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02 December 2023

DIFC Courts signals surge in cases from SMEs

By Wam

The Dubai International Financial Centre, DIFC, Courts today released its figures for the first half of 2019, with a total volume of 463 cases across all divisions for the first six months of 2019, a 25 percent increase from the first half of 2018.

The English-language common law courts continued to assist global businesses resolve their largest and most complex disputes, while becoming the increasingly prevalent forum for settling the smaller claims of corporations, SMEs and individuals.

The main Court of First Instance, CFI, including arbitration-related cases and counterclaims, continued to provide business certainty, with the total value of cases recorded as AED2 billion.

The period was also notable for a significant increase in the number of enforcement cases, indicating the assurance businesses have in the DIFC Courts to collect on money judgments. The total caseload of enforcement claims filed witnessed a 16 percent increase from H1 2018, with a total of 101, rising from 87 in the same period in 2018.

The delivery of the region’s first Small Claims Tribunal, SCT, in the first six months of 2019 was particularly striking, with its caseload increasing by 34 percent to 321 claims (H1 2018: 240 cases). This growth was partly driven by greater awareness campaigns through local strategic partnerships, including a cooperation agreement with Dubai Healthcare City Authority and the launch of the Special Complaints Referral Centre.

Reinforcing the ‘Smart’ SCT’s increasing appeal to individuals and SMEs, the total value of claims increased by 23 percent in the H1 2019, rising from AED30.6 million to AED37.5 million.

Amna Al Owais, Chief Registrar at DIFC Courts, said, "The first half of 2019 saw the DIFC Courts serve the biggest multinationals, the smallest start-ups, and individuals, seeking justice with equal consideration. When it comes to resolving disputes, businesses like choice and they need certainty - few rational companies would invest money, resources or intellectual property in a country with questions marks around legal protection. Likewise, effective commercial courts are essential enablers for local companies to thrive and have become major points of difference within the region in the race for global investment.

He added that businesses and individuals in Dubai are free to choose between litigation and arbitration; common or civil law; English or Arabic language - whichever system best suits their specific needs. "Our performance so far this year speaks to the maturity of the DIFC Courts, our position as a valued public service, and cements our status as a regional leader in the field of commercial justice."

The first six months of 2019 witnessed a total of 549 wills registered at the DIFC Courts, bringing the total since the inception of this ancillary service to over 5,160, with more than 85 lawyers representing more than 80 law firms, based in the UAE and overseas, registered as Wills Draftsmen.

In July 2019 the DIFC Courts announced changes to the rules of wills registrations, which will now accommodate all resident and investor assets across the Emirates, as well as assets held outside the UAE.