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UK-UAE Trade ties strengthened through memorandum between Commercial Courts

|Media Release

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Commercial Court of England and Wales signs Memorandum of Guidance with Dubai’s DIFC Courts at London Ceremony

Support for Investors, Businessmen and Lawyers

London, 23 January 2013: Legal and trade relations between Dubai and the UK will be strengthened through a ‘Memorandum of Guidance’ (MoG) signed in London on 23 January between the Dubai’s International Centre (DIFC) Courts – the leading English language commercial court in the Middle East – and the Commercial Court of England and Wales, the world’s leading Commercial Court.

Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is now widely recognised as the investment and business hub of the Middle East. The Memorandum of Guidance is designed to assist investors, businessmen and lawyers in the UK who wish to develop closer trade and investment links with the Emirate – and vice versa. It clarifies existing arrangements between the two courts, defining such issues as the mutual enforcement of judgments – in accordance with principles and practices set out in detail in the document.

The Memorandum accordingly reflects the historic trade and industry links between the UK and the UAE, while reinforcing a shared commitment to providing the highest standards of commercial justice. It has been signed by DIFC Courts’ Chief Justice Michael Hwang and the Honourable Mr Justice Cooke, Judge In Charge of the Commercial Court of England and Wales.

The signing ceremony took place ahead of the ninth meeting of the UK-UAE Task Force, in the presence of the Foreign Office Minister for the Middle East and North Africa, Alistair Burt, and His Excellency Dr Anwar Gargash, the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs. The UK-UAE Taskforce was established in June 2010 when Prime Minister David Cameron visited the UAE, with the objective of strengthening the UK’s relationship with the UAE across the board: in culture, education, defence and security, trade and investment, and foreign policy co-operation. Under the umbrella of the Task Force the UK-UAE bilateral relationship has gone from strength to strength.

Michael Hwang, Chief Justice of the DIFC Courts, commented: “We greatly welcome this Memorandum of Guidance, which will bring clarity and confidence to the relationship between our two courts. Without a clear understanding of enforcement and judicial procedures across borders, businesses are unable to form and nurture the international trade relationships needed to fuel economic growth.”

The Honourable Mr Justice Cooke, Judge In Charge of the Commercial Court, said: “A surprising number of people today are unaware of the reciprocity between courts. While reiterating the existing relationship between DIFC Courts and the Commercial Court in London, the Memorandum of Guidance sets out the basis upon which judgments of one court can be enforced in the other and helps to engender an atmosphere in which business can flourish.”

A comprehensive version of the Memorandum of Guidance and on the DIFC Courts’ website



Notes to Editors

For more information please contact

For DIFC Courts
Alison Hook
+44 (0)20 7959 2275

For The Commercial Court
Stephen Ward
+44 (0)20 7947 6438

About the Commercial Court of England and Wales

The Commercial Court, based at the Rolls Building in the City of London, deals with complex cases arising out of business disputes, both national and international, including

  • commercial agreements
  • import and export
  • carriage of goods by sea, land and air
  • banking and financial services
  • insurance and reinsurance
  • markets and exchanges
  • commodities
  • construction of ships, and
  • agency, arbitration and competition matters.

Disputes in the Commercial Courts are largely international in flavour, with the vast majority of cases having at least one defendant or claimant from outside England and Wales.

A dedicated courthouse for the Chancery Division, the Commercial Court, the Admiralty Court, and the Technology and Construction Court, the Rolls Building was officially opened by HM the Queen in December 2011. High Court judges sit in the Rolls Building accompanied with further specialist courts for dealing with company cases, bankruptcy cases, and mercantile cases. This purpose-built courthouse with modern, high quality, facilities is the largest business court in the world and its presence underpins the City of London’s position as the world’s pre-eminent financial centre for both international and national dispute resolution.

UK legal services contributed some £25.6 billion to the gross national product in 2010. Source: Office of National Statistics, Annual Business Survey (release date 14 June 2012) Section M
Over 200 foreign law firms now have offices in London.

Four of the top 10 global law firms (by gross revenue in 2010/2011) have their headquarters in the UK. Two further firms in the top 10 have their largest presence in the UK or started in the UK (Baker & Mackenzie and DLA Piper), meaning that 6 of the top 10 global law firms have close connections with the UK

About the DIFC Courts

The UAE’s DIFC Courts administer a unique English-language common law system – offering swift, independent justice to settle local and international commercial or civil disputes. The Courts, based in Dubai, provide certainty through transparent, enforceable judgments from internationally-recognised judges, who adhere to the highest global legal standards. The DIFC Courts are independent from, but complementary to, the UAE’s Arabic-language civil law system – offering a choice that strengthens both processes while ensuring public access to world-class justice.

In October 2011, a decree of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, opened the DIFC Courts’ jurisdiction to businesses from all across the GCC region and beyond to provide the international business community with access to one of the most advanced commercial courts in the world.

The DIFC Courts were established under laws enacted by the late HH Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai in September 2004. The laws establishing the DIFC Courts are designed to ensure that the DIFC Courts provide the certainty, flexibility and efficiency expected by Court users. Nearly 500 cases have been resolved through the DIFC Courts since 2008, while over 90% of Small Claims Tribunal cases are concluded within three weeks. The Courts’ community-focused approach encourages early settlement, while their successful track record supports Dubai’s growing status as an international business hub.

In line with HH Sheikh Mohammed’s vision, the DIFC Courts serve to develop the UAE national workforce and enhance the competitiveness of Emirati advocates. The DIFC Courts are spearheading training programmes predominantly aimed at local Emirati lawyers, which offer knowledge of, and qualifications in, the English-language common law system.

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