15 August 2017
Dubai's DIFC Courts witnessed sustained growth in the first six months of 2017, with the workload of the main Court of First Instance (CFI), including arbitration-related cases and counter claims, increasing by 57 per cent from the first half of 2016.
The total value of cases in the first half of the year increased to Dh7.5 billion, a 118 per cent increase over the same period last year, although this figure was impacted by a particularly large arbitration case. The underlying trend for case values showed stable year-on-year growth.
The ongoing growth of CFI case volumes and values underscores the DIFC Courts' maturity and position in the regional and international judicial landscape. This was further supported by a report from law firm Clyde & Co earlier this year that found between 2015-2017, where litigation was the preferred option for its regional clients, the DIFC Courts were chosen in 76 per cent of contracts dealing with mergers and acquisitions, making it the preferred Court system for handling such transactions.
The period was notable for the first enforcement of a United States court judgment, affirming the international connectivity of the DIFC Courts. They also further extended their international enforcement framework with the signing of a cooperation agreement with the Federal Court of Malaysia.
The performance of the region's first Small Claims Tribunal (SCT) was particularly noteworthy in the first six months of 2017, as its case load increased by 90 per cent to 150, driven by greater awareness, the innovative use of technology, and new partnerships opening access to companies in free zones such as Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC). The total value of claims increased from Dh9 million to Dh13.9 million.
Mark Beer, OBE, co-chief executive and registrar general of the DIFC Courts, said: "The first half of 2017 saw the DIFC Courts serve big business, small firms and individuals seeking justice with equal consideration. Healthy growth in the main court cements our preferred status for resolving the biggest corporate disputes, while rapid growth in the Small Claims Tribunal underscores our ability to support SMEs and individuals. Our performance so far this year speaks to the maturity of the DIFC Courts, our position as a valued public service, and our status as global leader in the field of commercial justice."
Driven partly by its extension to the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, the DIFC Wills & Probate Registry saw 780 new wills registered in the first six months of the year. In total, 2,750 wills have been registered since the service's May 2015 launch. In October 2017, DIFC Courts will introduce a specialist Technology and Construction Division (TCD). A claim may be brought as a TCD case if it involves issues or questions which are technically complex, with a specialised Judge appointed to oversee disputes handled by the division.
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