The Courts in DIFC were set up through Law No. 12 of 2004 concerning Judicial Authorities at the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC LAW). The law laid down the establishment of the Court of First Instance as well as the Court of Appeal.  In accordance with this law, the Small Claims Tribunal (SCT) was established in the year 2007 to enable justice swiftly and efficiently without the need for a lawyer representing the parties in the proceedings. Part 53 of the DIFC Rules lays down the detailed procedure of dispute redressal through SCT.


The SCT has jurisdiction over the disputes that may arise within the jurisdiction of DIFC where[1]:

  1. The amount of claim is smaller than AED 500,000,
  2. The dispute is on employment matters, and the parties elected the SCT as dispute resolution forum,
  3. The amount of claim is less than AED 1,000,000 and the parties to the dispute have themselves submitted its jurisdiction.

Tribunal Fee

In employment matters the SCT charges a fee of 2% of the value of the claim with a minimum of USD 100. Any appeal of a decision made by the SCT in the Court of First Instance (CFI) may be subject to a fee of 1% of the dispute at the CFI.

For rental disputes that do not exceed AED 500,000, the SCT may charge a fee of 5% of the disputed amount with a minimum of USD 100. For other disputes, the SCT may charge a fee of 5% as a Tribunal fee for adjudicating the claims. For such disputes, the appeal to the CFI shall be subject to a fee of 2.5% of the disputed amount.

Procedural Brief

Below are a few features of interest in how the SCT functions:

  1. The parties need not be represented by lawyers and must represent themselves. Alternatively, a non-lawyer representative may appear before the SCT with a power of attorney. A company may be represented by an authorized representative to appear before the SCT. There is an express need to take permission from the SCT Judge to be represented by a lawyer.
  2. The SCT has a set timeline of seven days in which the defendant upon service of the claim has to respond to the claimant and file his defense with the SCT.
  3. After the filing of claims and counterclaims, the SCT Registry appoints a pre-hearing consultation in which the SCT Judge tries to resolve the dispute before initiating the trial.
  4. In the absence of any of the parties during the consultation process, the SCT Judge may pass an adverse order against the parties wherein the claim may be settled in favor of the claimant (in the defendant’s absence) or the claim may also be dismissed (in the claimant’s absence). The Judge may also choose to adjourn the matter to another date. Hence it becomes important for the parties to explain their absence in advance to avoid adverse order.
  5. If the parties fail to settle the matter during consultation, the SCT Judge may direct the parties to prepare the claim for hearing.
  6. A different SCT judge is appointed to preside over the hearing and he chooses the method and procedure for the proceedings.
  7. The Parties have to attend the hearings and present their cases personally. The SCT judge may allow the parties to be represented by non-lawyers where reasonably necessary. Legal representation is only allowed in exceptional cases.
  8. Any party may file an appeal against the decision of the SCT and has to seek Permission to Appeal which has to be approved by CIF before the appeal proceedings are initiated in the CIF.

Thus, the DIFC SCT has greatly contributed towards making the resolution of disputes a very simple and fast process.

 For more information, you may contact:

Fauzia Khan

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