Friday, May 25, 2018

UAE, not to be Out-Done by Qatar, has Finally Passed a New Arbitration Law

More Modern Arbitration Laws for the Arab Gulf

GAR reports that the United Arab Emirates has issued its long-awaited self-standing arbitration law, based on the UNCITRAL Model Law.  The Arabic version of the the law is found here.  In this post, I am reproducing the GAR story with a few edits.

His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the president of the UAE, issued Federal Law No. 6 of 2018 yesterday, after it was approved by his cabinet of ministers in February.

It repeals and replaces the previous UAE arbitration law, contained within a chapter of the UAE Civil Procedures Law No. 11 of 1992.

The new law will apply to all arbitral proceedings, including both domestic and international proceedings.  Its 61 articles include:

  • articulation of the principles of separability and competence-competence; 
  • power for arbitral tribunals and courts to order interim and conservatory measures relating to ongoing or potential arbitrations, with no waiver of the right to arbitrate if they are issued by the court; 
  • clarification of the competent court and its powers; 
  • confirmation that electronic writings satisfy the requirement that the arbitration clause be in writing; 
  • rules ensuring the enforceability of interim and partial awards; and 
  • the requirement that requests for annulment must be initiated within 30 days of notification of the award to the parties, with clarification that they do not automatically stay enforcement proceedings.

The law also says that the UAE's minster of economy will coordinate with the arbitration institutions of the UAE to issue a charter on the professional conduct of arbitrators.

Essam Al Tamimi, senior partner at Al Tamimi & Co in Dubai says, “this state-of-the-art arbitration law will fortify the UAE’s position as the leading seat in the MENA region. It is a landmark law that is the best arbitration law in the region."

Thomas Snider, partner and head of arbitration at Al Tamimi & Co, says that “with this new law, the UAE has achieved a critical milestone in fostering arbitration as a leading and reliable form of dispute resolution for all types of commercial and construction disputes in the country.”

Mohammed El Ghatit, founder and co-managing partner of OGH Legal in Dubai, tells GAR he first heard talk of a new arbitration law in 2006, the year the UAE
acceded to the New York Convention, and that for the country to finally issue one [several drafts later] is a “fantastic achievement.”

He says there have been a few “minor changes” to the draft law adopted by the cabinet in February. For example, in that draft, an order for the enforcement of an award was not subject to appeal, though an order rejecting recognition and enforcement was. In the final version, both types of order can be appealed. The final version also prohibits members of the boards of arbitral institutions, or their administrative staff, from acting as arbitrators in cases administered by their
institution. This prohibition did not appear in the previous version.

Qatar passed a modern arbitration law in February 2017, making it one of the few countries in the Arab world with a modern arbitration law that would be familiar to European and American companies working in the region.  An English version of the law appears here.  I understand some problems may exist with the translation, but I do not know enough about the law to point out the language with possible traps.  Another translation appears here.

A summary of its key points appears here.  More commentary about the Qatari law here, here, and here.

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