The original version of this article was published by Practical Law (October 2018)

On 17 October 2018, the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), Abu Dhabi’s common law-based financial free zone, opened its Arbitration Centre (the Centre). The Centre boasts world-class facilities. It is a hearing centre rather than an arbitral institution, which is open for all - irrespective of the arbitral institution administering the dispute. However, the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce (the ICC) has set up a Middle East representative office in the ADGM. Any ICC arbitrations conducted in the ADGM will be administered by the ICC Secretariat's existing case management teams based in Paris.

As a financial free zone, the ADGM (like the Dubai International Financial Centre in Dubai) is its own jurisdiction (which incorporates large sections of English law). As a result, contracting parties are able to choose the ADGM as the seat of their arbitration.

The ADGM has enacted the ADGM Arbitration Regulations 2015, which are closely modelled on the UNCITRAL Model Law (with some contemporary modifications) and will apply to arbitrations seated in the ADGM. The ADGM also has its own common law Courts (with world class courtroom and world class body of judges). In addition to dealing with claims within their own substantive jurisdiction, the ADGM courts will also act as the supervisory courts over any arbitrations seated in the ADGM and they are expected to be arbitration-friendly in their approach. It is anticipated that international parties will now prefer to seat their arbitrations in the ADGM rather than onshore Abu Dhabi, and will opt to use internationally recognised arbitral rules such as those of the LCIA or ICC.

The ADGM Courts opened in May 2016 and it is hoped that they, alongside the Centre, will make the ADGM a leading centre for the resolution of local and international disputes.