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.