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DIFC COURTS WORK PLAN 2017


DIFC COURTS

WORK PLAN 2017


TABLE OF CONTENTS Message from the Chief Justice Judicial Excellence Connectivity Service Excellence Innovation Judiciary and Registry

07 08 10 12 13 15

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Michael Hwang SC is a graduate of Oxford University and a former law teacher in the University of Sydney and University of Singapore. In 1997, he was appointed as one of the first 12 Senior Counsel (SC) of the Supreme Court of Singapore (a status equivalent to that of Queen’s Counsel in England). In 1999, he was elected a Member of the American Law Institute and also served as a Visiting Professor to the National University of Singapore teaching advocacy and commercial arbitration. Between 2000 and 2003, he served as a Commissioner of the United Nations Compensation Commission (UNCC) based in Geneva, a body set up under the Security Council to assess claims against Iraq arising from the first Gulf War.

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Chief Justice

Michael Hwang SC Singapore


MESSAGE FROM THE CHIEF JUSTICE Welcome to the DIFC Courts’ 2017 Work Plan. This document sets out our ambitious plans for the year ahead and details the ways in which we will be working hard towards our commitment to become one of the world’s leading commercial courts by 2021.

are committed to excellence in all aspects of our work. All that we have achieved to date and all that we set out to do for the year ahead would not be possible without their continued support and dedication.

We will be focussing upon 4 key principles: 1. Judicial Excellence 2. Connectivity 3. Ensuring alignment with international best practices 4. Service Excellence; and Innovation

We have an ambitious year ahead as we look to being the most service-oriented, connected and innovative judiciary in the world, and we look forward to playing a central role in helping local and global businesses to reach their full potential.

Each of these principles will be explored in greater detail in this Work Plan. Throughout the year, we plan for our bench to be stronger than it has ever been, comprising an optimal mix of local and global judicial talent to serve the needs of business. We will sign new agreements with courts in the UAE’s key trading partners, making the DIFC Courts more connected than ever before. We will stay at the forefront of court innovation and technology by launching new initiatives to deliver justice ever more swiftly and efficiently. And the DIFC Courts will take our place at the top table of the organisations that set the agenda for court excellence on a worldwide basis. I would like to thank my fellow judges and the team of Registry professionals that

Michael Hwang Chief Justice

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JUDICIAL EXCELLENCE 1. In 2017, the DIFC Courts will continue to look around the world to ensure that we can attract the brightest judicial talents to our bench. Pursuant to the approval of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, the DIFC Courts will be granting a one year extension of the tenure of Justice Roger Giles, whose retirement is due in a couple of months’ time. We are delighted to have recently welcomed Justice Judith Prakash to join our bench of distinguished judges, to serve on a part-time basis to hear Court of Appeal cases, while continuing her role as a Judge of Appeal of the Supreme Court of Singapore. With this new appointment and the renewal of older appointments, the DIFC Courts’ bench will be at our greatest strength since the founding of the courts. 2. Throughout 2017, the DIFC Courts will be committed to the development of the talented men and women in the judiciary and registry, with particular emphasis on professional development and training of UAE nationals. The DIFC Courts will be exploring the option of introducing a Courts Director into the Registry team, who will be responsible for

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ensuring that the DIFC Courts maintain the high quality of its decisions and having greater line of sight of the enforcement of its cases. 3. The DIFC Courts will continue to deliver ever swifter and more efficient case management, setting new benchmarks for performance by implementing stricter internal KPIs for judges to turn around judgments, with matters such as simple interlocutory matters to be decided within one week. 4. In 2017, the Small Claims Tribunal (SCT) will continue to enhance its efficiency and speed. The SCT will aim to have 80 percent of judgments issued within five days after the later of the conclusion of the hearing or upon receipt of the closing submissions; and 80 per cent of SCT cases will be settled within four weeks after successful service. 5. The DIFC Courts will be monitoring developments in market practices with regard to Third Party Litigation, both in the DIFC and elsewhere, and will regulate such practices as and when necessary. 6. The DIFC Courts will be issuing a Practice Direction

addressing revised fees in an attempt to strike a balance between the economic realities of running an international commercial court and delivering an exceptional and accessible service to court users and our users. The fees will be adjusted, not only in the context of the ratification of arbitration awards, but also for cases which end with immediate judgment. 7. In 2017, the DIFC Courts will be issuing a substantially revised Part 44 of the Rules of the DIFC Courts to enable appeals to move in a more efficient fashion for all parties concerned. 8. The DIFC Courts will be introducing a new subset of rules within the Rules of the DIFC Courts, to support the construction industry, with the aim of providing best practices in case management for constructionrelated disputes and ensuring swift and cost effective dispute resolution for that sector. 9. In 2017, the Registry team will produce a report on costs that will enable lawyers to better advise their clients on estimated cost awards. The report will be shared with the legal community upon publication.


CONNECTIVITY 1. Connectivity is the second area in which the DIFC Courts aim to lead the world’s commercial courts in connecting with other judiciaries both at home and abroad, and by developing one of the world’s strongest enforcement regimes. 2. For 2017, the DIFC Courts will be focusing on enhancing our connectivity with other civil law jurisdictions following a case-by-case analysis of what their law provides compared to DIFC law. The DIFC Courts’ main aim is to target those countries in the top ten trading partners of Dubai which are civil law jurisdictions, and with which the DIFC Courts have not yet signed a Memorandum of Guidance. 3. The DIFC Courts have been invited by the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales to join the newly formed committee called the “Standing International Forum of Commercial Courts”. There will be an inaugural meeting of all of the courts in London hosted by the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales in May 2017. This meeting will bring together jurisdictions from 19 countries deemed to be the top and most important commercial courts in the world, and the DIFC Courts will be attending. 4. Ease of enforcement remains a vital consideration

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for those choosing to use the DIFC Courts and, throughout 2017, the DIFC Courts will be circulating an updated enforcement guide, including data on the countries in which DIFC Courts judgments have been enforced, the timescale for that enforcement and any practical lessons learnt from the enforcement process. It will also detail the countries with which the DIFC Courts have enforced judgments.

7. The DIFC Courts will be working closely with the Academy of Law to build upon our collaborative partnerships, and will be helping to support and implement a number of educational outreach programmes, including:

5. The DIFC Courts will continue to act as an exemplar by consulting on a wide range of issues that need to be considered and steps that need to be taken to establish an internationally respected commercial court and international arbitration centre at the planned Astana International Financial Centre. The DIFC Courts will continue to establish similar relationships with other jurisdictions across the globe where appropriate.

B. Collaboration with a UK trading partner to deliver the Graduate Diploma in Law in Dubai; and

6. For 2017, the DIFC Courts will continue to engage with our Courts Users’ Committee, Rules Subcommittee and General Counsel Forum, whose continued support and feedback ensures that the DIFC Courts remain up to date with international best practices and that the services offered remain supportive of the needs of our end users.

A. Collaboration with BARBRI to provide home study options to study for a U.S. bar exam from the GCC;

C. The introduction of an interactive e learning platform offered by the Academy for all courses and lectures, allowing for online learning and development. 8. Throughout the year, working closely with the Academy of Law, publication will continue of the DIFC Courts’ Rules, Court Reports, and our key achievements will be highlighted as they arise during the year using traditional media, as well as social media. The DIFC Courts will continue to distribute our quarterly newsletter (which will provide updates for the Dispute Resolution Authority, and all its entities) to the key decision makers in the UAE. We will issue an annual report for 2016 and develop our website to maintain our continuing dedication to serve our users better.


9. The yearly Gala Dinner will take place on Thursday, 2 November, 2017, providing an important platform for the UAE legal community to come together. 10. The DIFC Courts will be working closely with the DIFC Wills and Probate Registry, to focus on continued dedication to serve our users better, and the Registry will be exploring an offsite DIFC Will registration service at Tasheel Service Centres outside the DIFC, and will also be introducing the service into our neighbouring Emirate, Ras Al Khaimah.

11. The DIFC Courts will be working closely with the DIFC Wills and Probate Registry, Dubai Courts and the courts in Ras Al Khaimah to ensure the smooth handling of applications and cases that flow from the service and the enforcement of Probate orders.

Supreme Court of the Republic of Kazakhstan & DIFC Courts

LEBANON SYRIA

TUNISIA

PALESTINE JORDAN

MOROCCO ALGERIA LIBYA

MAURITANIA

The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (SDNY)

IRAQ KUWAIT

BAHRAIN QATAR SAUDI ARABIA

SUDAN

The The Republic of Kazakhstan (2009) Republic of China The National (2004) The Paris Court Convention Administration of (1992) Ras Al Khaimah the Supreme Court of Korea & the DIFC Courts DIFC

COURTS The Tunisian The Arab Republic Republic The Riyadh The GCC (1975) of Egypt Convention Convention (2000) (1983) (1996)

OMAN

MAURITANIA

Commercial Court of England and Wales

YEMEN DJIBOUTI SOMALIA

Shanghai High people’s court

The High Court of Kenya (Commercial and Admiralty Division)

The Supreme Court of Singapore

The Federal Court of The New South Australia Wales Supreme Court

THE RIYADH CONVENTION (1983)

TREATIES

THE GCC CONVENTION (1996)

MEMORANDUM OF GUIDANCE/ MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING

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SERVICE EXCELLENCE 1. The third measure by which the DIFC Courts intend to remain among the world’s leading commercial courts is through commitment to the highest standards of service. 2. In 2017, the DIFC Courts will be working even harder to enhance our national and international standing in the delivery of commercial justice. Following our 5 star rating under the UAE Government Excellence Programme in 2016, the DIFC Courts will continue to maintain (and hopefully surpass) our standards of excellence. 3. Business Excellence initiatives will continue throughout the year, aimed at making the DIFC Courts more customer-centric and efficient, by undertaking quarterly mystery shopping surveys to ensure that no phone call goes unanswered and every email received seeking assistance is responded to promptly. The DIFC Courts will be seeking to achieve an overall mystery shopping customer satisfaction score of 90% for 2017. 4. The DIFC Courts are at the top table of global court excellence, having harnessed relationships with bodies like the International Association for Court Administration (IACA) and the International Consortium for Court Excellence (ICCE). Mark Beer, President Elect of IACA, and HE Justice Ali Al Madhani, IACA’s Vice President for the Middle East and Chairman of the Middle East Board, will both participate at the international IACA Conference in Washington in July 2017.

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INNOVATION 1. Lastly, the fourth way the DIFC Courts intend to remain among the world’s leading commercial courts is by being the most innovative. The DIFC Courts will stay at the forefront of court innovation and technology by launching new initiatives to deliver justice ever more swiftly and efficiently. 2. The DIFC Courts will contribute to ideas and shape international debate looking for ways to innovate and embrace change as a future-friendly court. 3. In line with Dubai’s vision to become a ‘smart city’ and make use of sophisticated technology to provide better public services, this year the DIFC Courts will be reviewing our current case management system to ensure that it best supports our users’ needs.

5. Where the DIFC Courts are satisfied that there is a working email address, service will be offered by way of email as a right, rather than having to exhaust all other options first. This proposal will be introduced initially via the SCT, with a view to broader adoption over time. And if email service works, consideration will also be given to looking at other forms of electronic service, possibly via Facebook and other services. 6. At the suggestion of the Courts’ Users’ Committee, the DIFC Courts will be working with its Rules Subcommittee to look at our Rules on Service with a view to adjusting them based on practice and to raise awareness of how to effect service.

4. This year will see further Small Claims Tribunal innovation, this time in the area of legal representation in hearings before the SCT. For 2017, the DIFC Courts have introduced a mechanism that allows an individual litigant in person to be given the opportunity to have legal representation in a SCT hearing where the other side is a corporate party being represented by in house Counsel, and that will realign the scales of fairness and equality between the parties.

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Justice

Sir David Steel UK

Justice Sir David Steel was appointed as a Judge of the DIFC Courts in 2011 and as Deputy Chief Justice in April 2016. Prior to this, Justice David Steel served as a Judge of the High Courts on the Queen’s Bench Division from 1998 onwards. Justice David Steel was appointed as Judge of the Commercial Court and an Admiralty Judge from 1998 onwards. He also served as a Judge in charge of the Commercial Court in the High Court of London from 2006 to 2008 having been the presiding Judge of the Western Circuit from 2002 to 2006.

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H.E. Justice Omar Al Muhairi was appointed as a Senior Judicial Officer at the DIFC Courts in August 2005. H.E. Justice Omar Al Muhairi brings to the DIFC Courts an in-depth knowledge of the workings of the Dubai judicial system. In 1994, H.E. Justice Omar Al Muhairi was appointed as a Prosecutor for Dubai Public Prosecution and served as Prosecutor until 1998. In 1998, he was appointed by the Ruler of Dubai to serve as a Judge in the Dubai Courts. During his tenure as a Judge, H.E. Justice Omar Al Muhairi dealt with a large number of major criminal, commercial and civil cases.

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Justice

H.E. Omar Juma Al Muhairi UAE


Justice

Roger Giles Australia

Justice Roger David Giles was appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales in 1988, and sat in the Commercial Division becoming Chief Judge of that Division in 1994. In 1998, he was appointed to the Court of Appeal, from which he retired in December 2011. Mr. Giles is a graduate in Arts (1961) and Law (1965, Hons 1) from Sydney University, and holds a Bachelor of Civil Law (1968, Hons 1) from Oxford University. He served articles of clerkship and was a solicitor at a Sydney firm before going to the New South Wales Bar in 1971. During the earlier years of his career, he lectured and tutored at Sydney University.

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In January 2008, HE Ali Shamis Al Madhani was sworn in as a Judge of the DIFC Courts, and in April 2008 he was appointed and sworn in as a Judge of the DIFC Courts Court of Appeal. He was later appointed as a member of the Joint Committee of the Dubai Courts. He began his judicial career in 1994 until 1998 as a Public Prosecutor for Dubai Public Prosecution. In 1998, he was appointed by the Ruler of Dubai to serve as a Judge in the Dubai Courts. During his tenure as a Dubai Courts’ Judge, he was adjudicated over a large number of major commercial, criminal and civil cases. H.E. Justice Ali Al Madhani is the Current Chairman of the Middle East Board for Courts Administration under the International Association for Court Administration (IACA).

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Justice

H.E. Ali Shamis Al Madhani UAE


Justice

TUN Zaki Azmi Malaysia

Justice Tun Zaki Azmi joined the DIFC Courts in December 2013. Retired as the Chief Justice of Malaysia in September 2011, upon reaching the retirement age of judges of the superior courts in Malaysia. His greatest achievement as Chief Justice was to clear the longstanding back log of cases affecting the Malaysian courts and to reduce the hearing time for newly filed cases, an achievement which was recognised by the World Bank.

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H.E Justice Shamlan Al Sawalehi has a breadth and depth of experience and knowledge on international financial service disputes in both Common and Civil law systems. He joined the DIFC Courts in 2010 as a Judicial Officer before becoming a Small Claims Tribunal Judge and then a Court of First Instance Judge. H.E Justice Shamlan holds a Master Degree with Merits in International Commercial Law from Westminster University in the UK, a Higher Diploma with Honors in Advanced Legal and Judicial Studies from the Dubai Judicial Institution, and a Bachelor with distinction in Shari’a and Law from the UAE University.

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Justice

H.E. Shamlan Al Sawalehi UAE


Justice

Sir Richard Field UK

Justice Sir Richard Alan Field was appointed as a Judge of the DIFC Courts in January 2015. A British national, he most recently served as Judge in Charge of the Commercial Court in London, which deals with complex cases arising from business disputes, with a particular emphasis on international trade, banking, commodities, and arbitration disputes. Justice Field was called to the Bar in 1977 and appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1987. He served as a Deputy Judge of the High Court of Justice from 1997 to 2002 and as Justice of the High Court of England & Wales from 2002 to 2014, including as Presiding Judge on the Western Circuit between 2008 and 2012.

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Justice Sir John Chadwick was appointed as a Judge of the DIFC Courts in January 2008, having served for 10 years until 2007 as a Judge of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales. He had previously held senior judicial appointments as a Judge of the High Court of England and Wales (Chancery Division), and a Judge of the Courts of Appeal of Jersey and Guernsey. Justice Sir John Chadwick was called to the Bar of England and Wales in 1966. He was standing counsel to the UK Department of Trade and Industry from 1974 until 1980, when he was appointed Queen’s Counsel. In private practice he undertook both litigation and advisory work; principally in property, company, insolvency, banking and insurance matters. His experience includes litigation in Malaysia, Hong Kong and Bermuda.

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Justice

John Chadwick UK


Justice

Sir Jeremy Cooke UK

Sir Jeremy Cooke is a graduate of St Edmund Hall, Oxford from 19671970 and has an MA 1st Class Honours degree in Jurisprudence. Sir Jeremy Cooke was an Articled Clerk with Speechly Mumford and Soames 19711973, admitted as a solicitor in 1973. He was called to the Bar 1976 (Lincoln’s Inn), Droop Scholar and practiced at the Commercial Bar, specialising in Commercial Court and Arbitration work. He served as a High Court Judge, Queen’s Bench Division, 2001 and then was appointed to the Commercial Court in 2003. Justice Sir Jeremy Cooke was appointed as a Judge of the DIFC Courts on 13 April 2016.

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Justice Judith Prakash was appointed Judge of the DIFC Courts in March 2017, a position she holds concurrently with her position as a Judge of Appeal of the Supreme Court of Singapore. Justice Prakash joined the Supreme Court of Singapore as Judicial Commissioner in 1992 before becoming Judge in 1995. She was appointed Judge of Appeal on 1 August 2016. Justice Prakash received her Bachelor of Laws (Hons) Degree from the University of Singapore in 1974. She was admitted as an advocate and solicitor in Singapore the following year. Before assuming a position on the Bench, Justice Prakash was in private practice specialising in shipping and commercial law. In 2005, she was bestowed the Public Service Medal by the President of the Republic of Singapore for her work as Chair of the Board of Governors of Raffles Girls’ School.

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Justice

Judith Prakash Singapore


Senior Registrar

Mark Beer, OBE UK

Mark joined the DIFC Courts in 2008 as Registrar and became Chief Executive in 2009. He is a Judge of the Courts’ Small Claims Tribunal, Chairman of the DIFC Legal Group, a Member of the DIFC Courts’ Rules Subcommittee, Registrar of the Special Tribunal Related to Dubai World and Chief Executive of the Dispute Resolution Authority. In 2010 he was elected the VicePresident of the Middle East for the International Association for Court Administration.

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Amna joined the DIFC Courts in October 2006. Amna has played a key part in the establishment and development of the DIFC Courts. Amna’s role is to support the judicial bench in the management and day-today administration of the DIFC Courts. Amna undertakes various judicial functions and other duties as prescribed in Article 17 of the DIFC Courts Law No. 10 of 2004.

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Deputy Registrar

Amna Sultan Al Owais UAE


Ground floor, Building 4 The Gate District, PO Box 211724, Dubai, UAE T : +9714 427 3333 F : +9714 427 3330 E : contactus@difccourts.ae @DIFCCourts

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