United Arab Emirates: Arbitration Law Under The United Nations Commission On International Trade Law

Last Updated: 18 July 2019
Article by STA Law Firm
Most Read Contributor in United Arab Emirates, July 2019

Established on 17 December 1966, The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) was founded in response to the realization that the trans-global community is acutely economically connected. Understanding this assembly, UNCITRAL was enacted to govern bodies participating in international trade and investment. UNCITRAL's parent organization, the United Nations General Assembly, developed the legal framework "in pursuance of its mandate to further the progressive harmonization and modernization of the law of international trade by preparing and promoting the use and adoption of legislative and non-legislative instruments in a number of key areas of law."Involving multiple tiers of domestic and international legislative enforcement, UNCITRAL represents the focal point of United Nations international trade law. UNCITRAL legitimizes its mandate through encouraging cooperation amongst Member States, promoting the growth of international participation, modernizing and adopting international conventions benefitting trade, ensuring clear and uniform interpretation by signatories, cultivating unity with other branches of the UN, and interceding when necessary to execute its functions. As of 2004, 60 states, representing both developing and developed economies, held membership in UNCITRAL. Expressed in the Preamble of the General Assembly Resolution 2205 (XXI), the establishment of UNCITRAL is predominantly founded on the belief "that the interests of all peoples, and particularly those of developing countries, demand the betterment of conditions favouring the extensive development of international trade." Through the enactment of the Commission, legal barriers hindering the progress of international trade, are circumvented. Legislatively, UNCITRAL addresses several matters related to trade, including (but not limited to): international sale of goods, international payments, electronic commerce, international transport of products, and international dispute resolution (including arbitration).

International Commercial Arbitration and UNCITRAL

Seeking to both modernize and fuse international trade laws, three categories of techniques have been adopted by UNCITRAL. These systems include: legislative procedures, contractual texts, and explanatory doctrine. Under UNCITRAL, numerous legislative documents govern international commercial arbitration. For the purpose of this article, discussion of UNCITRAL arbitration regulations will be narrowed to: the Convention of International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation, UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules, and the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration.

  • United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation (not yet in force)

Disclosed in the draft's Preamble, UNCITRAL Member Parties recognize that arbitration holds prospective amicable value in settling commercial disputes arising from international trade. Also outlined in the Preamble is the Convention's intended purpose. Parties to the Convention hope to establish a "...framework for international settlement agreements resulting from mediation that is acceptable to States with different legal, social and economic systems [which would] contribute to the development of harmonious international economic relations."

Article 1 of the drafted Convention explains the "Scope of Application" for international settlement agreements resulting from mediation. A settled agreement is considered international (and therefore governable by the Convention) if at minimum, two parties involved in the settlement operate their places of business in different states (Article 1(1)). Should either party have their businesses within the same state, the scope can still be considered international under Article 1(1(b)) if the state which houses the businesses is different than the state "in which a substantial part of the obligations under the settlement agreement is performed; or...The State with which the subject matter of the settlement agreement is most closely connected." Article 1(2) also defines various types of settlement agreements that are nonapplicable under the Convention. Concisely, any settlement agreement involving a consumer transaction dispute, inheritance or employment law, or previous court proceeding, does not apply to the Convention.

Should a party wish to use the Convention to seek relief, Article 4(1) requires that party to provide: 1) A settlement agreement signed by each party, and 2) Proof the agreement resulted from mediation technique. The Convention requires all relief requests be handled "expeditiously" by an authority of the Party to the Convention (Article 4(5)).

Just as an authority of the Party to the Convention can grant relief, they are also able to refuse assistance. Relief can be denied (Article 5) if the non-relief seeking party can prove: party incapacity occurred during settlement agreement, the settlement is void or impracticable in relation to the law subjected, the arrangement is not binding, settlement obligations are unclear, or "granting relief would be contrary to the public policy of that [State] Party."

Notably, the Convention stresses in Article 7 "Other laws or treaties" that the Convention will not revoke a relief seeking party its right to obtain a settlement agreement in a method permitted by "the law or the treaties of the Party to the Convention where such settlement agreement is sought to be relied on."

  • UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules

The UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules (1976) offer member parties a detailed selection of procedural rules outlining the conduct of commercial arbitral proceedings. Beyond guiding all stages of and roles involved with the arbitral process, the Arbitration Rules also include a model arbitration clause. The text can be utilized to resolve a variety of disputes such as those occurring between private commercial parties, an investor and a State, and between two States. Since 1976, the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules have been revised three times, resulting in an enhancement of efficiency and innovation. The 2010 revision included Rules on Transparency in investor-State arbitration.

  • UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration

Adopted in 1985, the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration is fashioned as a recommendatory document encouraging Member States to consider "the desirability of uniformity of the law of arbitral procedures and the specific needs of international commercial arbitration practice" (Preamble). The Model Law was initially designed to address previously perceived incongruities existing within national laws on arbitration. Although the Model Law is a prescriptive document, numerous states have structured their national arbitration laws based on the protocols. The UAE's recently issued Federal Law No. 6 of 2018 (the Arbitration Law) is broadly designed around the Model Law.

Chapter 1: General Provisions

The Model Law, according to Article 1, applies to international commercial arbitration amongst Member States. Due to the fact the Law is intended to govern multiple states, Article 2 (A) clarifies the need for interpretive regard to the Law's "...international origin and to the need to promote uniformity in its application and the observance of good faith." Under the Law (unless specified within the provisions), courts are not permitted to intervene in governed matters.

Chapter Two: Arbitration Agreement

Distinguished in Article 7(1), an "'Arbitration agreement' is an agreement by the parties to submit to arbitration all or certain disputes which have arisen or which may arise between them in respect of a defined legal relationship...." The Law requires courts presiding over cases subject to an arbitration agreement to refer parties to arbitration. However, Article 9 permits parties of an arbitration agreement to request "...from a court an interim measure of protection and for a court to grant such measure."

Chapter Three: Composition of Arbitral Tribunals

The prescribed composition of an arbitral tribunal is outlined in chapter three of the Law. While parties can select how many arbitrators they choose to have present, arbitrators "...shall disclose any circumstances likely to give rise to justifiable doubts as to his impartiality or independence" (Article 12). If justifiable doubt develops, an arbitrator may be challenged. The challenge procedure is established in Article 13. Granted freedom to choose the method through which the party intends to challenge the arbitrator, a party must send a statement (describing their grounds to challenge) within 15 days of becoming aware of the justifiable doubts.

Chapter Four: Jurisdiction of Arbitral Tribunal

The Law permits a tribunal to operate within their own jurisdiction, however, should a plea be raised questioning a tribunal's scope of authority, that plea cannot be issued later than the statement of defence's submission (Article 16).

Chapter Five: Interim Measures

Article 17 endows arbitral tribunals the power to grant interim measures per party request. According to this section (Article 17(2)), a temporary rule can be issued to order a party to: "(a) Maintain or restore the status quo pending determination of the dispute; (b) Take action that would prevent, or refrain from taking action that is likely to cause, current or imminent harm or prejudice to the arbitral process itself; (c) Provide a means of preserving assets out of which a subsequent award may be satisfied; or (d) Preserve evidence that may be relevant and material to the resolution of the dispute." Through Article 17 D., a tribunal is also capable of modifying, suspending, or terminating granted interim measures.

Chapter Six: Conduct of Arbitral Proceedings

The Law (Article 18) requires all parties to be equitably treated and allowed "full opportunity." Parties, upon agreement, are permitted to select their arbitration location and preferred language used during the proceeding. During the proceeding, according to Article 23(1), "the claimant shall state the facts supporting his claim, the points at issue and the relief or remedy sought, and the respondent shall state his defence in respect of these particulars...." In the case of contrary agreements (Article 24(1)), an arbitral tribunal can choose to hold an oral hearing to present evidence, "on whether the proceeding shall be conducted on the basis of documents and other materials."

Chapter Seven: Making of Award and Termination of Proceedings

Under Article 28, disputes are decided through applying the appropriate rule of law selected by the parties. The designation "...of the law or legal system of a given State shall be construed...as directly referring to the substantive law of that State and not to its conflict of laws rules" (Article 28(1)). Decisions must abide by the terms of the contract and consider trade applicability to the transaction.

Chapter Nine: Recognition and Enforcement of Awards

Regardless of the country in which the arbitral award was decided, the award is considered binding. Enforcement of an award can be refused under certain conditions (Article 36(1)), which include: during the agreement a party was under incapacity, a party was not granted proper notice of the appointment, the award does not fall within arbitration's jurisdiction, or the award is not yet binding.

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
BSA Ahmad Bin Hezeem & Associates LLP
In association with
Practice Guides
by Mondaq Advice Centres
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
James Berry and Associates Legal Consultants
BSA Ahmad Bin Hezeem & Associates LLP
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