|Author A Vahanvaty|
Licence Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic
The Dubai Future Foundation is an initiative of the Dubai government to chart the economic, social and cultural future of Dubai. Its initiatives include artificial intelligence and robotics, autonomous transportation, blockchain technology, three-dimensional printing and pilotless aircraft. Each of those technologies is likely to lead to legal issues which are mentioned briefly in the topics section of the Courts of the Future website.
Those issues will have to be resolved in Dubai as they will in the rest of the world and the body that seeks to address those issues in Dubai is the Courts of the Future Forum. This is a panel of 13 lawyers and other experts from around the world including two members of the English bar and partners of Bird & Bird. The acting chief executive and chief operating officer of the Dubai Future Foundation also sit on that panel as does the co-chief executive and registrar-general of the Dubai International Financial Centre Courts (an English speaking common law jurisdiction in the Dubai International Financial Centre which I first discussed in DIFC Courts 7 Jan 2011 J D Supra).
The terms of reference of the Courts of the Future Forum are set out in its charter. Art 1.2 of that charter provides that the purpose of the forum is to advise the courts about:
"(a) the current performance and reputation of the Courts as perceived by the Forum members in relation to handling of the disputes of the future;While its recommendations will be addressed to the DIFC courts, they are likely to be relevant to court services everywhere including, in particular, the Business and Property Courts of England and Wales which were the model for the DIFC courts (see Jane Lambert Launch of a Judicial Super Highway? 12 July 2017 IP Northwest).
(b) the strategic direction required for the Courts to maintain and improve their knowledge, performance and reputation regarding future IP, construction, technology and other related disputes;
(c) developments and trends in the arena of international dispute resolution which may have an impact on the DIFC Courts and its operation and which, if adopted, might benefit the DIFC Courts and its users in resolving disputes of the future."
The forum has drafted a model Part 40,000 for the DIFC Court Rules which are based on our Civil Procedure Rules. A footnote explains that the number 40,000 was chosen for the Part because:
"40,000 km/h is the speed at which an object must travel in order to break free of a planet’s gravitational pull."An introductory paragraph states:
"The founding principles for the Courts of the Future are explained here through an imagined set of rules for processing claims in a new specialist division of a court. This division would be designed to support companies developing new technologies, sectors and applications – from blockchain to 3d printing. The rules include details of how the court itself could use these technologies, for example there is an artificial intelligence for adjudicating small claims. It is the kind of division that this Forum aims to create."Rule 1 of that Part declares that it applies to Court of the Future claims ("COF claims"). Rule 3 provides:
"A claim may be issued as a COF Claim if it:
(a) involves issues or questions of technical complexity, or
(b) has no or no single physical geographical nexus, or
(c) the proceedings are likely to involve multiple parties from different jurisdictions.
The following are examples of the types of claim which may be appropriate to bring as COF Claims, but are not exhaustive and other types of claim may be appropriate to this specialist division:
(1) claims involving international commercial chain transactions;
(2) claims relating to liability for the acts or omissions of artificial intelligence, software or any devices or components of devices whether integrated or not that are dependent on or controlled by such software including, but not limited to autonomous or semi-autonomous vehicles;, medical devices and types of industrial and domestic equipment;
(3) claims involving issues of cyber security in respect of data and/or assets stored online;
(4) claims relating to competition and/or anti-trust issues in respect of online assets or currency;
(5) claims involving online intermediaries and/or online platforms or marketplaces;
(6) claims relating to online peer to peer transactions;
(7) claims relating to online blockchain transactions;
(8) claims relating to 3D printing;
(9) claims relating to or arising out of extraterrestrial activity or territories;
(10) intellectual property claims arising out of or in relation to any of the above claims;
(11) any combination of the above claims;
(12) insurance claims in relation to any of the above claims; and
(13) challenges to decisions of arbitrators in COF disputes."The Part has 12 rules as follows:
2 Specialist division
6 Interim Payment
8 Record Keeping
9 Processing of personal data
10 Data confidentiality and security
11 COF Practice Direction
12 Micro Disputes Practice Direction
The rules on enforcement and micro disputes are particularly interesting. Litigants will be required to give details of their blockchain accounts and judgments will be enforced instantaneously via smart contracts. Micro disputes (that is to say those under US$50,000 where there is no dispute of fact and neither party is a corporation will be determined by computer.
All thought-provoking stuff which will interest judges. lawyers. court administrators and business people everywhere. Should anyone want to discuss this article, he or she should call me on +44 (0)20 7404 5252 during normal business hours or send me a message through my contact form.