I have written extensively about the DIFC Courts in this blog ever since I uploaded my article on the DIFC Courts to the JD Supra site on 7 Jan 2011. These are the English speaking common law courts with judges who have held high judicial office in the UK and other Commonwealth countries which administer the commercial and property laws of the Dubai International Financial Centre. Although the jurisdiction of those courts has recently been extended by the ruler's decree of 31 Oct 2011 which I noted in "DIFC Courts Spread their Wings" 7 Dec 2011, it is important to remember that they are not the courts of the United Arab Emirates or even of the Emirate of Dubai. Dubai, each of the other Emirates and the Federal Government have their own court systems which are quite different.
The Dubai Courts now have an English language website with a schematic diagram on the organization of those courts and information on their work and services many of which are accessible online. The history of those courts is introduced in almost poetic terms:
"The judiciary in Dubai has a beautiful story mixed with fragrance of Arab history that reminds us the stories of earlier judges, such as, Justice Ayyadh Ben Moussa Ben Ayyadh, Justice Abdul Aziz Al Jorjani, Juge Abdel Rahman Bin Qudaamah Al Maqhdussy, whom whenever you mention them you would feel a whiff of breeze carrying aroma of history wherein chastity, piety, Godliness and Personal Affairs knowledge originating from the folds of the Book that has been wore out throughout the ages but did not fade its knowledge, jurisprudence, verses and wisdom."
Though the court system traces its origins to those judges it has developed considerably since the 1970s with the establishment of separate courts of first instance, appeal and cassation. The First Instance Court has general jurisdiction but sits in specialist divisions known respectively as the Civil Court, Commercial Court, Personal Status Court, Criminal Court, Labour Court and Real Estate Court. Appeals from the First Instance Court lie to the Appeals Court and from there to the Court of Cassation. Many of the services of those courts are available online and may be operated through the website.
There appears to be considerable co-operation between the Dubai courts and those of the DIFC as is clear from the DIFC Courts' Activities and Business Plan for 2013 to 2015.
Our chambers will shortly have permanent representation in Dubai through a resident member. In the meantime, I can respond to any enquiries about this article or the DIDC courts generally. You can contact me in London on +44 (0)20 7404 5252 during office hours or through my contact form. You can also follow me on Facebook,Linkedin, twitter or Xing.