A General Overview of the Litigation Process of the Dubai Courts

A General Overview of the Litigation Process of the Dubai Courts

Litigation Excellence

When a matter is litigated through the Dubai Courts, there are a number of steps that one would need to be aware of as the case progresses through the Courts. Below is a breakdown of these steps which exemplifies the approximate time it would take to resolve a case through Dubai Courts.

  1. The claim is filed online with the Court of First Instance (CFI) and when accepted, the CFI will notify the parties of the first case management hearing. Exchange of documents and pleadings is done initially at the Case Management Department who will then transfer the file before the appropriate chamber of the CFI. The claim must be served on the Defendant by personal service. If personal service is not possible (usually because the recipient refuses to accept service) then the CFI will order alternative service of the claim e.g., by publication in 2 newspapers (an English version and an Arabic version).

  2. Once served, if the Defendant is legally represented at Court, he will have the opportunity to file his power of attorney (POA) and a defence to the claim memo and a counterclaim (if applicable). The CFI tends to adjourn the case each time a new response has to be filed.
  3. It is usual for an expert to be appointed to establish the facts and to collate all the necessary documentation in order to make a report on the findings. Thereafter the judge will usually make his decision as to the facts, based on the contents on the report. If an expert is to be appointed by the CFI, the fees generally vary according to the complexity of the case.
  4. The Judge will then issue his Judgment. This can take anywhere from approximately 4 months upwards from issuing the claim online.
  5. A party wishing to appeal must do so within 30 days of the Judgment being served on them or published in the newspaper. An appeal generally can be made to the Court of Appeal (CA) if the value of the claim is over AED 50,000 for all matters except labour cases where the limit is AED 20,000.
  6. The CA can overturn the CFI’s decision if it deems that factually or legally, the CFI decision was incorrect. This stage can take around 6 months or more to complete.
  7. A party wishing to appeal from the CA to the Court of Cassation (CC) must do so within 60 days of the Judgment. If an appeal is made to the CC, the applicant will also need to make an application for stay of execution of the judgment if execution proceedings have been initiated. Only claims of more than AED 200,000 are subject to Cassation.
  8. The CC can only overturn a decision of the CA on a point of law, and will refer the matter back to the lower court to apply the correct law. This stage can take approximately 9 months or more to complete.
  9. If the judgment becomes final, (which is once the CA decision has been made, or no appeal has been filed within the time frames permitted) it will be executed through the enforcement department of Dubai Courts if the debtors’ assets are located in Dubai. This means applying for the Court to make enquiries of e.g. the Dubai Land Department (DLD), Dubai Economic Department (DED), Banks, and RTA etc. to locate possible assets to execute against. The assets would then be attached and eventually sold at auction to recover the Judgment debt – this is of course, unless the debtor pays the Judgment through other means.

Although the above mentioned process and fees relates to claims issued in the Dubai Court, there is every possibility that the DIFC Courts may be the better forum for you/ your company’s dispute resolution. This is a matter that will be discussed by JBA’s Head of Litigation and Dispute Resolution at the time of engagement of our services and will be included in your Terms of Business.

This article does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. For specific advice, please contact us.

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