DIFC Courts sees surge in 2017 cases

Claims and counterclaims at the Small Claims Tribunal were up 75 per cent



The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Courts saw a surge in cases and small claims last year, the organisation said on Monday.

The free zone’s legal system handled 520 cases in total in 2017 compared to 335 in 2016, an increase of just over 55 per cent.

Leading this rise was the Small Claims Tribunal, which saw claims and counterclaims increase 75 per cent to Dhs36.2m ($9.8m) from Dhs20.7m ($5.6m) the previous year.

The tribunal’s settlement rate also rose 10 per cent to 85 per cent as the courts introduced a new mechanism to allow claimants to use direct and instant messaging to give defendants notice.

Read: Dubai’s DIFC Courts to allow defendants to be served through direct messages

Claims at the Court of First Instance also rose 17 per cent to 54 with the settlement rate rising from 83 to 88 per cent. Enforcement claims at the court increased 26 per cent from Dhs2.75bn ($748.6m) to Dhs3.4bn ($925.6m).

“We are mid-way through our five-year strategy and will maintain our rate of progress, channeling our energy and drive for excellence into our ambition to be one of the most service-oriented and connected courts in the world,” said DIFC Courts chief justice Michael Hwang.

“Through ongoing work in 2018, we will continue to provide a more efficient, multi-pronged, and holistic suite of services for dispute resolution.”

The courts launched a specialised technology and construction division for complicated industry cases last year and also secured its first major consultancy contract to advise Kazakhstan’s Central Bank on establishing a commercial court system and arbitration centre in the Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC).

Read: Dubai’s DIFC Courts can now handle complex construction, technology disputes

Read: Interview: Bringing the DIFC’s legal model to the world