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Dubai tribunal accepts 'live' video evidence from overseas investor

The Dubai World Tribunal allowed Shokat Mohammed Dalal to give oral evidence from abroad at the trial, as he feared being arrested in connection with a dishonored cheque, according to the judgement.

On Tuesday (August 28), the tribunal ordered Nakheel to repay over Dh57 million to Dalal, who had bought three islands in The World project.

In a note with the judgement, the tribunal said it was satisfied that Dalal had a “genuine fear” that he would be arrested and detained if he travelled to Dubai to give evidence in the trial.

DWT Rule 29.14 states: “The Tribunal may allow a witness to give evidence through video link or by other means.”

In the note it was said that Dalal, who lives in the United Kingdom, was not willing to travel to Dubai in order to give his oral evidence because he feared that, if he did so, he would be subject to immediate arrest, detention and a no-travel ban which could prevent him from returning to his family.

The basis of the fear was that, or had been, the subject of a complaint made by Nakheel to Dubai Police in January 2012 in respect of a dishonored cheque issued by him and dishonored on June 2, 2008.

The note states that Nakheel had withdrawn the case on April 12, 2012, terming it as an “administrative error.”

An undertaking was offered that Nakheel would not re-file the complaint.

Dalal, however, stated in his fifth witness statement: “The fact that the defendants could and did make police complaint, again, without any real justification now gives me a real sense of unease in travelling to Dubai…”

The tribunal said it was impossible for it to investigate and determine whether Dalal would, in fact, be at the risk of arrest, detention and a no-travel bank if he were to travel to Dubai.

But for the Tribunal the primary question was to decide on whether to reject Dalal’s assertion that he was unwilling to travel to Dubai because he perceived the real risk that he would be arrested and detained.

The Tribunal said it referred to the observations of Lord Nicholls of Birkenhead in Polanski v Conde Nash Publications Limited [2005] UKHL 10 – a decision on the Civil Procedure Rule, applicable in the courts of England and Wales, upon which DWT 29.14 is modelled and to the subsequent decisions of the High Court of England and Wales in Bank of Credit and Commerce International v Rahim [2005] EWHC, McGlinn v Waltham Contractors Limited [2006] and Marketmaker Technology Limited v CMC Group [2008].

The note read: “The Tribunal was satisfied that there was no grounds to reject the assertion. It was satisfied that Dalal had a genuine fear that he would be arrested and detained if travelled to Dubai to give evidence in the trial of these proceedings and he would not take that risk.”

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