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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 11 December 2018

Arbitration hearing centre a milestone for Abu Dhabi economy

Why the creation of a new arbitration hearing centre matters

Abu Dhabi Global Market Square at Al Maryah Island in Abu Dhabi. Mona Al Marzooqi / The National
Abu Dhabi Global Market Square at Al Maryah Island in Abu Dhabi. Mona Al Marzooqi / The National

Let’s be honest: arbitration may not the most exciting news topic in the world. The judicial determination of a dispute by third parties, the private legal proceedings take place behind closed doors, painstakingly unfolding over months if not years, with the final outcomes often never known by anyone apart from the parties.

Even so, the announcement of a new arbitration hearing centre by Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), including the opening of a representative office of the much respected Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), is a significant milestone in the development of both Abu Dhabi’s legal infrastructure and its wider economy.

The ICC’s representative office, due to open in early 2018, is the first of its kind in the Middle East. It will be able to accept the registration of arbitration cases under the ICC Rules, which will then be administered by one of the ICC Court Secretariat’s existing case management teams.

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Read more:

New ADGM arbitration centre to be launched

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The centre’s services will be welcomed by the emirate’s business community, along with their lawyers. The new framework is not confined to individuals and companies within ADGM, or even entities in Abu Dhabi. ADGM’s arbitration structure is based on the UNCITRAL model law, the arbitration community’s commonly accepted international benchmark, offering an additional layer of comfort to international companies and their legal representatives, improving the ease of doing business in the country.

The decision by the ICC to establish a representative office here is a vote of confidence in Abu Dhabi and the UAE. It comes nine years after a tie-up between the ICC’s international rival the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) and Dubai’s financial free zone the DIFC, where the legislative framework has helped address construction and real estate disputes.

The UAE’s arbitration infrastructure stands to benefit as the country’s mediation framework is in need of improvement; outside of its free zones. The country does not have a modern arbitration law aside from a few articles in its civil code, even though a new law based on UNCITRAL is reportedly in the works.

But yesterday’s announcements by ADGM is another landmark for Abu Dhabi, which can only improve the ease of doing business in the UAE.