On 17 October 2018, the Abu Dhabi Global Market Arbitration Centre (ADGMAC) officially opened its doors to any parties looking to resolve their disputes through arbitration or mediation. The ADGMAC, based in Al Maqam Tower, Al Mayrah Island, offers parties a venue to hold their hearings in Abu Dhabi which is equipped with state-of-the-art technology and facilities.

Background

The Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) is a financial freezone in the United Arab Emirates, which was established in 2013. Similar to the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), the ADGM operates its own self-contained common law legal system and has three independent authorities, the Registration Authority, the Financial Services Regulatory Authority and ADGM Courts. In contrast to the DIFC, which has created its own separate body of substantive laws, with English law only applied in the event of conflict or gaps in DIFC law, the ADGM directly incorporates English common law and a list of English statutes into its legal system by reference.

New arbitration regulations

In December 2015, the ADGM enacted new arbitration regulations based on the UNCITRAL Model Law to create a new “pro-arbitration” seat in the Middle East. The ADGM Arbitration Regulations 2015 allow contracting parties to choose the ADGM as the seat of arbitration – no link is required to the ADGM – and select an institution of choice to administer the arbitration, such as the ICC or the LCIA.

Institutions

Unlike the DIFC which hosts the DIFC-LCIA Arbitration Centre, the ADGM does not currently have its own arbitration institution. However, as we reported last year, the ICC has set up a representative office in the ADGM, through which parties may register arbitration cases under the ICC Rules, which are then administered by one of the ICC Court Secretariat’s existing case management teams. Assistance can also be given on general enquiries concerning the ICC‘s services.

The opening of its arbitration centre, and the ICC’s representative office, further establishes the ADGM as an alternative pro-arbitration venue for resolving disputes in the Middle East.