On 7 May 2007, the new arbitration rules of the Dubai International Arbitration Centre ("DIAC") came into force. The old rules were substantially re-drafted following extensive research by the DIAC's Board of Trustees, which examined best arbitration practice in institutions around the world with the aim of creating a modern and developed set of international arbitration rules. Some of the key features of the new DIAC arbitration rules include:
- Either party can apply to DIAC for the expedited formation of the arbitral tribunal if "exceptional urgency" can be shown. The Executive Committee of DIAC has complete discretion to decide whether the circumstances give rise to "exceptional urgency".
- The parties may agree upon the seat (that is the legal place) of the arbitration, failing which the seat of the arbitration will be Dubai unless the Executive Committee of DIAC directs otherwise.
- Unless otherwise agreed, the language of the arbitration will be the same as that of the arbitration clause, changing the previous position of Arabic being the default choice. Separate provisions exist for arbitration clauses drafted in more than one language.
- There is a presumption in favour of amending or supplementing a claim, counterclaim or defence during the course of the arbitration "unless the tribunal considers it inappropriate to allow such amendment having regard to its nature, the delay in making it, the prejudice that may be caused to the other party and any other relevant circumstances".
- The tribunal has power to appoint experts, having first consulted with the parties, and to make provisional orders or take other interim measures it deems necessary, including the grant of injunctive relief.
- The tribunal must render its final award within 6 months from the date on which the sole arbitrator (or chairman of the tribunal) receives the file, although the tribunal may extend this time limit by a further six months and the Executive Committee of DIAC may extend it further.
- The tribunal's award is final and binding and, to the extent that they can do so under the law of the seat, the parties irrevocably waive any right to appeal or review the award.
Any materials or documents produced to the tribunal, any orders and any awards in the arbitration must be kept confidential by the parties unless they otherwise agree in writing, or unless a specific exception applies (for example, if disclosure is required to enforce or challenge an award in legal proceedings before a court or other judicial authority).
The new DIAC rules are a useful updating that may enhance DIAC's attractiveness as an arbitration centre. It should be noted, however, that Dubai has not yet introduced a legislative framework for arbitration. Parties may try to bring themselves within the Dubai International Financial Centre ("DIFC") to use both the new DIAC rules and the new (2004) DIFC Arbitration Law.