The recently issued implementing regulations of the civil procedures law (Implementing Regulations) have brought a number of amendments intended to facilitate and expedite the process of ratification and enforcement of foreign arbitral awards.
The Implementing Regulations were published in the UAE gazettes on 16 December 2018 and came into force on 17 February 2019.
Under the previous provisions of the Civil Procedures Law No 11 of 1992 (Civil Procedures Law), the process for the ratification and enforcement of a foreign arbitral award was a lengthy process which largely resembled the process for filing a new case before UAE courts. The ratification request had to be filed before the first degree court (a procedure which typically took between six months to two years). Once an award was ratified by the court, it was then to be executed through the ordinary execution procedures, which usually take around six to nine months.
What has changed ?
Direct ratification by way of a petition
Under the new Implementing Regulations, the ratification request is submitted by way of a petition to the enforcement judge, instead of the previous process of filling a ratification case before the competent Court of First Instance. Moreover, the enforcement judge is now required to issue its order on the petition within 3 days from its submission date.
While an enforcement order may still be challenged in the same manner in which a judgement rendered by the Court of First Instance would be appealed, the former is immediately enforceable, i.e. any appeal will not stop the enforcement process unless the court deems that the immediate enforcement will result in [irreparable] material harm.
The above amendments are certainly a positive development, however, the extent in which such amendments will impact the timeframe for enforcement of foreign arbitral awards is yet to be seen through court practice.