United Arab Emirates: Expo 2020 - Part 5: Managing And Resolving Construction Disputes

Last Updated: 21 November 2014
Article by Chris Edwards and Paul Taylor


Since Dubai's successful 2020 Expo bid, development of new and re-invigorated construction projects has increased significantly. Tenders and new contracts are once more being awarded for a wide range of infrastructure and development projects across the Emirates. Within those contracts, but often overlooked or not considered properly in the rush of publicity for new projects, are dispute resolution clauses. Choosing sensible and workable ways of resolving disputes has long term benefits for those involved.

The UAE Courts

  • The default position in the UAE is to resolve disputes through litigation in the local Arabic Courts. The federal court structure of the UAE provides for a Court of First Instance, Court of Appeal and Court of Cassation (which is the final court). The Emirate of Dubai has its own local court structure independent of the federal courts.
  • As a civil law country, there is no doctrine of binding caselaw precedent in the UAE, although court decisions are often considered indicative of the interpretation and application of laws, particularly Court of Cassation judgments.
  • Litigation in the UAE carries inherent procedural and evidentiary risks and decisions of the UAE Courts can vary considerably between the Court of First Instance and the Court of Cassation. The language of the UAE Courts is Arabic and therefore local cases and processes can be difficult to follow for non-Arabic speakers.
  • In 2004, the Courts of the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) were established. The jurisdiction of the DIFC Courts was originally limited to DIFC matters, for example disputes involving the DIFC, DIFC establishments or where a contract was executed in the DIFC. However, since 2011 parties may elect to resolve disputes in the DIFC Courts even where there is no nexus with the DIFC, provided both parties agree in writing to submit to the Courts' jurisdiction.


  • Under UAE law, parties may opt to resolve disputes by way of arbitration and thereby "contract out" of the Courts. Arbitration in the UAE is governed by the Civil Procedure Code which provides for example for the appointment of an arbitral tribunal and the validity of an arbitration award. It has long been contemplated that a new federal arbitration law will update the UAE Civil Procedure Code with a more detailed framework for arbitration. However, to date only a draft has been published.
  • Arbitration is often the preferred mechanism of dispute resolution as the inherent risks of litigation in the UAE Courts can be reduced by the careful choice of tribunal members, the applicable language and law, and the institutional rules to be followed by the tribunal and the parties.
  • Arbitration is well recognised in the UAE and offers an effective and confidential alternative to Court proceedings. The parties to the dispute can decide on the scope, language, location, rules, arbitrators and timetable. It also provides for a binding resolution to a dispute through its award process.
  • An arbitration award must be ratified in the UAE Courts. The Courts are not permitted to re-examine the merits of a case. However, there are a number of procedural grounds on which an award may be struck out, for example where the arbitration agreement does not extend to the subject matter of the award or contains a time limit which has been exceeded.
  • The list of procedural grounds to strike out an award is quite extensive. However, it is worth noting that many jurisdictions, and even the 1958 New York Convention on the Enforcement of Foreign Arbitration Awards, contain similar provisions.
  • Parties unfamiliar with UAE arbitrations should be cautious, as UAE Courts put considerable emphasis on procedural requirements. Arbitration awards have been overturned for apparently insignificant errors such as failing to swear in a witness using the oath prescribed by law or the tribunal's failure to fully and properly execute the award.
  • It is therefore important when appointing tribunal members (and legal representatives) to ensure they are experienced arbitration practitioners.

Alternatives to litigation and arbitration

  • There are alternatives to litigation and arbitration. These are often incorporated into contracts as mandatory preliminary stages of a dispute which ensure all options are exhausted prior to escalating to litigation or arbitration.
  • One such example is mediation whereby parties negotiate with the assistance of a third party (the mediator). A mediator does not make an award and has no power to bind the parties.
  • Unlike many common law jurisdictions, such as the UK where mediation is entrenched, mediation in the UAE is not generally a recognised or a legally prescribed form of dispute resolution. However, efforts have been made to encourage its use and a number of forums now recognise, encourage and facilitate mediation for example the DIFC-LCIA Arbitration Centre under the rules contained in the LCIA Mediation Procedure.
  • There are many advantages to mediation, such as confidentiality, cost effectiveness, speed and commerciality.
  • A further alternative is adjudication where a dispute is submitted to a third party or parties (the adjudicators). This process is similar to arbitration. However, it is a quicker and less formal process. The adjudicator will make a decision based on the submissions of the parties. However, it is not enforceable in the UAE Courts as of right and requires enforcement as a stand-alone contractual agreement.
  • The introduction of the dispute adjudication board (DAB) into the FIDIC suite of contracts, which are widely used in construction contracts in the UAE, has increased awareness and use of adjudication in the region.


  • Careful consideration needs to be given to the wording and form of any dispute resolution clauses that are incorporated into a contract. Failure to properly address dispute resolution during the negotiation of a contract may leave a party frustrated and subject to a long and costly process, in a forum which is neither favourable nor effective for the particular requirements of the project and the parties.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
James Berry and Associates Legal Consultants
Rubert & Partners (In association with United Advocates)
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
James Berry and Associates Legal Consultants
Rubert & Partners (In association with United Advocates)
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions