Question: I have a small company in the UAE and I signed a contract with an international company. The contract states that any dispute that arises from a breach of the contract has to be decided in the court of the country where the international company is based, in the West. However, the contract was signed and executed in the UAE. Is there any way to have the dispute settled in UAE courts?

Answer: Although your contract says disputes should be settled in the country where the other company is based, you still have the right to file a case in the local courts, as jurisdiction of the courts is organised by public order rules in Article 21 of Civil Procedure Laws 11 of 1992 and its amendments. The local courts would have the jurisdiction under Article 21/3 of the same law. Local courts have the jurisdiction to decide disputes filed against expatriates if the contract has been signed or executed in the UAE. As such, you have the right to file the case in local courts because the contract was signed here and because it was executed here. Bear in mind that the same rule would not apply if your contract states that disputes should be referred to arbitration centres outside UAE jurisdiction because, if it did, you would not be able to file your case in a UAE court.

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