Dubai: A rapid transition to remote hearings helped Dubai International Financial Center courts handle a significant year-on-year increase in claims filed with the English-language common law jurisdiction, figures released on Monday show.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the courts have launched remote hearings and digital capabilities. All hearings now take place via digital platforms, giving court users greater choice and flexibility as well as more expedient access to justice.
The shift to digital remote hearings follows a June 2021 directive by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, vice president, prime minister and ruler of Dubai, with the Ministry of Justice instructed to hold 80 percent of litigation sessions virtually before the end of 2021.
Figures released on Monday show the volume of cases in the main Court of First Instance increased by 11 percent in 2021 over the same period in 2020. The value of cases across the CFI in the same period totalled AED 2.8 billion ($760 million), an increase of 27 percent year-on-year, with an average case value of AED 56.9 million.
Cases within the Arbitration Division under the CFI also recorded an increase of 36 percent in 2021. The total value of claims across all divisions amounted to AED 3.4 billion.
Cases brought before the CFI covered sectors including banking and finance, construction, real estate and manufacturing, while disputes related to breach of contract, outstanding payments, wills and probate, and employment.
There was also a noticeable number of “opt-in” cases for the first six months of 2021, with 50 percent of claims originating from parties electing to use the DIFC courts to resolve disputes.
The total value of enforcement claims filed amounted to AED 568 million for the first half of 2021, an increase of 198 percent year-on-year. The total number of claims rose by 8 percent compared with the first six months of 2020.
Greater awareness and innovative use of technology, including the region’s first “Smart SCT” virtual court, has led to more than 64 percent of claims registered coming from parties selecting the SCT as their preferred method for resolution.
DIFC Courts Chief Justice Zaki Azmi said: “The growing maturity of the DIFC courts is now reflected in the increased awareness of, and trust in, our ability to not only offer world-class access to court services, but also to ensure the highest standard of judicial expertise and oversight.”
He added: “We continue our drive toward full digital transformation and equipping our court users with the most advanced tools, creating legal security and certainty for businesses in an era of technological disruption.