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Commercial Arbitration in the UAE: A Comprehensive Guide for Businesses by Al Kabban & Associates

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Commercial arbitration in the UAE has gained traction as an efficient, time-saving, and cost-effective alternative dispute resolution method for businesses. Its growing popularity can be attributed to the confidentiality, flexibility, and speed it offers as compared to traditional litigation. Al Kabban & Associates, with a wealth of experience in assisting clients with the arbitration process, presents this comprehensive guide to help you understand the nuances of commercial arbitration in the UAE.

In this article, we will explore the legal framework governing commercial arbitration, the benefits it offers, the arbitration process, and the enforceability of arbitral awards, among other essential aspects. As a business operating in the UAE, you can reap substantial advantages by opting for commercial arbitration to resolve disputes. Al Kabban & Associates’ expertise in this field can guide you through the process, ensuring a favourable and efficient outcome for all parties involved.

The Legal Framework Governing Commercial Arbitration in the UAE

To ensure a robust and structured approach towards commercial arbitration, the UAE government implemented Federal Law No. 6 of 2018, known as the UAE Arbitration Law, as  recently amended in Federal Law No. 15 of 2023. This law governs the arbitration process within the nation, aligning it with international arbitration standards and practices. The UAE Arbitration Law is modelled after the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration, adopted by the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law in 1985. Thus, businesses can be assured of a transparent and fair legal environment in the arbitration process.

Benefits of Commercial Arbitration in the UAE

  1. Flexibility: Unlike traditional litigation, parties involved in commercial arbitration can determine the procedural aspects of the arbitration process, including selecting the arbitrators, setting timelines, and choosing the location. This flexibility ensures that the process is tailored to accommodate the specific needs and expectations of each party involved.
  2. Time-Saving and Cost-Effective: Owing to its customisable and streamlined nature, the commercial arbitration process is generally quicker and more cost effective than lengthy court proceedings. This feature is particularly beneficial to businesses for whom time is often a crucial factor in dispute resolution.
  3. Confidentiality: Confidentiality is a key advantage of commercial arbitration. Matters discussed during arbitration are not disclosed to the public, thereby protecting the reputation of the parties involved and the confidential information shared during the proceedings.
  4. Enforceability of Awards: Arbitral awards are final and binding on the parties involved. Further, the UAE is a signatory to the 1958 New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, which ensures the enforceability of foreign arbitral awards in more than 165 participating countries.

The Arbitration Process: Understanding Steps and Procedures

  1. Drafting the Arbitration Agreement: The foundation of any arbitration process is the arbitration agreement. It is imperative for parties to have a well-drafted arbitration clause in their commercial contracts specifying the governing rules, the number of arbitrators, and the language of the arbitration. These agreements should be clear, concise, and enforceable.
  2. Appointment of Arbitrators: Qualified professionals must be selected as arbitrators, which can either be done by the parties themselves or through an arbitration institution. Ideally, the arbitrators should be experienced professionals with expertise in the relevant field, ensuring fair and unbiased resolution of the dispute.
  3. Submission of Statements and Evidence: Once the arbitration tribunal is formed, parties submit their respective statements, claims, and defences. Relevant documents, witness statements, and expert reports can also be submitted as evidence to support their respective positions.
  4. Oral Hearings and Examination of Witnesses: During the oral hearing stage, the parties present their cases before the arbitral tribunal, which may involve examination and cross-examination of witnesses and experts.
  5. Arbitral Award: Following the hearings, the tribunal delivers the arbitral award, which is a written document outlining the decision reached. The award is final and binding, with limited grounds for appeal or recourse.

Institutional vs Ad Hoc Arbitration: Making the Right Choice

When opting for commercial arbitration in the UAE, businesses can choose between institutional and ad hoc arbitration.

Institutional Arbitration: This form of arbitration is administered by a specific arbitral institution, such as the Dubai International Arbitration Centre (DIAC) and the Abu Dhabi Commercial Conciliation and Arbitration Centre (ADCCAC) amongst others. These institutions offer a structured framework for the arbitration process, including a clear set of rules, guidelines, and support services. This can be beneficial for businesses that prefer predictability and established procedural efficiency.

Ad Hoc Arbitration: In ad hoc arbitration, parties manage the arbitration process and proceedings themselves, following individualized rules and procedures agreed upon by the parties. This approach can provide greater flexibility and control for the parties involved but may require significant planning and organization.

Regardless of the choice made, businesses should ensure they seek guidance from experienced legal professionals, such as those at Al Kabban & Associates, to comprehend the nuances involved and make informed decisions fully.

Selecting the Right Arbitration Institution in the UAE

The choice of an arbitration institution is essential in ensuring a successful arbitration outcome. Businesses should consider factors such as the reputation of the institution, the expertise of the arbitrators, the institutional rules, and the likely outcome of the arbitration process.

Some of the well-regarded arbitration institutions in the UAE include:

  1. Dubai International Arbitration Centre (DIAC)
  2. Abu Dhabi Commercial Conciliation and Arbitration Centre (ADCCAC)
  3. Sharjah International Commercial Arbitration Centre (TAHKEEM)

To make the most appropriate choice, it is crucial to engage the services of a reputable law firm with expertise in arbitration matters, such as Al Kabban & Associates, to provide personalized guidance and support throughout the entire arbitration process.

Leveraging Arbitration Expertise for Effective Dispute Resolution

Navigating the intricacies of commercial arbitration in the UAE can be complex and time-consuming without the assistance of experienced legal professionals. Al Kabban & Associates’ team of skilled arbitration lawyers in Dubai, UAE, is equipped to provide personalized guidance, from drafting arbitration agreements to selecting the right arbitration institution and ensuring favourable outcomes. Our focus on your individual needs and our wealth of expertise in the field ensures seamless support in effectively resolving commercial disputes through arbitration. To learn more about how our arbitration services can benefit your business, contact us today and let our expert team provide the tailored advice you need for successful results.


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