Saturday, 18 November 2017

Dubai's Courts of the Future Initiative

Author A Vahanvaty
Licence Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic
Source Wikipedia

Jane Lambert

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;
(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."
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).

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:

1 General
2 Specialist division
3 Definitions
4 Rules
5 Joinder
6 Interim Payment
7 Enforcement
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.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

A new Technology and Construction Division for Complex Computer Supply Disputes

© User:Colin / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

Jane Lambert

Sir Richard Field has been appointed to head a new Technology and Construction Division within the Dubai International Financial Centre's Courts (see the DIFC press release Complex tech and construction disputes can now turn to new specialised DIFC Courts division 17 Sep 2017). The new Division appears to have been modelled on the English and Welsh Technology and Construction Court. The Division's procedure is governed by Part 56 of the DIFC Court Rules which is similar to Part 60 of the Civil Procedure Rules and Part 60 Practice Direction.

Rule 56.3 of the DIFC Court Rules provides that a claim may be brought in the Division if it involves issues or questions that are technically complex. A number of sub-paragraphs list examples of such claims which include:
"claims relating to the design, supply and/or installation of computers, computer software and related network and information technology systems and services."
Cases in the new Division will be managed in much the same way as they are managed in the Technology and Construction Court.  Rule 56.15 of the Court Rules provide for a case management conference within 14 days of filing of the particulars of claim or the transfer of a case to the Division.

The above-mentioned press release states that "parties located anywhere in the world are able to opt-in to the DIFC Courts’ jurisdiction, if both parties agree in writing."

Members of the bar of England and Wales with experience of computer supply litigation are well placed to advise on matters that fall within this new Division's jurisdiction and to represent parties in cases that proceed before its judges.  Anyone wishing to discuss this article, computer supply dispute resolution or the DIFC courts in general should call me on +44 (0)20 7404 5252 during UK office hours or send me a message through my contact form.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

British Participation in Dubai FinTech Accelerator Programme

Jane Lambert

The first 12-week accelerator programme of the Dubai FinTech Hive which I mentioned in FinTech in Dubai on 3 Aug started on 21 Aug 2017 with its first cohort. One of the members of that cohort is the Cardiff wealth management solutions provider, Delio Ltd ("Delio").

Delio was founded by Gareth Lewis and David Newman with the mission of building "!a connected, multi-asset class private market that enhances liquidity and access for today's high net worth investor" (see the About page on the Delio website). Its first product is "a complete white label platform solution for private assets, that helps organisations and their advisors enhance their offering through connecting private deal flow with high net worth capital."

The other members of the first cohort are Bridg and Sarwa from the United Arab Emirates, Labiba of Jordan, Maliyya of Azerbaijan, Middleware, Semantify and Starling Trust of the USA, Norbloc of Sweden, Theme Chain of India and Weinvest of Singapore (see FinTech Hive at DIFC commences Inaugural Accelerator Programme 21 Aug 2017). I wish Delio and all those companies every success in the programme and, in particular, on the Investor Day in November.

A British contribution will also come from Clyde & Co and Simmons & Simmons "who will offer advice on how to navigate the region’s legal landscape."

Delio and the other companies will find more legal resources on fintech on my FinTech page. They will also see that I cover IP and related matters in the GCC countries in NIPC Gulf. I have also started to blog about IP in the Severn estuary conurbation where Delio is based in NIPC Severn-Hafren (see Why NIPC Severn-Hafren 6 Aug 2017).

Anyone wishing to discuss this article or the legal issues of fintech generally should call me on +44 (0)20 7404 5252 during UK business hours or send me a message through my contact form.

See also 
Jane Lambert  FinTech in Dubai 3 Aug 2917

Thursday, 3 August 2017

FinTech in Dubai

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Jane Lambert

On 10 Jan 2017, the Dubai International Financial Centre ("DIFC") launched the FinTech Hive which claims to be the first fintech accelerator in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia ("MEASA") region (see the DIFC press release "Dubai International Financial Centre Launches ‘FinTech Hive at DIFC’, the Region’s First FinTech Accelerator, Supported by Accenture" 10 Jan 2017). An "accelerator" is a development space for innovative young companies. According to the UK's National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts" an accelerator has the following characteristics:
  • "Fixed duration programme (usually between three and twelve months) 
  • Typically growth-based (payment via equity rather than fees) 
  • Often provide seed funding 
  • Focus on services over physical space
  • Admission in cohorts 
  • Provision of startup services (e.g. mentorship, entrepreneurial training) 
  • Highly selective"
(see Business Incubators and Accelerators: The National Picture BEIS research paper No 7 by Jonathan Bone and others at page 13).

According to the Hive's website, it offers a 12-week accelerator programme where entrepreneurs have an opportunity to test and develop their innovation in collaboration with senior executives from financial institutions. On that programme they are promised:
  • "Mentoring from the industry’s leading firms and senior financial services executives
  • Insider knowledge and direct feedback from their target user groups
  • Workshops and panel discussions on topics such as procurement, regulation and industry trends,
  • Opportunities to raise their profile amongst potential partners and investors, and
  • A workspace in DIFC for two employees throughout the programme."
In its press release of 30 May 2017, the DIFC reported that the Hive had received over 100 applications from more than 32 countries including the UAE, UK, US, India, Nigeria and Singapore covering big data and analytics, the blockchain, payments, peer to peer and crowdfunding, roboadvisors, and mobility. You can view one of the applications here.

As I said in my introduction to FinTech, it gives rise to at least three sets of legal issues:
  • Privacy and data protecton;
  • Intellectual property; and
  • Regulation.
The DIFC has its own local laws based on the English common law which includes a data protection law which I discussed in DIFC Data Protection Law 1 Aug 2011. As for regulation, Neil Ainger, fintech correspondent at, has reported that the Dubai Financial Services Authority has created a regulatory sandbox ratjer like the Financial Conduct's Authority's in London (see Dubai fintechs invited to play in regulated innovation sandbox 25 May 2017 CNBC) and it has just announced a new regulaory framework for crowdfunding (see Dubai's DFSA launches crowdfunding framework 1 Aug 2017 Finextra).

You can follow the DIFC FinTech Hive on twitter, Facebook and Linkedin. Should you require more information about the FinTechn hive or fintech in general feel free to call me on +44 (0)20 7404 5252 or send me a message through my contact form.

Further Reading

03 Aug 2017
Jane Lambert
03 Aug 2017
Jane Lambert

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

How will the Blockade of Qatar affect IP Law in the GCC Countries?

Jane Lambert

Severing diplomatic relations, expelling a state's nationals, closing a land border and airspace are steps that fall only a little way short of war. It is remarkable that those steps have been taken by two of the parties to the Gulf Cooperation Council ("the GCC") against a third since the GCC had achieved a high degree of political and economic integration.

One aspect of that integration is the GCC patent which is actually a unitary patent for the member states of the GCC - something that the member states of the European Union have yet to achieve. GCC patents are issued by the GCC Patent Office which I discussed in Patents: Gulf Cooperation Council on 21 Jan 2011. A subtitled video on YouTube explains how the Office works.  According to its website, the GCC Patent Office has granted 5,721 patents as of today. That may not be a huge number when compared to the output of the Chinese, Japanese, US, Korean or European intellectual property offices, but the GCC Patent Office's business would have been expected to grow as all the GCC countries were developing industries and technologies for when the oil runs out.  As the Office is located in Saudi Arabia, it is hard to see how Qatar can continue to participate in it unless the order expelling Qatari nationals from Saudi Arabia is rescinded.

Other types of IP law will be less affected. Trade mark law had been harmonized in the GCC states by a GCC Trade Marks Law but there was no such thing as a GCC trade mark (see Saba Al Sultani and another GCC Trademark Law Coming Soon Sept 2014 WIPO Magazine).  Similarly, there was no GCC system of design registration and no single GCC copyright.

It is to be hoped that the differences between the Qatari government and the governments of its neighbours can be resolved and that the blockade can be lifted soon, but, even if it is, the actions taken by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates may well have done lasting damage to the GCC. It will not be lost even upon the states that participated in the blockade that the GCC is not a union of states of equal size. Saudi Arabia has a population of 33 million compared to Bahrain's 1.4 million, Kuwait's 4.3 million, Oman's 4.6 million, Qatar's 2.4 million and even the UAE's 5.8 million. The pressure that has been exerted upon Qatar on this occasion could easily be brought to bear on any of the other states in a future dispute.

Consequently, any business exporting to, importing from, investing, or seeking investment in any of the GCC states would be wise to plan for a future that may not include the GCC in its current form. The IP issues that would arise in such a future would be very similar to those that have sprung up in the UK as a result of Brexit. Exporters to, and investors in, any of the GCC states should ensure that their brands, technology and other intellectual assets are protected by national as well as GCC law. Their contracts should take account of the possibility of further blockades and insert effective force majeure provisions. Wherever possible contracts should be construed and enforced in accordance with English law. Where that is not possible, the laws of the Abu Dhabi Global Market, Dubai International Financial Centre or the Qatar Financial Centre which are modelled on English law and enforced by English speaking, common law courts should be considered.

Should any reader wish to discuss this article or IP law in the Gulf in general he or she should call me during British office hours on +44 (0)20 7404 5252 or send me a message through my contact form.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Dubai Forum for the Settlement of Computer Supply Disputes

Jane Lambert

A consultation on adding a new Part 56 to the Rules of the Dubai International Financial Centre Courts will close at 17:00 Dubai time tomorrow. The new rules would establish a new specialist division of the DIFC Courts to be known as the Technology and Construction Division ("TCD").

The TCD would resolve TCD claims which will include
"claims relating to the design, supply and/or installation of computers, computer software and related network systems."
Such claims may become more frequent as the Dubai International Financial Centre aspires to develop a financial technology industry (see the press release Dubai International Financial Centre Calls on Applicants for FinTech Hive at DIFC 16 April 2017).

The TCD appears to have been modelled on the Technology and Construction Court ("TCC") of England and Wales and the proposed Part 56 incorporated some of the provisions of Part 60 of the Civil Procedure Rules and the Part 60 Practice Direction. If the proposal is approved the TCD would handle much the same business as the TCC which includes all kinds of business and engineering disputes and challenges to arbitrators' decisions as well as computer supply disputes.

Should anyone wish to discuss this article or the computer supply disputes generally, he or she should call me on +44 (0)20 7404 5252 during office hours or send me a message through my contact form.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

DIFC Small Claims Tribunal

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Jane Lambert

The Dubai International Financial Centre ("DIFC") has its own legislation modelled on United Kingdom statutes or codifications of principles of English common law. Those laws are administered by special English speaking courts known as the DIFC Courts. I discussed the jurisdiction in DIFC Courts 7 Jan 2011 JD Supra.

The DIFC courts consist of a Court of Appeal, Court of First Instance and a Small Claims Tribunal ("SCT"). The jurisdiction of the SCT has been extended by the DIFC Courts Rules of Court Order No. 1 of 2015 In Respect of the Jurisdiction of the Small Claims Tribunal of the DIFC Courts. Part 53.2 of the Rules of the DIFC Courts ("RDC") provides that:
"The SCT will hear and determine claims within the jurisdiction of the DIFC Courts:
(1) where the amount of the claim or the value of the subject matter of the claim does not exceed AED 500,000 or;
(2) where the claim relates to the employment or former employment of a party; and
all parties elect in writing that it be heard by the SCT (there is no value limit for the SCT’s elective jurisdiction in the context of employment claims); or
(3) which do not fall within the provisions of sub-paragraphs (1) or (2) above, but in respect of which:
(a) the amount of the claim or the value of the subject matter of the claim does not exceed AED 1,000,000; and
(b) all parties to the claim elect in writing that it be heard by the SCT, and such election is made in the underlying contract (if any) or subsequent to execution of that contract; or
(4) such other claims as may be ordered or directed by the Chief Justice to be heard by the SCT from time to time."
Although it is called a small claims court, the SCT's financial limits are quite high. There are approximately AED 4.71 to the pound at current rates of exchange so AED 500,000 equates to £106,180.50 and AED 1 million to £212,383.89.

The procedure is set out in Part 53 of the RDC which appears to have been modelled on Part 27 of the English Civil Procedure Rules. There is also a useful guide to the procedure entitled Small Claims Tribunal. Unless the judge orders otherwise neither party can be legally represented and recoverable costs are limited to such part of the issue fees as the court considers reasonable unless a party has acted unreasonably.

Most cases before the SMT are resolved very quickly. A defendant has only 7 days in which to file a defence and a consultation in which the court seeks to resolve the dispute without a trial is ordered to take place as soon as possible thereafter. Many cases are settled at the consultation which enables the SCT to resolve most disputes within a month of the issue of the claim form. The SCT has power to grant any final order that could have been granted by the Court of First Instance including a final injunction. Judgments of the SCT can be found on the DIFC Courts website,

Should anyone wish to discuss this article or the DIFC courts generally, he or she should call me on +44 (0)20 7404 5252 during office hours or send me a message through my contact form.