|25 September, 2019

DIFC Courts forge alliance with Dubai SME

SMEs increasingly keen to include practical dispute protection in their commercial agreements

(L-R) Zaki Azmi, Chief Justice, DIFC Courts; Abdul Basset Al Janahi, CEO, Dubai SME.

(L-R) Zaki Azmi, Chief Justice, DIFC Courts; Abdul Basset Al Janahi, CEO, Dubai SME.

  • Dynamic delivery of the region’s first Small Claims Tribunal (SCT) in the first six months of 2019 was particularly striking
  • Agreement to also open awareness of the DIFC Courts Wills Service Centre (WSC) and its business-relevant wills 

Dubai, United Arab Emirates: The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Courts has signed a cooperation agreement with Dubai SME, the agency of Dubai Economy mandated to develop the small and medium enterprise sector. The terms of the memorandum state that the two entities will collaborate to provide Dubai SME member companies with information and access to the DIFC Courts services, including the Small Claims Tribunal (SCT).

An increasing number of small businesses and individuals based outside of the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) are choosing to have their commercial disputes resolved by the DIFC Courts’ Small Claims Tribunal (SCT), according to new statistics released by the DIFC Courts in August 2019.

The first six months of 2019 was particularly noteworthy for the SCT, with its case load increasing by 34% to 321 claims. Reinforcing the ‘Smart’ SCT’s increasing appeal to individuals and SMEs, the total value of claims increased by 23% in the first half of 2019, rising from AED 30.6 million to AED 37.5 million.

Zaki Azmi, Chief Justice, DIFC Courts, said: “This cooperation agreement demonstrates unity of mission by two Dubai entities, working in tandem to support the growing small and medium enterprise sector. By utilising extensive mediation expertise here at the DIFC Courts, the SCT services are becoming an increasingly popular option for individuals and businesses in Dubai, UAE and beyond. We are very excited about the prospect of collaborating with Dubai SME to educate the community about our user-friendly form of dispute resolution, as well as affording a more robust and innovative consultation service to efficiently resolve matters.”

Abdul Baset Al Janahi, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Dubai SME, said: “Providing alternative dispute resolution options to otherwise costly and time-consuming litigation is a pre-requisite for SME competitiveness and growth. The partnership between Dubai SME and DIFC courts will link the SME community in the UAE to internationally competent expertise and knowledge on mediation and litigation, enabling them to settle their business disputes amicably. It’s a milestone for Dubai SME in our efforts to make Dubai a global hub for entrepreneurial growth and we look forward to our SMEs acquiring new capabilities and potential through the knowledge-building programmes and services offered by the DIFC Courts.” 

The UAE government’s strategy to diversify the economy will largely rest on the creation of a strong and vibrant SME sector. The government’s Vision 2021 projects SME participation in the UAE’s non-oil economy to reach 70%. According to a 2019 *report, 400,000 SMEs already contribute over 60% of the non-oil economy and provide 86% of the private workforce. They make up 73% of the UAE’s wholesale and retail trade sector, 16% of the services sector, and 11% of the industrial sector. 

Nassir Al Nasser, SCT Judge & Registrar, said: “SMEs can benefit from the proven capacity to resolve disputes amicably at the DIFC Courts. Through the award-winning smart SCT, firms with claims can also access a virtual courtroom online from anywhere in the world. With the option of serving notice via instant messaging and social media, SMEs can also now solve legal problems using their smartphones or laptops with minimal interruption even as they travel.” 

The agreement will also aim to highlight the business protection for SMEs through the DIFC Courts’ Wills Service Centre, a joint initiative of the Government of Dubai and the DIFC Courts that gives non-Muslims investing and living in the UAE the option to pass on their assets and, in accordance with the instructions in their Will. A range of wills offered to the public include the Business Owner and Financial Assets Will, both of which can prove invaluable to the SME community.

*Report by NBF & Refinitiv:  https://nbf.ae/media/114007/sme-in-depth.pdf   

About the DIFC Courts

The UAE’s DIFC Courts administer a unique English-language common law system – offering swift, independent justice to settle local and international commercial or civil disputes. The Courts, based in Dubai, provide certainty through transparent, enforceable judgments from internationally-recognised judges, who adhere to the highest global legal standards. The DIFC Courts are independent from, but complementary to, the UAE’s Arabic-language civil law system – offering a choice that strengthens both processes while ensuring public access to world-class justice.

The DIFC Courts were established under laws enacted by the late HH Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai in September 2004.  The laws establishing the DIFC Courts are designed to ensure that the DIFC Courts provide the certainty, flexibility and efficiency expected by Court users. The Courts’ community-focused approach encourages early settlement, while their successful track record supports Dubai’s growing status as an international business hub.

In October 2011, a decree of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, opened the DIFC Courts’ jurisdiction to businesses from all across the GCC region and beyond to provide the international business community with access to one of the most advanced commercial courts in the world.

In line with HH Sheikh Mohammed’s vision, the DIFC Courts serve to develop the UAE national workforce and enhance the competitiveness of Emirati advocates. The DIFC Courts are spearheading training programmes predominantly aimed at local Emirati lawyers, which offer knowledge of, and qualifications in, the English-language common law system. 

About Dubai SME

Dubai SME, an agency of Dubai Economy (Department of Economic Development – Government of Dubai), aims to foster an entrepreneurial culture and develop a competitive SME sector for the Emirate of Dubai. The key strategies adopted by Dubai SME are advocate a pro-business environment for developing entrepreneurship and SMEs; seed innovative start-ups; and groom promising SMEs. Dubai SME’s vision is to make Dubai the centre for innovative SMEs to start, grow and expand their businesses, thus adding greater value to the economy of Dubai. 

© Press Release 2019

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