Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 23 May 2019

American judges can take courts to the next level

Long-term investor confidence requires a seamless and accessible judicial system

Colleen O'Toole and Oran Whiting are the first American judges to preside over an Abu Dhabi court. Victor Besa / The National 
Colleen O'Toole and Oran Whiting are the first American judges to preside over an Abu Dhabi court. Victor Besa / The National 

The UAE’s robust legal system offers proof that the nation is truly open to all. That is why Abu Dhabi has sworn in Colleen O’Toole and Oran Whiting – two high-profile American judges, who will soon hear cases UAE capital. As Counsellor Youssef Al Ebri, undersecretary of Abu Dhabi Judicial Department says, their appointment presents to the world an “English-speaking, world-class court”. In line with the Ghadan 21 plan, a series of ambitious economic and social reforms, a string of revolutionary changes have created a modern legal framework in the emirate. In an interview with The National, Judge Whiting, a former US Supreme Court nominee, said: “There are a few things that can be amended and tweaked to be a bit better and there are things here that I think can be used back in the States to tweak that system. It is a mutual learning experience.”

As the UAE looks to diversify its economy and embrace the future, it is quickly attracting foreign investors, keen to play a mutually beneficial role in the nation’s growth. That is the thinking behind programmes such as Hub71, which will bring start-ups from across the world to the UAE’s shores. But long-term investor confidence requires a seamless and genuinely accessible judicial system. The vast majority of people who come to Abu Dhabi to live and work do so without issue. But the small number who get embroiled in legal proceedings must know that the law is transparent and even-handed.

The arrival of the American judges, who will preside over disputes worth more than Dh1 million, is the latest step in a wider drive to ensure that the Abu Dhabi courts serve justice to the highest possible standards. This year alone, Hindi has been introduced as the third official language of the court system and a new summary cases court has been launched to quickly tackle labour cases. Initiatives such as these will take Abu Dhabi’s legal system to the next level. That ambition is a reflection of a dynamic and maturing society.

Updated: May 12, 2019 06:17 PM

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