Client Alert 15 Oct. 2021

Recent Change in Dubai’s Arbitration Landscape

The full alert is available for download with footnotes here.

On 14 September 2021, Decree No. 34 of 2021 Concerning the Dubai International Arbitration Centre was issued by Dubai’s Ruler, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (the “Decree”). It came into effect on 20 September 2021.

The Decree has re-shaped the Dubai arbitration landscape by abolishing the Dubai International Financial Centre Arbitration Institute and the Emirates Maritime Arbitration Centre, and consolidating arbitrations subject to their rules within a re-vamped Dubai International Arbitration Centre. The Decree has therefore in effect also abolished the DIFC-LCIA Arbitration Centre, which had been established pursuant to an operating agreement between the DAI and the London Court of International Arbitration.

On 7 October 2021, the DIFC and the LCIA issued press releases concerning the proposed implementation of the Decree. The DIFC proposed for ongoing DIFC-LCIA arbitrations commenced prior to the effective date of the Decree to be administered by the LCIA, with the DIFC-LCIA Registrar and Secretariat seconded from DIAC to the LCIA for this purpose. However, arbitrations commenced pursuant to agreements referring to DIFC-LCIA Rules after the effective date of the Decree would be administered by DIAC subject to DIAC Rules. It is understood that the DIFC-LCIA has stopped registering new arbitrations pending further clarification. It is unclear at this stage whether DIAC is registering new arbitrations pursuant to arbitration agreements providing for DIFC-LCIA Rules.

This client alert considers the key provisions of the Decree and its immediate impact on arbitration in Dubai.