The court system in Dubai’s financial free zone is seeking an agreement with Chinese courts on enforcing its judgements as trading ties between the two economies expand, a senior Dubai court official said on Sunday.
DIFC Courts, which covers the Dubai International Financial Centre, the Middle East’s main banking hub, has sought to strengthen its global clout since last year by signing several deals with foreign courts on mutual enforcement of decisions.
Deals were reached with Australia and Kenya in 2014, and this year with Singapore’s Supreme Court and the U.S. Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York. A Chinese agreement could position Dubai as a centre for handling legal issues surrounding the Middle East’s China business.
The emirate’s trade with China, its biggest trading partner, jumped 29 per cent in 2014 to Dhs175 billion ($47.7 billion), according to Dubai official statistics.
“We need to connect as a court with countries that are most important to our country, and most important to Dubai,” DIFC Courts’ Registrar Mark Beer told a news conference.
He said discussions had begun with court officials in Shanghai but declined to predict when an agreement might be reached. It would flesh out and cover the mechanics of a broad ministry-to-ministry agreement that already exists, he said.
In 2011, Dubai moved to attract more legal business by letting parties around the world agree to refer commercial disputes to the DIFC Courts, even if the cases had nothing to do with the DIFC. To make this option attractive, however, Dubai must show it can have judgements enforced abroad.
Cases totalling Dhs1.76 billion in value were filed with the DIFC Courts last year, up 81 per cent from 2013, the system said in its annual report.
To spur business at its Small Claims Tribunal, the DIFC Courts plans to raise the maximum size of the cases it normally handles, to Dhs1 million from 200,000 for employment issues and to Dhs1 million from 500,000 for other issues.