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

The Small Claims Tribunal is expanding its e-services



Dubai’s DIFC Courts Small Claims Tribunal (SCT) will now offer claimants direct and instant messaging to give defendants notice as part of an expanded range of e-services.

Until now, all defendants first receive SCT claim forms via email, then in person, or through courier, or at the last known address if they do not reply.

Under the new rules, if the defendant is still unresponsive, the claimant can use direct and instant messaging to serve the claim, a statement said.

“To preserve privacy and prevent misuse, the communication must be direct and the claimant must formally request permission from the SCT before going ahead,” it added.

The new service is also hoped to support defendants, by alerting them through a different channel that a claim has been filed against them.

The existing rules state that when defendants do not respond or are evasive, the SCT will automatically issue a default judgement.

Nassir Al Nasser, SCT judge and registrar, said: “Small Claims Tribunal cases often involve individuals and small businesses, as well as a mobile expatriate population, and it is sometimes difficult to physically locate the other party and serve court documents.

“Allowing service by instant messaging has the potential to help both claimants and defendants, speeding up resolution of disputes.”

The English-language DIFC Courts has been seeing an increasing number of cases and recently announced an rise in the volume and value of cases it handled during the first half of the year.

The workload of the main Court of First Instance (CFI), including arbitration-related cases and counter claims, rose by 57 per cent from the first half of 2016. The total value of cases in the same period increased to Dhs7.5bn, a 118 per cent year-on-year increase.

Meanwhile, the Small Claims Tribunal recorded a 90 per cent increase in its case load during H1 2017 to reach 150.

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