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;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.
(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(4) such other claims as may be ordered or directed by the Chief Justice to be heard by the SCT from time to time."
(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
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.