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Recent Amendments to UAE Arbitration Law: Enhancing Efficiency and Flexibility

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Recent Amendments to UAE Arbitration Law: Enhancing Efficiency and Flexibility

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has taken significant strides to solidify its position as a prominent international arbitration hub with the enactment of Federal Law No. (15) of 2023. This groundbreaking Amendment Law introduces substantial changes to the UAE’s arbitration landscape, aiming to enhance its efficiency, flexibility, and appeal to both domestic and international stakeholders.

Expanding Horizons: Virtual Arbitration

One of the most remarkable amendments brought about by the Federal Law No. (15) of 2023 pertains to the scope of arbitration proceedings. Article 28 of the Amendment Law addresses the evolving trend of virtual and online arbitration proceedings. Parties can now agree on the mode and location of arbitration, including virtual platforms or technical environments. In cases where the parties do not reach an agreement, the arbitration tribunal has the authority to make this determination based on the case’s specific circumstances and the parties’ convenience. This adaptation caters to the growing demand for online dispute resolution, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it also raises concerns about ensuring the security, confidentiality, and enforceability of virtual arbitration processes.

Broadening Arbitrator Selection: Overcoming Restrictions

Another significant change is the relaxation of restrictions concerning the appointment of arbitrators from arbitration institutions’ supervisory or controlling bodies. Article 10 of the Amendment Law provides an exception that permits parties to appoint such arbitrators under certain conditions, such as obtaining the parties’ consent and limiting the number of cases handled by the arbitrator within a year. This amendment seeks to expand the pool of qualified arbitrators, recognizing the practical limitations faced by some arbitration institutions. Nevertheless, it necessitates careful consideration of potential biases and challenges, as well as compliance with the Amendment Law and the institution’s rules.

Empowering Arbitration Tribunals: Procedural Flexibility

The Amendment Law further empowers arbitration tribunals by granting them discretion in determining procedural aspects and evidentiary rules. Article 23 reaffirms parties’ autonomy in establishing arbitration procedures, allowing them to adopt the rules of any arbitration organization or institution, both domestically and internationally. When parties do not reach an agreement on procedures, the arbitration tribunal can decide on the appropriate ones, adhering to principles of justice and international conventions. This flexibility extends to the choice of holding oral hearings or adopting a “documents only” approach, aligning with various civil law legal systems. These changes aim to enhance efficiency and adaptability in the arbitration process.

UAE as an International Arbitration Hub

The Amendments to the UAE’s arbitration law align with the country’s aspiration to become a global hub for international arbitration. The move towards modernity, flexibility, and procedural enhancements reinforces the UAE’s commitment to providing an arbitration-friendly environment. While the impact of these Amendments remains to be fully realized, they mark a significant step towards establishing the UAE as a trusted destination for international dispute resolution.

At Al Kabban & Associates, we stay at the forefront of legal developments to assist our clients in navigating these changes. With a legacy spanning over three decades and recognition as a leading firm by the Legal 500 in the UAE, we are dedicated to providing top-tier legal services to meet our clients’ evolving needs. For inquiries concerning Arbitration in Dubai or any other legal matters in the UAE, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Tags: UAE Arbitration, Arbitration Law Dubai-UAE, Dubai Arbitrators, Dubai International Arbitration Center (DIAC)

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