United Arab Emirates: Emergency Arbitration And Expedited Proceedings

Last Updated: 22 November 2018
Article by STA Law Firm
Most Read Contributor in United Arab Emirates, September 2019

There never really seems to be ample time available to get the problematic and wary things done. At the same time, when there is nothing to be done, time cannot seem to move fast enough; this can seem frustrating to one when deadlines approach more quickly than they can are achievable, and there is seemingly no more straightforward route about it.

It can be much the same for court proceedings. Issues brought before the court are often complex, as would be expected since a resolution was not possible beyond the court. However, complex problems require in-depth analysis from external parties, and therefore, there are often large amounts of evidence to be pored over. Still, even considering all of this, a case can go on for months or even longer. A further reason for this may be court processes that require observation. There will be numerous cases occurring at the same time, and with limited time in the day, days turn to weeks and so on.

There are cases, however, that require the utmost attention from the get-go, and would suffer as a result of lengthy processes and a lengthy or delayed judgment. The age-old adage of 'Justice delayed is justice denied' comes to mind. Should a delay result in a party not receiving a just verdict due to the duration of time that has passed, justice may not be deemed wholly served; this is an issue that is well known, and governmental bodies and authorities around the world are aware of this. To bring about change though, the administrative regulations of countries will require changing to accommodate for cases that need haste. However, for a legal system to be the best it can be, this change is one which is necessary.

Court attention is precious, and their time is one of the most significant value. Wasted court time is an equivalent to lost money. As such, there have been various implementations in different nations which attempt to streamline the processes, or 'trim the fat'.

The UAE (the Emirate of Dubai to be more specific) has recently implemented the likes of the Penal Order Law Number 1 of 2017 which has put in place 24 hours long, 2 step verdicts; this will allow for the dealing of the more straightforward cases to be swift from start to finish, and leave more time for the more significant matters.

Expediting Court Proceedings

The above mentioned Penal Order Law has been one of the steps taken to help facilitate the court processes. One of the new implementations is that of a one-day court. Cases that are deemed to fall into specific categories (those simple enough or small enough) can then go through and conclude within 24 hours.

The court will specifically cover small misdemeanor cases. Often these are brought before a court, which could be spending their time on complex and challenging situations. Now, they will be able to do so. The amount of money that can saveable as a result of this is predicted to be around AED 40 million per year, and it will have the added benefit of clearing up the ordinary courts' schedule.

This specific one day court is currently only in effect in Dubai for the time being and is already dealing with large quantities of cases. Following the introduction, the judges began to settle thousands of cases per month, with varying types of situations handled. The most common form of cases is those relating to bounced checks, with one judge stating that around 80% of the cases he seemed to deal with related to just this topic. They also deal with matters regarding alcohol (illegal consumption and possession), begging, illicit vendors and sex outside of marriage to name the primary culprits. There are a total of close to 20 types of situations and cases that this court is equipped to deal with and matters such as these have clear regulations which prevent them, and the repercussions are generally quite simple to arrive to, and issue from the judges' end. For example, any claim concerning a bounced check of which the value is over AED 150,000 will result in a jail sentence, and anything less will carry a monetary fine relative to the total.

The cases are brought to this new court by the police stations in the city. As of March 8, 2018, it has been their responsibility to bring any misdemeanor cases they come into contact with before the one-day court. There are numerous advantages to this, including the fact that, since the police and the court will be working together, they can bypass the standard court procedures entirely. The police officers catch the act of misdemeanor, or it is brought to their attention as one would expect, and then it is their responsibility to commence the necessary procedures; this forms an entirely separate system, and it is this disconnect that is partially the cause of the forecasted savings.

Of course, the court deals merely with the individual involved in the misdemeanor. However, they can often be cases in which the activities impact further individuals. If this is the case, those individuals will still be able to proceed through the regular Civil courts in seeking compensation.

Of course, another major point to consider here is that time-saving occurs on all fronts. Wastage of Court time will not happen as well as the time of the people involved. From the time of their initial apprehension at the hands of the police to the time their sentence is passed will take a few days at most. It has been further stated that the general waiting times for cases to be heard will also fall by approximately 60%, thus streamlining the entire system.

What steps are being taken for emergency Arbitration?

In cases where the issue is not one that is criminal, but instead, Civil, the one day court will not be of much help though; this is compounded further when looking towards commercial agreements. Businesses often will choose to take the route of arbitration at least as a first resort. The reason for this is as it may allow for mutual agreements and favorable outcomes for all parties involved; this could mean that in the future, the entities can continue to work together peacefully, with no hostility held between them.

The Dubai International Arbitration Centre (DIAC) is the body that manages all aspects of arbitration from the cases to the regulations that cover the area. Established in 1994, and until relatively recently, utilizing the Federal Law Number 11 of 1992. There have been further regulations introduced throughout the years though, and the most recent addition has been the Federal Decree Number 6 of 2018 added earlier in the year. This law is now the governing regulation on the topic of arbitration in the UAE.

A further reason for the introduction of this law is that Arbitration is an international issue. In order to stand upon the global stage with the rest of the developed world, a country requires the most up to date and complementary regulation on a topic.

In the cases which demand instant results from arbitration, there are options available. For example, under the new regulations, there is the section on interim measures. Article 21 covers the scope of when and why interim steps should arise, and within it is stated that upon agreement between the parties involved, the tribunal covering the case may:

  1. Place an order for the preservation or protection of evidence that could hold weight during the remainder of the case;
  2. Further, goods that require protection may also, through interim measures, relocate to a place where they will receive the necessary protection;
  3. Resorting issues to their normal states for the remaining duration of the case; and
  4. Take specific action that could prevent harm to any individuals.

These last two points could have some interesting implications for future cases. Generally, all of the points as mentioned above will mean that should there be anything which requires immediate attention, it is up to one or both of the parties to bring it to the attention of the tribunal in charge of their case and more immediate action can be taken to protect assets etc.

What will all of this achieve?

The critical thing to be taken away from all of this is that the UAE is attempting to streamline its legal processes whether that be the court or the arbitration system. The court changes will allow for greater saving of court money and the time of general individuals and the courts.

Arbitration regulations will affect the international standing of the country due to the global nature of the processes and rules. The new 2018 regulations have refreshed the system and will allow for greater pushes to make arbitration the norm in most situations in which it may be applicable.

As a whole, these steps are indeed required within the country; especially the Arbitration Law update due to its international nature. The improved standing it will provide the state internationally is invaluable. The one day court concept, while currently specific to Dubai does have similar counterparts within the rest of the country. The single-day idea may not be the same or the issues the court deals with may vary, though rapid case verdicts on more straightforward cases are essential. Ras al Khaimah's one-day Civil court deals with minor Civil and generally attempts to have them completed within a day.

This changing landscape is indeed a good trend and one that could save the country tens or even hundreds of millions of dirhams annually once entirely nationally implemented as well as save court time and the time of other individuals on wait within the court system.

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.

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