No. 6 of 2018 concerning the Arbitration Law (Arbitration Law). The Arbitration Law is primarily based on the UNCITRAL Model Law and is expected to solidify arbitration as an alternative form of dispute resolution in the UAE.

Litigation market

Please describe the culture and ‘market’ for litigation. Do international parties regularly participate in disputes in the court system in your jurisdiction, or do the disputes typically tend to be regional?

The UAE, both historically and currently, is a business friendly regional and international commercial hub. Local, regional and international corporations occupy the UAE market. All of these players are exposed to and regularly participate in commercial litigations.

Legal framework

What is the legal framework governing commercial litigation? Is your jurisdiction subject to civil code or common law? What practical implications does this have?

It is important to be aware of the multiple legal systems within the UAE and how they interact with one another. The following is a general background to the jurisdictional makeup of the UAE and the various court systems within it.

The UAE is a federation comprised of seven emirates: Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Fujairah and Ras Al Khaimah. Abu Dhabi is the capital of the UAE. In each emirate, UAE federal law applies as well as the laws enacted by each emirate. In cases of conflict, UAE federal law has primacy.

Each emirate is a separate legal jurisdiction. Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah have their own separate local court systems. In these three emirates, there is no supreme court to which appeals can be made. As such, the highest court is the Court of Cassation (CC) in each respective emirate. Below the CC is the court of appeal (CA) and below that is the court of first instance (CFI).

The other emirates use the federal courts. Decisions of the CFI in each of these emirates may be appealed to the CA of that emirate. Decisions of the CA may be appealed to the Federal Supreme Court (FSC). The FSC also retains jurisdiction in matters that include disputes between emirates or between any one or more emirates and the federal government, as well as questions regarding the constitutionality of federal or emirate laws.

The UAE is an Arabic language civil law-based legal system except in respect of two independent financial free zones, which are the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM). The DIFC and ADGM form separate legal jurisdictions. As such, UAE civil and commercial laws do not apply in these two free zones (however, UAE criminal law does apply). Instead, the DIFC and ADGM have enacted their own laws that are substantially based on English law. However, while DIFC laws have existed for a number of years, the ADGM laws are still being drafted and enacted. For the DIFC courts or ADGM courts to have jurisdiction, DIFC or ADGM law must be expressly adopted as the governing law in the parties’ agreement. It will automatically apply if one of the parties is based in the DIFC or ADGM, or the agreement is executed within the DIFC or ADGM or performed (at least partially) within the DIFC or ADGM, unless the parties have expressly provided for some other jurisdiction or arbitration to apply.

Both the DIFC and ADGM have their own English language common law court system, with international judges from England and other Commonwealth countries as well as emirati judges. The DIFC courts have been operating since 2007. The ADGM courts started operating in 2016. There are various other free zones in the UAE that have their own regulations and procedures but are governed by UAE federal law and do not have their own court systems, thus falling under the jurisdictional supervision of the court system of the emirate in which they are located.

It is important to emphasise that UAE laws are not capable of interpretation with a high degree of certainty, as no system of binding judicial precedent exists in the UAE legal system. The DIFC courts and ADGM courts, being common law courts, have a system of binding judicial precedent. The DIFC courts also frequently refer to English and other Commonwealth judgments, which are treated as highly persuasive. The ADGM courts are also expected to do so.

The information provided in this chapter concerns UAE laws, and procedures of the UAE courts. The position under DIFC and ADGM law and the procedures of the DIFC and ADGM courts are not covered herein.

Bringing a claim - initial considerations

Key issues to consider

What key issues should a party consider before bringing a claim?

A party should consider two essential issues before bringing a claim: first, the economic viability of the defendant; and second, the likelihood of the defendant absconding or phoenixing. These two issues are common among smaller foreign entities. A party is advised to consider a precautionary attachment application to ensure that assets are not dissipated during the course of litigation. This is discussed in further detail in question 9.

Establishing jurisdiction

How is jurisdiction established?

As previously stated, UAE courts have a wide interpretation of jurisdiction. UAE courts exercise jurisdiction pursuant to the provisions of Federal Law No. 11 of 1992, as amended, concerning the Civil Procedures Law (CPL). CPL article 20 provides that, except in respect of actions concerning real estate abroad, UAE courts have jurisdiction to hear actions filed against UAE citizens and foreigners who are domiciled in or reside in the UAE. CPL article 21 sets out a list of instances where the UAE courts will have jurisdiction should claims be raised against a foreigner who is not a resident of or domiciled in the UAE. Of particular relevance are CPL articles 21(3) and 21(7). CPL article 21(3) confers jurisdiction upon UAE courts where the action concerns an ‘obligation entered into or performed or that is stipulated to be performed in the [UAE]’. Most importantly, CPL article 21(7) grants jurisdiction to UAE courts if any one of the defendants against whom the claim has been brought is a resident of or domiciled in the UAE; this includes having an address in the UAE.

Any objection to the jurisdiction of the UAE court must be raised at the first hearing of a case; otherwise, the defendant is deemed to have waived his or her objection. However, UAE courts do not usually determine the objection as a separate preliminary procedural matter, and the UAE court may only decide if it holds competent jurisdiction when it renders its final judgment on all the issues. A party seeking to rely on a lack of jurisdiction defence may therefore have to defend the merits of the claim in the event the court determines it has jurisdiction.

Preclusion

Res judicata: is preclusion applicable, and if so how?

Res judicata is codified under CPL article 92. The principle permits a litigant to provide the defence that the claim should be dismissed as it has already been decided on previously.

Applicability of foreign laws

In what circumstances will the courts apply foreign laws to determine issues being litigated before them?

Article 19 of Federal Law No. 5 of 1985, as amended (Civil Code) provides that the form and substance of contractual obligations are governed by the law of the state in which both contracting parties reside, but if they reside in different states then the law of the state in which the contract was concluded applies, unless the parties have agreed on another law or it is apparent from the circumstances that the parties intended for another law to apply.

In practice, a UAE court, if it considers that it has jurisdiction, generally applies UAE law and disregards any provision in a contract that provides for a foreign law to apply. Where UAE courts decide to apply a foreign law, the parties will be required to submit expert legal opinions from those foreign jurisdictions.

Initial steps

What initial steps should a claimant consider to ensure that any eventual judgment is satisfied? Can a defendant take steps to make themselves ‘judgment proof’?

The most common issue in this regard is where a defendant will phoenix the defendant company. This is where a defendant establishes a new company, with a similar name and trading activity as the defendant company, and transfers all of the assets of the defendant company to the phoenixed entity. The most common and recommendable step for a claimant is to apply for a precautionary attachment (discussed in question 9).

Freezing assets

When is it appropriate for a claimant to consider obtaining an order freezing a defendant’s assets? What are the preconditions and other considerations?

A precautionary attachment is the closest proximate to a freezing injunction in the UAE. Precautionary attachments may be sought prior to commencing substantive proceedings or at any time during the course of the proceedings.

CPL article 252 provides the legal process for seizing assets, to ensure satisfaction of a foreign or local court judgment or arbitration award, in circumstances where there is a justifiable risk and apprehension that the assets will be disposed of prior to a final judgment or award being issued. An attachment order will be issued to protect the interests of the claimant if the UAE court is convinced that there is such a risk of dissipation. The purpose of a precautionary attachment order is to secure a genuine claim. Such a claim can be founded on court proceedings or arbitration proceedings pending in the UAE or abroad.

Precautionary attachments are applied for through an ex parte application (ie, on the application of one party alone), and they are usually granted or refused within a few days of being presented to the judge. The court has discretion whether to make an order. UAE courts, especially Dubai courts, have in recent years become reluctant to grant precautionary attachment orders. The usual reason for the court declining to do so is a failure by the applicant to convince the court that there is a risk the debtor may dissipate its assets before a judgment is enforced. The courts have in the past considered there to be no or low risk of dissipation of assets where the party is a longstanding UAE onshore company. Generally, the courts have held that the risk of dissipation of assets meets the threshold to obtain attachments over the assets of companies based in free zones owned by foreign nationals.

Although it may be possible to apply for and obtain a precautionary attachment order, preserving the attachment may be more difficult to achieve. There are several procedural requirements and judicial hurdles that must be overcome.

Pre-action conduct requirements

Are there requirements for pre-action conduct and what are the consequences of non-compliance?

The UAE does not require pre-litigation action; an aggrieved party may immediately commence legal proceedings against a breaching party. That said, it is usual for aggrieved parties to send letters before action. Moreover, the UAE has been attempting to ease the strain on the court system by encouraging parties to submit civil disputes to alternative dispute resolution forums such as reconciliation committees. Abu Dhabi and Dubai have established alternative dispute resolution centres for settling disputes with the aim of reducing the burden on parties and the court system.

Other interim relief

What other forms of interim relief can be sought?

The most common interim remedy is a precautionary attachment as discussed in question 9.

Alternative dispute resolution

Does the court require or expect parties to engage in ADR at the pre-action stage or later in the case? What are the consequences of failing to engage in ADR at these stages?

Some emirates, namely Abu Dhabi and Dubai, have established centres for mediation and conciliation that are ancillary to the courts. Settlements obtained through mediation or conciliation are contractual in nature and may be enforced through the UAE courts.

In Abu Dhabi, civil, labour or personal status disputes must first be submitted to the Reconciliation and Settlement Committee (RSC) or the Family Guidance Section (FGS), which attempt to amicably settle disputes between parties. The parties may apply for a no objection letter from the RSC or the FGS where settlement is impossible. Abu Dhabi courts cannot commence proceedings unless the matter has been first presented to the RSC or the FGS and a no objection letter has been issued.

In Dubai, the Centre for Amicable Resolution of Disputes (CARD) commenced operations in 2012. CARD may consider mediating disputes that involve:

  • the distribution of undivided property;
  • a value not exceeding 50,000 dirham;
  • a request to commission an expert either individually or related to another request;
  • a bank being one of the parties; and
  • actions originally commenced in the Dubai courts where the parties request mediation (this must be approved by the judge).

Certain actions fall outside the jurisdiction of CARD. Disputes that are under the purview of CARD cannot be filed with the Dubai courts unless the dispute is submitted to CARD and a decision by CARD is made referring the dispute to the Dubai courts.

Similar ADR centres are being considered by other emirates in the UAE.

Claims against natural persons versus corporations

Are there different considerations for claims against natural persons as opposed to corporations?

One of the notable differences in litigating against a corporation is, by means of a precautionary attachment, the ability to attach the company’s trade licence, thereby preventing the entity from trading and conducting business. This power, which can be used as an effective tactic in settlement negotiations, is often overlooked by claimants.

Class actions

Are any of the considerations different for class actions, multi-party or group litigations?

UAE law does not legislate for class action lawsuits or for how such suits would be brought or heard in the UAE courts. In theory, a group of claimants may collectively commence legal proceedings against a single defendant. This theory may work in tort claims where various claimants suffered harm as a result of a single defendant (eg, a group of passengers on a bus). However, this is difficult in contract cases, as each individual claimant has a separate breach of contract claim.

Where a claimant lacks jurisdiction against a defendant, the claimant is usually advised to include an additional related UAE-domiciled defendant in the litigation as this will guarantee the jurisdiction of the UAE courts to adjudicate.

Third-party funding

What restrictions are there on third parties funding the costs of the litigation or agreeing to pay adverse costs?

Third-party litigation funding is still in its infancy in the UAE.

Contingency fee arrangements

Can lawyers act on a contingency fee basis? What options are available? What issues should be considered before entering into an arrangement of this nature?

Generally, complex commercial litigation is billed on a time spent basis, at times with capped fee stages. Contingency fees are a relatively new phenomenon in the UAE. Contingency fees historically have been unattractive fee structures for law firms due to the unpredictable nature of UAE court decisions as well as the lack of summary judgments and automatic right to appeal. However, contingency fees are becoming more common.

The claim

Launching claims

How are claims launched? How are the written pleadings structured, and how long do they tend to be? What documents need to be appended to the pleading?

To appear on behalf of clients before UAE courts, lawyers are required to possess a validly executed power of attorney (POA). Note that the UAE is not a signatory to the Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents (Apostille Convention). Therefore, POAs executed abroad must be:

  • signed before a notary, or equivalent;
  • legalised in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs where signed;
  • attested by the UAE embassy;
  • translated into Arabic;
  • authenticated by the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and
  • finally, approved by the Ministry of Justice.

Note that the above process usually takes approximately 10 to 14 working days to complete, and that it is not possible to commence any legal action in the UAE courts without a valid POA.

Legal proceedings are considered to have commenced against a defendant when the claimant files a statement of claim with the CFI and pays the appropriate court fees. The CFI’s office of case management will schedule the first hearing and instruct the court bailiff to serve the summons on the defendant. The CPL was amended in 2005 and 2014 and now permits service of summons through other means, including email or ‘similar modern technology means specified by virtue of a decision issued by the Minister of Justice’. Service of summons on defendants located outside the UAE, in the absence of a bilateral or multilateral treaty, must be through diplomatic channels.

Court fees vary between the emirates depending on whether the emirate is under the federal court system or its own local system. For example, in Dubai, court fees to file a statement of claim are based on a percentage of the claim amount up to a maximum of 40,000 dirham. Court fees are recoverable by the successful party.

All evidentiary documents must be translated into Arabic prior to submission in court pleadings. All such translations must be carried out by a Ministry of Justice approved translator.

Serving claims on foreign parties

How are claims served on foreign parties?

The UAE is a party to several multilateral and bilateral judicial assistance treaties (eg, between the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC) states and with the UK). Absent such a treaty, service is required through diplomatic channels.

Key causes of action

What are the key causes of action that typically arise in commercial litigation?

The three most common causes of action are non-payment, shareholder and joint venture-related disputes.

Claim amendments

Under what circumstances can amendments to claims be made?

Civil proceedings are mostly based on written submissions where parties to a particular case submit memoranda and replies. Parties are permitted to submit amendments through a memorandum and detail the reasons for such amendments.

Remedies

What remedies are available to a claimant in your jurisdiction?

The most common remedy is monetary damages. Damages are predominantly based on actual losses, but under strong evidence, loss of profits may also be awarded. Punitive damages are not available for breaches of contract; however, they may be awarded in extreme circumstances in tort.

Post-judgment interest of up to 12 per cent may be awarded. Generally, 9 per cent is awarded.

An aggrieved party may seek specific performance of a contract or a declaration (eg, return of goods). Such measures are rare, however, mostly because of the lack of summary judgments as well as an automatic right to appeal.

Recoverable damages

What damages are recoverable? Are there any particular rules on damages that might make this jurisdiction more favourable than others?

As stated in question 21, damages are predominantly based on actual losses, but under strong evidence, loss of profits may also be awarded. Punitive damages are not available for breaches of contract; however, they may be awarded in extreme circumstances in torts.

Responding to the claim

Early steps available

What steps are open to a defendant in the early part of a case?

The Office of Case Management controls a case’s timetable and overall case management prior to the case being assigned to a trial judge. Afterwards, the trial judge controls the procedure and timetable.

Once served with the summons, a defendant is to submit his or her statement of defence. The defendant is also permitted to file any counterclaims at this time. Moreover, a defendant can file a joinder application to join any other parties liable. Challenges to the court’s jurisdiction or relying on an arbitration clause must be raised at the first hearing.

Adjournments are then given according to the timetable for civil claims, which depends on the complexity of the case, the number of pleadings between the parties and whether an expert is appointed. Generally, proceedings at first instance take six to 18 months depending on the factors discussed above.

As stated previously, civil proceedings are based on the written submissions of the parties. Typically, when one party submits a memorandum, the other party (or parties) will request an adjournment of the hearing to review and reply. Adjournments are generally in the range of two to four weeks.

Defence structure

How are defences structured, and must they be served within any time limits? What documents need to be appended to the defence?

The structure of the statement of defence is essentially the same as that of the statement of claim, and the same type of documents are to be attached (see question 17). The defendant must state which specific allegations of fact of the claimant it disputes or acknowledges.

The court will set the defendant a time limit for response, and upon reasoned request such time limit can be extended.

Changing defence

Under what circumstances may a defendant change a defence at a later stage in the proceedings?

A defendant is permitted to amend his or her defence by submitting an amended statement of defence.

Sharing liability

How can a defendant establish the passing on or sharing of liability?

See question 23.

Avoiding trial

How can a defendant avoid trial?

A defendant is able to avoid trial by way of settlement or where parties agree to withdraw the matter from the courts and submit to mediation or arbitration.

Courts do not consider preliminary matters first. For example, jurisdictional challenges are resolved as part of the final judgment.

Case of no defence

What happens in the case of a no-show or if no defence is offered?

The case will proceed based on the claimant’s submissions.

Claiming security

Can a defendant claim security for costs? If so, what form of security can be provided?

Security for costs is not a function of UAE procedural law.

Progressing the case

Typical procedural steps

What is the typical sequence of procedural steps in commercial litigation in this country?

See question 23.

Bringing in additional parties

Can additional parties be brought into a case after commencement?

CPL article 94 provides that ‘the defendant may, if he claims that he has a right of recourse for the right claimed against him, against a person who is not a party to the proceedings, lodge a written application to the court setting out the nature of the claim and the grounds thereof, and apply that that person be joined as a party to the action’.

Consolidating proceedings

Can proceedings be consolidated or split?

Yes, proceedings are consolidated where multiple related claims and counterclaims have been commenced. Consolidation may occur by request of the parties or at the discretion of the court.

Court decision making

How does a court decide if the claims or allegations are proven? What are the elements required to find in favour, and what is the burden of proof?

The burden of proof is on the claimant to establish the legal and factual elements demonstrating that the defendant was indeed negligent, and any such allegations must be supported by evidence (see Dubai CC, 36/2010, 13 April 2010, paragraphs 2 and 3). The CFI (as the trial court) has ‘complete discretion over the understanding of the facts of the case and the assessment of the evidence and documents submitted to it, and in preferring that by which it is satisfied and discarding the rest, and it has absolute discretion over the assessment of the work of experts, as that is just one of the elements of proof in the case’ (ibid, at paragraph 1).

How does a court decide what judgments, remedies and orders it will issue?

The court will examine the facts and submissions from the parties and issue a judgment based on those filings and the applicable law. The court will award the damages that have been sought by the claimant. The court will usually not award damages or other remedies unless requested by the claimant.

Evidence

How is witness, documentary and expert evidence dealt with?

All submissions and evidence are provided in written form. UAE Federal Law No. 10 of 1992, as amended, concerning Evidence Law in Civil and Commercial Transactions (Evidence Law) articles 35 to 47 legislate with regard to witness testimony.

How does the court deal with large volumes of commercial or technical evidence?

In the vast majority of commercial litigation, the court will appoint a bipartisan expert to examine the underlying facts of the dispute. Evidence Law articles 69 to 92 legislate for the appointment of court experts. The court, at its discretion, may decide to appoint one or more experts from experts registered on the courts’ schedule. Alternatively, the parties may request the court to appoint one or more experts; the court will honour this request and make any appointments from the experts registered on the court’s schedule. In either of the above circumstances, the court must specify the expert’s duties and the measures permitted, the deadline for submitting the final expert’s report and the expert’s fees.

The court has the discretion to rely on the expert’s report in its judgment, require the expert to revisit his or her mandate or appoint a new expert.

In practice, the court almost always appoints an expert where the factual matrix of a case is disputed by the parties. This process is somewhat similar to discovery or disclosure in common law litigation. Experts are tasked with determining the factual matters of the case by meeting with the parties (usually the expert meets with each party separately) and demanding a variety of documentary evidence. Once satisfied, the expert will produce a final report. The court seeks to appoint experts with experience and background related to the case they are tasked with.

The court relies heavily on the expert’s final report. Therefore, it is important to ensure the expert receives all the information requested and is well informed of the facts of the case. Practically, plaintiffs must argue their case twice; legally before the judge, and factually before the expert.

Can a witness in your jurisdiction be compelled to give evidence in or to a foreign court? And can a court in your jurisdiction compel a foreign witness to give evidence?

Outside the framework of a bilateral or multilateral treaty, such a request would have to be applied by way of letters rogatory.

How is witness and documentary evidence tested up to and during trial? Is cross-examination permitted?

All evidence can be questioned and disputed through memoranda submissions by parties. In addition, evidence is thoroughly tested through the court-appointed expert in meetings and submissions. As stated in question 35, Evidence Law articles 35 to 47 legislate with regard to witness testimony.

Time frame

How long do the proceedings typically last, and in what circumstances can they be expedited?

The length of proceedings greatly depends on the emirate as well as the court’s docket and the complexity of the case. Generally speaking, commercial litigations take from six to 18 months at the CFI stage.

Gaining an advantage

What other steps can a party take during proceedings to achieve tactical advantage in a case?

A typical defence tactic in the statement of defence is to deny most or even all documentary evidence provided by the claimant (contract, purchase orders, invoices, delivery receipts, etc). This defence strategy will then shift the evidential burden back to the claimant, requiring him or her to provide originals of all claim documents. This defence tactic is further complicated where the court will only provide adjournments of two to four weeks and may deny additional adjournments. This often delays proceedings while the claimant attempts to locate all originals; at worst, the claimant may be unable to locate primary original documents.

Practitioners, on behalf of claimants, are advised to ensure they have all originals of claim documents in anticipation of the above defence tactic. This will ensure that the claimant will be able to proceed and require a substantive defence from the defendant.

Impact of third-party funding

If third parties are able to fund the costs of the litigation and pay adverse costs, what impact can this have on the case?

As stated in question 15, third-party litigation funding is still in its infancy in the UAE.

Impact of technology

What impact is technology having on complex commercial litigation in your jurisdiction?

The Abu Dhabi and Dubai courts have made several technological improvements in the way litigation is handled. For example, filings of submissions are uploaded electronically.

Parallel proceedings

How are parallel proceedings dealt with? What steps can a party take to gain a tactical advantage in these circumstances, and may a party bring private prosecutions?

Criminal matters take precedence over civil or regulatory matters. Any related civil proceedings will be stayed pending final resolution of the criminal matter. Moreover, criminal decisions (eg, a ruling by the Criminal Court) will guide the civil courts.

An interesting facet of UAE procedural law is the potential to have two parallel civil proceedings in different emirate courts. For example, it is possible to have the same dispute adjudicated at the same time before the Dubai courts and Abu Dhabi courts. Typically, both actions will proceed simultaneously to judgment and, where the final judgment is different between the courts, the FSC will hear the final appeal.

Trial

Trial conduct

How is the trial conducted for common types of commercial litigation? How long does the trial typically last?

There are no trials in the common law sense; all proceedings are based on written submissions from the parties. The claimant will submit his or her statement of claim, which is responded to by the defendant’s statement of defence. From there, the parties exchange submissions until the court is satisfied. The court may appoint an expert to determine the facts of the dispute (as discussed in question 36). Submissions and meetings take place with the court-appointed expert.

Use of juries

Are jury trials the norm, and can they be denied?

Juries are not a function of UAE law.

Confidentiality

How is confidentiality treated? Can all evidence be publicly accessed? How can sensitive commercial information be protected? Is public access granted to the courts?

Court hearings are open to the public; however, all submissions and evidence are confidential and only accessible by the parties and their legal representatives.

Media interest

How is media interest dealt with? Is the media ever ordered not to report on certain information?

The media is permitted to report on commercial disputes. Prohibitions on media are only exercised in cases of national security.

Proving claims

How are monetary claims valued and proved?

As discussed in question 36, the court generally relies on the court-appointed expert’s opinion in terms of both the factual analysis and the monetary value of the claim and counterclaim.

Post-trial

Costs

How does the court deal with costs? What is the typical structure and length of judgments in complex commercial cases, and are they publicly accessible?

Court and expert fees are awarded to the successful party; only nominal lawyers’ fees are awarded.

Judgments will typically set out the factual background as well as the parties’ submissions, including the court-appointed expert’s opinion followed by the legal decision.

See questions 34 and 35.

Appeals

When can judgments be appealed? How many stages of appeal are there and how long do appeals tend to last?

Leave to appeal is not required. There is an automatic right to appeal to the court of appeal and the CC where the amount in dispute is over a certain threshold. Most cases are eventually adjudicated by all three tiers of the courts because the aforesaid limits are relatively low and only nominal lawyers’ fees are recoverable.

Enforceability

How enforceable internationally are judgments from the courts in your jurisdiction?

Generally, UAE judgments are enforceable internationally based on bilateral or multilateral treaties (eg, the GCC Convention for the Execution of Judgments, Delegations and Judicial Notifications).

How do the courts in your jurisdiction support the process of enforcing foreign judgments?

See question 51.

Other considerations

Interesting features

Are there any particularly interesting features or tactical advantages of litigating in this country not addressed in any of the previous questions?

It is important to note the significance of reliable legal translation when disputes arise. The majority of commercial contracts, communications and other information between the parties will be in English. However, UAE courts conduct proceedings in Arabic and only consider Arabic translations of documents. Ensuring the accuracy of translation is essential to the success of a party’s case, especially in detailed and nuanced cases.

Jurisdictional disadvantages

Are there any particular disadvantages of litigating in your jurisdiction, whether procedural or pragmatic?

The main disadvantages to litigating in the UAE are threefold: the lack of summary judgments, an automatic right to appeal based on the amount in dispute (the amount being fairly low) and the lack of recoverability of lawyers’ fees.

These three disadvantages make resolutions to disputes both time-consuming and costly.

Special considerations

Are there special considerations to be taken into account when defending a claim in your jurisdiction, that have not been addressed in the previous questions?

No.

Updates and trends

Key developments of the past year

What were the key cases, decisions, judgements and policy and legislative developments of the past year?

Key developments of the past year56 What were the key cases, decisions, judgments and policy and legislative developments of the past year?

Not applicable.