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

The Technology and Construction Division features specialist judges and a new set of industry-specific rules

Technology and construction companies can now approach the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Courts for complex commercial disputes.

A specialised division – Technology and Construction Division (TCD)- has been launched to handle such cases.

TCD features specialist judges and a new set of industry-specific rules to fast-track dispute resolution.

The Division will only hear technically complex cases, a statement said.

Examples in the construction sector might include complicated engineering disputes or claims arising out of fires.

Technology-related cases could include liability for cybercrime incidents, disputes over the ownership and use of data, and issues relating to emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence or connected cars.

Parties located anywhere in the world can opt-in to the DIFC Courts’ jurisdiction, if both parties agree in writing.

Requests to have claims heard by the TCD will have to be made as part of the initial filing, with the Courts’ decision based on the written evidence provided.

The TDC will be headed by Justice Sir Richard Field, who previously worked at the London courts. A British national, he joined the DIFC Courts in 2015 following his tenure as Judge in Charge of the Commercial Court in London.

DIFC Courts chief justice Michael Hwang said: “The TCD has been designed around the particular characteristics of highly complex technology and construction disputes, which can be resolved much more speedily and efficiently with the oversight of specialist judicial expertise.”

The launch of TCD comes even as the DIFC Courts has implemented a new web-based case management system. The new system enables users to access case management information from their mobile phones, tablets and other electronic devices in real time.

Features include the ability to upload heavy bundles of documents, an electronic, Small Claims Tribunal (SCT) section, integration with Emirates Identity Authority enabling verification of court users through their Emirates ID, and an interactive case plan that is automatically updated when documents are filed.

Last month, the English-language Courts announced an increase 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 (SCT) recorded a 90 per cent increase in its case load during H1 2017 to reach 150.