Arbitration agreements

Validity

What are the validity requirements for an arbitration agreement?

The following validity requirements apply to arbitration agreements:

  • The arbitration agreement must be in writing. The agreement can be included in the form of written or electronic correspondence. An arbitration agreement can be incorporated by reference to another document containing an arbitration clause, provided that the reference is clear that the arbitration clause is being incorporated.
  • The person agreeing to arbitration on behalf of a body corporate must have specific authority to agree to arbitration. Ordinarily, this authority must be evidenced by a shareholders’ resolution or by the articles of association of a company. 

Enforcement of agreements

How are arbitration agreements enforced in your jurisdiction? What is the attitude of the national courts towards arbitration agreements?

The national courts will generally uphold a valid arbitration agreement and decline jurisdiction, provided that the defendant asserts that the courts have no jurisdiction because of the arbitration clause. The defendant must assert this in the form of a jurisdictional objection before a defence is submitted on the merits of the dispute.

Consolidation

Can an arbitral tribunal with its seat in your jurisdiction consolidate separate arbitral proceedings under one or more contracts, and, if so, in what circumstances?

The Federal Arbitration Law 6/2018 (the Arbitration Law) does not provide for the consolidation of separate arbitral proceedings. However, this should be possible provided that the institutional rules provide for such a mechanism and the parties agree to such consolidation. For example, the Dubai International Finance Centre-London Court of International Arbitration (DIFC-LCIA) Rules and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Arbitration Rules specifically provide for the consolidation of separate arbitral proceedings.  

Choice of law

How is the substantive law of the dispute determined? Where the substantive law is unclear, how will a tribunal determine what it should be?

If the parties have not agreed on the substantive law governing the dispute, the tribunal is required to apply the law that it deems to be most closely connected to the dispute. In determining this issue, the tribunal should take into consideration:

  • the terms of the contract
  • the subject matter of the dispute
  • the usages of the trade applicable to the transaction; and
  • past practices between the parties. 

Separability

Are there any provisions on the separability of arbitration agreements?

Yes, the Arbitration Law provides that an arbitration agreement must be treated as an agreement independent from the other terms of a contract. The Arbitration Law also provides that the termination or nullification of a contract in which an arbitration agreement is incorporated does not affect the validity of the arbitration agreement.

Multiparty agreements

Are multiparty agreements recognised?

The Arbitration Law does not specifically recognise or disallow multi-party arbitration agreements. In practice, multiparty arbitration agreements are recognised. Institutional rules (eg, the Dubai International Arbitration Rules, the DIFC-LCIA Rules and the ICC Arbitration Rules) specifically recognise multi-party arbitration rules.