United Arab Emirates: Conducting Arbitration In Dubai, UAE: Further Developments

Last Updated: 27 July 2017
Article by Ben Mellors and Natalie Ledger

The DIAC-DIFC DRA Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), and the new DIFC-LCIA Arbitration Rules come into force.


Arbitration is commonly chosen by parties in the construction industry in Dubai as the forum for resolution of disputes. Two leading arbitration institutions in Dubai, UAE, are the Dubai International Arbitration Centre (DIAC) and the DIFC-LCIA Arbitration Centre.

DIAC, which was first established in 1994 as the "Centre for Commercial Conciliation and Arbitration", is an arbitration centre located in "onshore" Dubai, i.e. outside of the many free zone areas located within Dubai. It has its own arbitration rules, the current version of which is the DIAC Arbitration Rules 2007 (although DIAC has recently closed a public consultation on a draft set of new rules, the DIAC Arbitration and Conciliation Rules 2016). There is no distinct arbitration law in Dubai and therefore arbitrations seated in Dubai under the DIAC rules are governed by the UAE Civil Procedures Code.

The DIFC-LCIA Arbitration Centre is part of the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Dispute Resolution Authority (DRA). The DIFC is an "offshore" financial free zone established in 2004 which has its own independent legal system based on English common law principles. The DIFC DRA was established in 2014 and is comprised of the DIFC Courts, the DIFC-LCIA Arbitration Centre, and other institutions, including the DIFC Academy of Law, and Wills and Probate Registry. The DIFC-LCIA Arbitration Centre itself was established in the DIFC in 2008. It has its own arbitration rules, the DIFC-LCIA Arbitration Rules, which are closely modelled on the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) rules and the latest rules have just been published (see below). The DIFC has its own distinct arbitration law, which is based on the UNCITRAL Model Law. In addition, judgments of the DIFC Courts are subject to a mutual co-operation regime and an agreed enforcement protocol with the Dubai Courts, which, in principle requires the Dubai Courts to recognise those judgments without reconsidering its merits.

The enforcement procedure in the UAE requires arbitration awards to be ratified by the court. Historically, the Dubai Courts had exclusive jurisdiction to recognise and enforce arbitration awards rendered in "onshore" Dubai. However, the process for ratification of an arbitration award in the Dubai Courts has been found to be cumbersome and at times unpredictable.

A significant development then occurred in 2014 in the case of Banyan Tree v Meydan Group LLC where DIFC Court of Appeal decided that the DIFC Courts have jurisdiction to recognise and enforce arbitral awards rendered in "onshore" Dubai (including those made pursuant to DIAC Arbitration Rules), even in the absence of any geographic nexus with the DIFC.

A claim for recognition of an award before the DIFC Courts, rather than before the Dubai Courts is a more attractive option for parties as it has the potential to avoid often timely and costly proceedings with a more uncertain outcome before the Dubai Courts. Nonetheless, some uncertainty remains in respect of the correct procedure to follow and the DIAC-DIFC MoU is intended to address this.


On 20 September 2016, DIAC and the DIFC DRA, entered into a MoU for mutual corporation with an aim to further enhance their mutual goals, missions and visions.

The purpose of the MoU is for the centres to work together and exchange information in areas of mutual interest that will further enhance the centres respective strategic interest and objectives, including, amongst other things, enhancing the expedited, recognition, ratification and enforcement of DIAC arbitration awards by the DIFC Courts.

Under the terms of the MoU, the centres will work together to exchange information regarding the applicable rules and procedures relevant to the recognition, ratification and enforcement of a DIAC award by the DIFC Courts.

The centres will also work together to identify means to ensure parties are aware of the available options in Dubai when choosing a seat of arbitration under the DIAC Rules. Opting for the DIFC as the seat of arbitration in a DIAC arbitration will automatically import the application of the DIFC Arbitration Law, as the procedural law of the arbitration and therefore trigger the jurisdiction of the DIFC Courts as the 'curial' or supervisory courts of the arbitration. This will help parties to a dispute avoid sometimes unpredictable interpretation of the UAE Civil Procedures Code that sets out the potential grounds of nullification of a DIAC award with a seat in "onshore" Dubai.

DIFC-LCIA Arbitration Rules 2016

The past couple of years have seen a number of major arbitration institutions around the world issuing new arbitration rules to reflect the development and innovations in practice. The institutions in Dubai are no exception. As mentioned above, DIAC has published a draft set of new rules for public consultation. In addition, on 1 October 2016 the new DIFC-LCIA rules came into force.

The changes in the DIFC-LCIA Arbitration Rules 2016 bring these rules in line with the LCIA Rules 2014. As such, they reflect international best practice and are designed to ensure that DIFC-LCIA arbitrations are more efficient and less expensive, making them a more appealing option to parties seeking to agree dispute resolution provisions in a contract.

There are many changes in the 2016 rules when compared to the previous, 2008 rules, although most of these changes are textual. Nevertheless, four of the most important substantive changes are discussed further below.

(1) Access to an emergency arbitrator

Under the new rules, a party may, at any time before the arbitral tribunal is formed, apply for the immediate appointment of an emergency arbitrator to conduct emergency proceedings to determine matters of an urgent nature or order protective measures pending formation of the arbitral tribunal. The availability of an emergency arbitrator offers the parties a remedy to resolving matters of an urgent nature that would otherwise only be available via the courts.

(2) Multi-party arbitration and consolidation

The new rules recognise that there may be more than one claimant or respondent and give the arbitral tribunal the power to provide additional procedural directions in relation to matters such as witness statements, submissions and evidence.

Additionally, under the new rules the arbitral tribunal also have the power to order consolidation where (1) all parties agree; and (2) the other arbitration is subject to the DIFC-LCIA Rules commenced under the same arbitration agreement and between the same parties (provided that no arbitral tribunal has been formed for the other arbitration or where the arbitral tribunal is composed of the same arbitrators).

These changes address procedural difficulties that can arise when there are multiple parties to the same dispute and / or multiple contracts and therefore allow parties to avoid proceedings being delayed for the purpose of ressolving procedural uncertainties.

(3) Measures to increase efficency

The new rules provide a more efficent process for the formation of the arbitral tribunal and specifically provide that the LCIA Court shall not be delayed by any disagreement between the parties relating to the adequacy of the request for arbitration or response to request for arbitration.

The new rules also provide a quicker procedure for the appointment of a replacement, revocation and challenges to appointment, and nomination of a replacement arbitrator.

Again, this should help parties avoid proceedings being held up due to a dispute over procedural matters.

(4) Sanctions for poor conduct

Under the new rules, the arbitral tribunal is given power to sanction legal counsel for poor conduct including issuing a written reprimand or any other measure the tribunal believes is necessary for it to ensure its ability to maintain its general duties is preserved.


These developments are a positive step to bringing arbitration procedures and practices in Dubai inline with international standards and are likely to be welcomed by users of both DIAC and DIFC-LCIA arbitration.

Originally published October 2016

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.

In association with
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:
  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.
  • Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.
    If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here
    If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here

    Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

    Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

    Use of www.mondaq.com

    You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). 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 & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


    Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd 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 or performance of information available from this server.

    The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


    Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

    • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
    • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
    • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

    Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

    Information Collection and Use

    We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

    We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

    Mondaq News Alerts

    In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


    A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

    Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

    Log Files

    We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


    This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

    Surveys & Contests

    From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


    If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


    From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

    *** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .


    This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

    Correcting/Updating Personal Information

    If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

    Notification of Changes

    If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

    How to contact Mondaq

    You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

    If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.

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