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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 December 2018

DIFC Courts launches new technical and construction disputes court

New division aims to streamline resolution of complex technical disputes

The DIFC Courts' new Technology and Construction Division aims to streamline the resolution of highly technical disputes. Sarah Dea / The National
The DIFC Courts' new Technology and Construction Division aims to streamline the resolution of highly technical disputes. Sarah Dea / The National

DIFC Courts rolled out a specialised sub-division that will streamline the resolution of legal cases involving complex technology and construction disputes.

The Technology and Construction Division (TCD) draws on specialist judges and a newly-developed rulebook specific to both industries, the freezone courts said in an emailed statement on Sunday.

The new division will exclusively hear technically complex cases, dealing with matters like determining liability for cybercrime incidents, complicated engineering disputes, and claims arising out of fires.

“The TCD has been designed around the particular characteristics of highly complex technology and construction disputes, which can be resolved much more speedily and efficiently with the oversight of specialist judicial expertise,” said DIFC Courts Chief Justice Michael Hwang.

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The new division will be headed by Justice Sir Richard Field, who joined the DIFC Courts in 2015, following his tenure as Judge in Charge of the Commercial Court in London. Parties anywhere in the world will be able to make use of the division’s services if both parties to the dispute agree in writing.

The services provided by the TCD are similar to those offered by the Technology & Construction Courts of England & Wales, which have been used to hear complex cases in both sectors since the late 1990s.

The creation of the new division has been broadly welcomed by Dubai's legal community.

“The TCD is certainly a welcome addition to the framework of the innovative and expanded DIFC Courts,” said John Smy, head of engineering & construction at Hadef & Partners in Dubai.

“It should hopefully (if the development of the Technology & Construction Courts of England and Wales are used as an example), prove to be a highly knowledgeable and capable court which provides specifically focused expertise and understanding and a degree of certainty in its English-language judgments.”

However, Mr Smy questioned the extent to which developers and contractors would want to use the public forum of the TCD to resolve disputes, rather than the confidential forum of international arbitration.

“Technology and construction companies already choose the DIFC Courts because their proceedings are in English and follow familiar rules," said Tarek Shrayh, a Dubai-based litigation partner with Al Tamimi & Co

"Appeals and delays are less common than in the local courts, and DIFC Court orders are generally easier to enforce than arbitral awards. The new TCD, with its tailored rules, will increase the DIFC Courts’ appeal to such companies, particularly for complex disputes requiring expert evidence."