A Brief Overview of Litigation in Dubai

A Brief Overview of Litigation in Dubai

Litigation Excellence

As litigation lawyers, we get many questions from lay clients requesting us to differentiate Dubai Courts from DIFC Courts. In this part 1 briefing, we will be pinpointing the basics of the Dubai Court system and in a follow on, part 2 briefing, we will look to discuss the basics of the DIFC Court system.

Understanding the main differences between the two court systems would enable businesses to decide which litigation dispute resolution forum to choose.

  1. Cases dealt with in the Dubai Courts include: Civil, Criminal, Personal Status, and Real Property.
  2. Proceedings are conducted in Arabic therefore a ‘local advocate’ would need to be appointed for this purpose;
  3. There is a three tier court system in Dubai which consist of the following:
  • The Court of First Instance (CFI) – one judge usually presides over proceedings in this first stage of the litigation process. A claim is filed at court which sets out the particulars of the dispute, the remedy which is sought by the Plaintiff, experts are appointed and hearing dates are set whereby the parties have the opportunity to state their position and answer any queries that a judge may have. Once a judge believes he has all the information that is required, a date is set for judgment to be handed down.
  • The Court of Appeal (CoA) – three judge usually preside over proceedings in this second stage of the litigation process where a party appeals their CFI decision to this court. Appeals against a CFI Judgment can either be in relation to issues of fact or issues of law that have arisen as a result of the CFI decision. Parties often appeal to the Court of Appeal as a tactical move in order to lengthen the time before a judgment is enforceable. The minimum claim is in the sum of AED 20,000. Generally speaking, for claims that are under AED 200,000, they do not proceed to the Court of Cassation, they stop at the Court of Appeal and then proceed straight to enforcement.
  • The Court of Cassation (CC) – five judges usually preside over proceedings. All decisions of the CC are final and binding and are not subject to appeal. The minimum claim is in the sum of AED 200,000. A party can only appeal on a point of law (for example, on an erroneous application of the law or misinterpretation of the law).
  1. Expert evidence is widely used and heavily relied on by judges in the Dubai Courts. Experts are appointed from a specific list of court-appointed experts. Their main objective is to review the technical aspects of the case, meet with the parties to review the case (and obtain further information if need be) and thereafter compile a report which would be submitted to the Court.
  2. With regards to costs, if a claim is successful, then a plaintiff is usually awarded judgment for the court fees, the expert’s fees and a nominal amount of the advocate’s fees (approx. AED 1,000 – 2,000).

This article does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. For specific advice, please contact Head of Litigation and Property Department Nichola Reece-Burton.

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