United Arab Emirates

middle east

Key points
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) does not currently have an arbitration law; arbitration proceedings fall under the UAE’s Civil Procedure Law (CPL). However, at the time of publication, the UAE Ministry of Economy had announced that an independent arbitration law based on the UNCITRAL model law would be passed at some point in 2008. Arbitration proceedings in the UAE are usually carried out within the individual Emirates through their chambers of commerce and industry (although parties may, if they wish, elect for their dispute to be heard by another institution or ad hoc). The Abu Dhabi Commercial Conciliation and Arbitration Centre and the Dubai International Arbitration Centre (DIAC) have emerged as the leading institutions within this chamber of commerce system. Under the CPL, if one party commences proceedings in the courts of the UAE and the other party does not object to the court proceedings at the first hearing, then any alternative arbitration agreement that may have existed between the parties is deemed cancelled. It is likely that the proposed UAE arbitration law will allow arbitration proceedings to continue to an award while the question of the courts’ jurisdiction is determined. Currently, the ability of tribunals to issue interim measures depends on the arbitration rules adopted by the parties. If there is no agreement between the parties to give such powers to the arbitrator, a separate action for interim relief through the courts is required. The proposed UAE arbitration law is likely to provide the tribunal with powers to grant interim measures, unless the parties have agreed otherwise.

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Under the rules of the DIAC. The DIFC rules allow tribunals to grant interim and protective measures. Confidentiality The CPL contains no provisions relating to confidentiality. The DIFC has established an arbitration institution in conjunction with the London Court of International Arbitration. Arbitral awards rendered under the DIFC Arbitration Law and ratified by the DIFC court are automatically enforceable in Dubai without any power of review by the Dubai courts. Dubai International Financial Centre The Dubai International Financial Centre (established in 2004) has its own jurisdiction and a stand-alone arbitration law (the DIFC Arbitration Law). in Arabic. and awards made. unless the parties have agreed beforehand to conduct arbitrations in English. The UAE acceded to the New York Convention on 21 August 2006.united arab emirates While at present arbitration awards need to be ratified by the courts. Norton Rose Group Arbitration in the Middle East July 2008 United Arab Emirates 3 . all information provided by the parties requesting conciliation or arbitration is considered confidential and may not be divulged except with the consent of the parties or pursuant to an order of a competent judicial authority. Both the DIFC Arbitration Law and the proposed UAE arbitration law provide for proceedings and awards to be kept confidential. The supervisory role is quite limited under the DIFC Arbitration Law. the intention is for the proposed UAE arbitration law to give effect to the UAE’s obligations under the New York Convention. Tribunals are usually heard.

the venue for proceedings (the DIAC). by one or more arbitrators appointed in compliance with the Rules. shall be settled by arbitration in accordance with the provisions set forth under the DIAC Arbitration Rules (the Rules). interpretation. and the language of proceedings. termination or invalidation of this contract or arising therefrom or related thereto in any manner whatsoever. Dubai International Arbitration Centre (DIAC) The DIAC also advises parties to include in their contractual agreements details of the number of arbitrators (or the authority of the DIAC to determine the number). nullification. performance. the place of arbitration (Dubai). implementation or termination of the agreement/contract herein shall have to be conclusively settled via arbitration in accordance with the provisions on arbitration provided in the Abu Dhabi Commercial Conciliation and Arbitration Centre’s Procedural Regulations and through an arbitration board comprising arbitrator(s). Abu Dhabi Commercial Conciliation and Arbitration Centre (ADCCAC) or Any dispute arising out of the formation. who shall be nominated and summoned up in accordance with the rules and procedures provided in the Centre’s Procedural Regulations.middle east Model arbitration clauses All disputes arising from the interpretation. See the Arbitration section for best practice in drafting arbitration clauses. 4 United Arab Emirates July 2008 Arbitration in the Middle East Norton Rose Group .

diac.difcarbitration.org DIFC LCIA Arbitration Centre Norton Rose Group Arbitration in the Middle East July 2008 United Arab Emirates 5 .adcci.united arab emirates Weblinks www.gov.ae Dubai International Arbitration Centre www.ae Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry www.

2 Is there an Arbitration Act governing arbitration proceedings. 6 United Arab Emirates July 2008 Arbitration in the Middle East Norton Rose Group . which therefore fall under the general rules of the UAE Civil Procedure Law. Dubai International Financial Centre The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) has its own rules and its own jurisdiction. and is it based on the UNCITRAL model law? There is currently no legislation in the UAE governing arbitration proceedings. The two main bodies are the Abu Dhabi Commercial Conciliation and Arbitration Centre (ADCCAC) and the Dubai International Arbitration Centre (DIAC). the UAE Ministry of Economy had announced that an independent arbitration law. would be enacted in the UAE during 2008. based on the UNCITRAL model law. established by the chambers of commerce and industry of Abu Dhabi and Dubai respectively. following the UAE’s ratification of the New York Convention. These provisions are not based on the UNCITRAL model law. At the time of going to press. Federal Law 11 of 1992 (the CPL). Provisions on arbitral procedure and enforcement are set out in chapters 3.middle east 1 What arbitration bodies are there within the jurisdiction? Arbitration proceedings in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are usually carried out by the individual Emirates through their chambers of commerce and industry. In February 2008 the DIFC launched the DIFC LCIA Arbitration Centre as a joint venture with the London Court of International Arbitration. 4 and 5 of the CPL. separate from the UAE. which will allow parties access to the LCIA’s extensive database of arbitrators.

Norton Rose Group Arbitration in the Middle East July 2008 United Arab Emirates 7 . Courts are also empowered to hear preliminary issues that are outside the scope of the arbitration. However. or if any of the grounds for disqualification of judges apply. whether domestic (DIAC. The courts have jurisdiction to appoint an arbitrator where there is no mechanism for doing so in the arbitration agreement. regional (Gulf Cooperation Council Commercial Arbitration Centre) or international. the new DIFC arbitration law (the DIFC Arbitration Law) is based on the UNCITRAL model law. the parties are free to specify the rules for the proceedings.united arab emirates Dubai International Financial Centre The DIFC has already enacted revised arbitration legislation. the DIFC Arbitration Law does not require any connection with the jurisdiction in order for the parties to adopt the DIFC as the seat of their arbitral proceedings. At the request of one or other of the parties. the courts may dismiss an arbitrator if he has not acted in accordance with his terms of reference. to extend the time for the arbitration. These may include the rules of any arbitration institution. to compel or fine witnesses. 3 What are the available rules? Under both the CPL and the proposed UAE arbitration law. As with the previous legislation. provided the arbitration agreement is in writing and forms part of the basic contract or an attached agreement. 4 What supervision is there of arbitrators and their awards? The CPL provides for a number of situations in which the courts retain a supervisory role over arbitral tribunals. which repeals and replaces the 2004 arbitration law. on the application of one or other of the parties. and to approve and enforce awards. ADCCAC or DIFC LCIA). unlike the previous law.

These include certain powers in relation to the appointment and dismissal of arbitrators.middle east In a domestic arbitration. The DIFC court may also. If it fails to do so. The CPL also allows the courts to nullify arbitral awards in certain circumstances. Dubai International Financial Centre The DIFC court’s supervisory powers are set out in the DIFC Arbitration Law. which may be exercised at the request of a party. fulfil an oversight 8 United Arab Emirates July 2008 Arbitration in the Middle East Norton Rose Group . it is deemed to have waived its right to have the matter referred to arbitration and the court will assume jurisdiction of the matter. The CPL provides that no award will be enforced unless it has been approved by the competent courts. correct any material errors in the award. and it also has the ability to fulfil an oversight function in relation to certain decisions made by the arbitral tribunal. at the request of either party. at the request of a party. Under the UAE arbitration law. and a party nevertheless commences court proceedings. the other party must at the first hearing bring to the court’s attention the existence of the arbitration agreement. the tribunal may request the assistance of the court to enforce its directions. It has powers in relation to the appointment and dismissal of arbitrators. which must conduct a review of the award and the tribunal’s terms of reference to ensure that there is no encumbrance on enforcement. The tribunal (or a party with the approval of the tribunal) may request the court’s assistance in taking evidence. the UAE courts are likely to play a supervisory role similar in scope to that envisaged in the UNCITRAL model law. The court may also. Where a valid arbitration agreement is in place. such as decisions on its own jurisdiction or decisions to order interim measures. which may be exercised at the request of a party.

Norton Rose Group Arbitration in the Middle East July 2008 United Arab Emirates 9 . 5 How quickly can a tribunal be set up? The speed with which a tribunal can be established depends on the rules of arbitration chosen by the parties. While the parties are free under the DIFC Arbitration Law to decide on the choice of language. such as decisions on its own jurisdiction or decisions to order interim measures. either party can pursue its claim through the courts.united arab emirates function in relation to certain decisions made by the arbitral tribunal. The tribunal (or a party with the approval of the tribunal) may request the DIFC court’s assistance in taking evidence.) The arbitrator may extend the arbitration period (by mutual agreement of the parties) or the courts may do so at the request of the arbitrator or one of the parties. In the absence of express agreement between the parties. (The CPL allows parties to “contract out” of the mandatory time periods at the outset and not just by application to the tribunal once proceedings have started. and allows the parties to determine the procedure for appointing the arbitrators. otherwise. The proposed UAE arbitration law draft does not set out any time limits for the establishment of the tribunal. The rules of the DIAC allow the arbitrators to extend the time for arbitration for an additional period. the CPL specifies that arbitral awards must be delivered within six months from the date of the first hearing. for the purposes of enforcing an award within the DIFC the DIFC court may request a certified English translation of the arbitration agreement or award.

6 What happens if one party refuses to participate in the process? Under the CPL. If either party fails to attend at a later hearing or to produce evidence as required. if the defendant fails to communicate its defence in the requisite manner. There are no fixed time constraints. however. the tribunal may continue the proceedings and make an award based on the evidence before it. 10 United Arab Emirates July 2008 Arbitration in the Middle East Norton Rose Group . having been properly notified. Dubai International Financial Centre If the claimant fails to communicate its statement of claim within the time period agreed by the parties or fixed by the tribunal. If either party fails to attend at a later hearing or to produce evidence as required. the tribunal will continue the proceedings without treating the default as an admission of the claimant’s allegations. if the claimant fails to communicate its statement of claim within the time period agreed by the parties or fixed by the tribunal. the speed with which a tribunal can be set up depends on the rules of arbitration chosen by the parties. and must fix a date for the submission of documents to the tribunal. then the proceedings are terminated. the tribunal may proceed with the arbitration in that party’s absence. then the proceedings are terminated. If a party. the tribunal may continue the proceedings and make an award based on the evidence before it. arbitrators are required to notify the parties of the date of the first hearing within 30 days of their appointment. the tribunal will continue the proceedings without treating the default as an admission of the claimant’s allegations.middle east Dubai International Financial Centre Under the DIFC Arbitration Law. however. if the defendant fails to communicate its defence in the requisite manner. The draft UAE arbitration law provides that. fails to appear before the tribunal.

or measures restraining or requiring certain conduct of a party. This can raise certain procedural issues. Norton Rose Group Arbitration in the Middle East July 2008 United Arab Emirates 11 . The tribunal may require a party to provide appropriate security in connection with such measures. Dubai International Financial Centre Tribunals conducted under the DIFC Arbitration Law are empowered to issue interim measures unless the parties have agreed otherwise in writing. If the tribunal does not have jurisdiction to grant interim measures. measures restraining or requiring certain conduct of a party or measures to preserve evidence that may be relevant or material to the dispute. measures providing security or preliminary means of enforcement.united arab emirates 7 What interim measures are available? Under the CPL. It is unclear whether the commencement of arbitration proceedings is considered to be the same as the submission of a case in court. the parties may seek such relief directly from the courts. arbitrators do not automatically have jurisdiction over interim or preliminary measures and must be granted such jurisdiction in the arbitration agreement. The tribunal may require a party to provide appropriate security in connection with such measures. as interim relief can only be granted when a substantive case is placed before the courts within eight days of the request for an interim award. even if the matter is heard as part of an arbitration hearing. including measures to maintain or restore the status quo pending the outcome of the proceedings. The draft UAE arbitration law looks set to empower tribunals to issue interim and protective measures. Such measures may include measures to maintain or restore the status quo pending the outcome of the proceedings. measures providing security or preliminary means of enforcement.

middle east 8 What right is there to challenge the appointment of an arbitrator? Current UAE law There are two provisions for challenging the appointment of an arbitrator under the CPL. Proposed UAE law The proposed UAE arbitration law. If it can be established that an arbitrator has failed to conform to the terms of the agreement to arbitrate. Grounds for challenge to the appointment of an arbitrator arise where there exist justifiable doubts as to the impartiality or independence of an arbitrator. A party may only challenge an arbitrator appointed by him (or in whose appointment he has participated) where he becomes aware of these circumstances after the appointment has been made. requires that any person approached in connection with his possible appointment as an arbitrator must disclose to each of the parties any circumstances likely to give rise to justifiable doubts as to his impartiality or independence. either party can raise an objection to that arbitrator with the competent court (article 207(3) of the CPL). or if he does not possess the qualifications agreed between the parties. The draft UAE arbitration law provides some detail on the circumstances in which doubts will be “justifiable”. An arbitrator can be dismissed on any of the grounds on which a judge may be disqualified or deemed unfit for passing judgment. 12 United Arab Emirates July 2008 Arbitration in the Middle East Norton Rose Group . The request for dismissal must be filed with the competent court within five days of the parties being notified of the arbitrator’s appointment (article 207(4)). Such duty of disclosure continues throughout the course of the proceedings. as currently drafted.

on the application of either of the parties. A party may only challenge an arbitrator appointed by him (or in whose appointment he has participated) where he becomes aware of these circumstances after the appointment has been made. Norton Rose Group Arbitration in the Middle East July 2008 United Arab Emirates 13 . are there any time limits to be aware of or unusual provisions? Current UAE law Although an arbitral award cannot be appealed under the CPL.united arab emirates Dubai International Financial Centre The DIFC Arbitration Law requires that any person approached in connection with his possible appointment as an arbitrator must disclose any circumstances likely to give rise to justifiable doubts as to his impartiality or independence. Such duty of disclosure continues throughout the course of the proceedings. if so. or in excess of the tribunal’s powers. or if he does not possess the qualifications agreed between the parties. • The award or the proceedings become void for any reason that affects the validity of the award. an award may be set aside. 9 Can a party appeal the arbitrator’s decision and. if the court decides that one of the following applies: • The award was issued based on invalid or expired terms of reference. Grounds for challenge to the appointment of an arbitrator arise where there exist justifiable doubts as to the impartiality or independence of an arbitrator. • The arbitrators where not correctly appointed in accordance with the CPL or were not authorised to act or to issue the award.

14 United Arab Emirates July 2008 Arbitration in the Middle East Norton Rose Group . Referral or correction in this way does not amount to a total invalidation of the award. An arbitral award may be set aside if the party making the application establishes one of the following grounds: • A party to the agreement was under some incapacity or the agreement was otherwise invalid under the relevant law. At the request of one of the parties. • The party making the application was not given proper notice of the appointment of an arbitrator or of the proceedings themselves or was otherwise unable to present its case. Proposed UAE law Under the draft UAE arbitration law the sole recourse against an award lies in an application to have the award set aside. the court may refer the award back to the tribunal to reconsider any issues which they have omitted to consider or correct any material errors in the award.middle east The decision of the court with regard to validity of the arbitral award can be appealed. unless the parties have waived their right to do so. Any application must be made within three months from the date the party making the application received the award unless the parties agree to extend this period. If possible. • The award deals with a dispute that falls outside the terms of the arbitration agreement. • The composition of the tribunal or the arbitral procedure did not accord with the agreement between the parties or with the relevant law. only the parts of the award which deal with a dispute which falls outside the terms of the agreement will be set aside.

only the parts of the award which exceed (or deal with a dispute which falls outside) the terms of the agreement shall be set aside. • The award itself goes beyond (or deals with a dispute that falls outside) the terms of the arbitration agreement – provided that. if possible. unless the parties have agreed to a longer period. • The award is in conflict with the public policy of the UAE. Any application must be made within three months from the date the party making the application received the award. Dubai International Financial Centre Under the DIFC Arbitration Law the parties’ sole recourse against an arbitral award lies in an application to have the award set aside by the DIFC court.united arab emirates Equally. An arbitral award may be set aside if the party making the application establishes one of the following grounds: • A party to the agreement was under some incapacity or the agreement was otherwise invalid under the relevant law. an arbitral award may be set aside if the court finds that one of the following grounds applies: • The subject matter of the dispute is not capable of settlement by arbitration under UAE law. Norton Rose Group Arbitration in the Middle East July 2008 United Arab Emirates 15 . • The party making the application was not given proper notice of the appointment of an arbitrator or of the proceedings themselves or was otherwise unable to present its case.

Equally. the DIFC Arbitration Law makes it clear that the DIFC Court will comply with the terms of any treaty for the mutual enforcement of arbitral awards to which the UAE is party. This came into force on 19 November 2006. if so. what is the procedure? Current UAE law Arbitral awards must be approved by the courts before they become enforceable. • The dispute is referred to a different body or tribunal for resolution under the DIFC Arbitration Law or any mandatory provision of DIFC law. 10 Is either the UAE or the DIFC a party to the New York Convention? Yes: the UAE acceded to the New York Convention on 21 August 2006. an arbitral award may be set aside if the DIFC court finds that one of the following grounds applies: • The subject matter of the dispute is not capable of settlement by arbitration under DIFC law. • The award is in conflict with the public policy of the UAE. 11 Will an arbitration award be enforceable in the UAE and. 16 United Arab Emirates July 2008 Arbitration in the Middle East Norton Rose Group .middle east • The composition of the tribunal or the arbitral procedure did not accord with the agreement between the parties or with the relevant law. Dubai International Financial Centre While the DIFC cannot be a party to the New York Convention (because it is not a country).

Proposed UAE law The proposed UAE arbitration law seeks to give effect to the UAE’s obligations under the New York Convention. Norton Rose Group Arbitration in the Middle East July 2008 United Arab Emirates 17 . The UAE has signed the New York Convention. there are certain procedural requirements for enforcement. The CPL sets out a two-stage test for the enforcement of foreign awards in the UAE. so there will be reciprocity with any other signatory state. and accordingly provides only limited grounds on which enforcement may be refused. the arbitrator must deliver a copy of the award to all relevant parties within five days from the date of the award. The award must then be ratified by the courts for it to have the force of a court judgment and to be enforceable. there must be reciprocity of enforcement between the UAE and the jurisdiction in which the award was rendered.united arab emirates For domestic awards. The courts in the UAE must verify that: • the UAE courts did not have jurisdiction to hear the dispute • the arbitral tribunal did have such jurisdiction • the parties were correctly summoned to appear before the tribunal • the award has acquired the force of law under the rules of the tribunal that rendered it • the award does not conflict with any judgment previously issued by the courts of the UAE or with public morals or order in the UAE. Secondly. First.

18 United Arab Emirates July 2008 Arbitration in the Middle East Norton Rose Group .middle east These grounds are: • A party to the arbitration agreement was under some incapacity or the agreement was otherwise invalid under the relevant law. the parts of the award which do not exceed (or deal with a dispute which falls outside) the terms of the agreement will be enforceable. • The award itself goes beyond (or deals with a dispute that falls outside) the terms of the arbitration agreement. • The party against whom enforcement is sought was not given proper notice of the appointment of an arbitrator or of the proceedings themselves. • The award has yet to become binding on the parties or an application has been made to the court under the law of which the award was made to set aside or suspend the award. the court can refuse enforcement if it finds one of the following: • The subject matter of the dispute is not capable of settlement by arbitration under UAE law. If possible. • The enforcement of the award would be in conflict with the public policy of the UAE. • The composition of the tribunal or the arbitral procedure did not accord with the agreement between the parties or with the relevant law. Equally. or was otherwise unable to present its case.

The DIFC court may refuse enforcement (on part or all of the award) if the party against whom the award is to be enforced proves to it one of the following: • A party to the arbitration agreement was under some incapacity or the agreement was otherwise invalid under the relevant law. • The award has yet to become binding on the parties or an application has been made to the court under the law of which the award was made to set aside or suspend the award. Norton Rose Group Arbitration in the Middle East July 2008 United Arab Emirates 19 . • The award itself goes beyond (or deals with a dispute that falls outside) the terms of the arbitration agreement. If possible. or was otherwise unable to present its case. the parts of the award which do not exceed (or deal with a dispute which falls outside) the terms of the agreement will be enforceable. • The composition of the tribunal or the arbitral procedure did not accord with the agreement between the parties or with the relevant law. • The party against whom enforcement is sought was not given proper notice of the appointment of an arbitrator or of the proceedings.united arab emirates Dubai International Financial Centre Arbitral awards rendered under the DIFC Arbitration Law and ratified by the DIFC court are automatically enforceable in Dubai without any power of review by the Dubai courts.

Dubai International Financial Centre The DIFC Arbitration Law provides for the tribunal to determine the costs of the proceedings. Under the CPL. giving a greater degree of certainty over costs. by the party against whom the award is issued. The proposed UAE arbitration law looks set to allow the tribunal to provide for the costs of the arbitration in its award. The rules of the DIAC set out the administrative fees and arbitrators’ remuneration based on the disputed amount. and the apportionment of such costs between the parties. 12 What are the likely costs of arbitration? The costs of arbitration in the UAE will depend largely on the rules selected by the parties. the arbitrators determine their own fees and decide whether these should be borne. • The enforcement of the award would be in conflict with the public policy of the UAE. the court can refuse enforcement if it finds one of the following: • The subject matter of the dispute is not capable of settlement by arbitration under UAE law.middle east Equally. The arbitrators’ estimate may be amended by the courts at the request of one of the parties. either entirely or in part. See the Reference section for more details on the DIFC LCIA Arbitration Centre. I 20 United Arab Emirates July 2008 Arbitration in the Middle East Norton Rose Group .