The establishment this week of a centre for the amicable resolution of legal disputes in Dubai represents the latest in a series of reforms on handling cases that have grown both more numerous and more complex during the global economic crisis. The new centre, according to a release by WAM, the state news agency, will deal with a wide range of disputes before they reach Dubai's courts. The centre will have a month to settle cases amicably; if agreements cannot be reached, cases are to be forwarded on to the regular courts.
The centre, established in a law issued on Thursday evening by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, the Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, adds to a rapidly growing legal and regulatory infrastructure designed to give added protection to consumers and businesses. In 2007, Dubai established the Real Estate Regulatory Authority to act as an overseer of property-related transactions. Last September, Dubai started a property court to mediate disputes between consumers and property companies.
In April, the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department announced that it was establishing specialist courts to deal with cases that required expertise beyond what the existing court system was capable of handling. Those courts would decide disputes between property firms and contractors, medical malpractice cases and complex financial cases. And in May, the head of the UAE's Ministry of Economy said a new court to arbitrate consumer disputes was on the way by the end of the year.
Economists have said that such legal reforms are crucial if the UAE is to build upon its attractiveness as a safe place to invest and establish a business. The financial crisis has caused an escalation in commercial and consumer disputes this year, helping usher in legal reform. In addition to the law establishing a dispute resolution centre, Sheikh Mohammed on Thursday issued two decrees and a number of other laws covering the budget for the emirate and businesses operating within it.