Demystifying UAE arbitration law

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By Dr Mark Hoyle

The gulf construction market is one of the most buoyant in the world. While opportunities abound for international investors, when things go wrong construction arbitrations have been known to take several years to resolve, often costing millions.

Despite several advance warnings of a new arbitration law, sometimes rumoured to be based on the UNCITRAL Model Law and sometimes whispered as a mixture of Egyptian law and other derivative procedural clauses, arbitration in the UAE is still based on the Federal Civil Procedure Code, promulgated in 1992. The handful of articles relating to arbitration (mostly on specific procedure and enforcement) do not provide a template for a modern arbitration system.

The UAE (a federation or union of states) has several established arbitral institutions. The most active is the Dubai International Arbitration Centre (DIAC), whose supervisory court is the Arabic language courts by the Creek. Dubai also hosts the LCIA/DIFC centre, whose supervisory court is the court of the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), whose language is English and that applies, broadly, common law. Sharjah also has a flourishing system, mostly based on property and trading disputes, often in Arabic. Abu Dhabi has a well-established system in the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce (ADCCAC), whose supervisory court is that of Abu Dhabi…

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