The Emirate of Dubai has through Decree no. 34 of 2021 (the “Decree”), made major changes to the functioning of the Dubai International Arbitration Centre (DIAC). The Decree has abolished both ‘the Emirate Maritime Arbitration Centre’ as well as the ‘the Dubai International Financial Centre Arbitration Institute’ and has transferred their employees, assets, rights, and obligations to the DIAC.
All the agreements which had set the jurisdiction of the above-mentioned abolished arbitration centres still stand valid and the arbitration in disputes surrounding such agreements shall now be done by the DIAC. The ongoing arbitration proceedings will continue and shall be supervised by the DIAC.
The DIAC was established in 2004 to provide efficient and impartial administration of commercial disputes. The DIAC aims at reaching out to other international or regional arbitration centres through the exchange of expertise, arbitrators, and other resources to achieve the objectives of the centre. Other functions include ensuring the enforcement of arbitration orders through MOUs with various national and international courts. These functions in totality aim at achieving the objectives of the DIAC to promote ADR as the primary method of dispute resolution for financial and commercial disputes.
The Decree sets the DIAC as the primary centre for conducting arbitration proceedings if parties have not specifically mentioned any other place. The decree-law also provides for arbitration through other electronic and modern technological methods.
The DIAC will have a board of directors with a total of 9 members including a Chairman and Vice-Chairman. The Board will function to achieve the objectives of the DIAC along with the creation of rules and by-laws on the lines of best international policies to regulate the arbitration proceedings. Further, the board is responsible for administrative responsibilities of the centre including approval of the annual budget and deciding remuneration of employees. The Board is further responsible to propose future policies by conducting studies on the functioning of arbitration, conciliation, and other ADR methods.
The Decree establishes an Arbitration Court with a total of 13 members including a president and vice president. The objective of the Arbitration Court is to undertake general supervision of the ADR methods offered by the DIAC and ensure its proper and timely use. The members shall be appointed pursuant to the resolution of the board of directors. The court shall have the power to ensure effective implementation of the provision of this law and the rules adopted by the DIAC and the parties to the disputes. The court is also responsible for appointing arbitration tribunal and conciliation panels.
Further, the Arbitration Court is also responsible for determining fees for services provided by DIAC like arbitration, conciliation, and others.
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