Leading global law firm Baker McKenzie Habib Al Mulla recently hosted a seminar in Dubai on the publication of the first ever stand-alone Federal Arbitration Law in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in May 2018 and its impact on businesses operating in the Middle East.

Andrew Mackenzie, UAE Head of International Arbitration at Baker McKenzie Habib Al Mulla, moderated a lively interactive debate with colleagues from the Firm's Arbitration practice - Dr. Habib Al Mulla (UAE Executive Chairman and Head of Dispute Resolution), Celine Abi Habib Kanakri (counsel) and Sally Kotb (senior associate) - around the practical implications of the new law for those seeking to resolve disputes in the UAE going forward.

Over 100 participants, including senior executives from leading corporates and major financial institutions, across all industry sectors, joined in discussions around:

  1. the impact on the UAE and wider MENA’s arbitration landscape;
  2. the new procedural implications;
  3. the impact on current and past arbitral proceedings;
  4. the ability to seek interim relief from both the local courts and arbitration tribunals;
  5. the widened scope and powers of the arbitration tribunal; and
  6. the enhanced regime for the enforcement of arbitration awards.

A survey of the participants revealed that 45% believed that the new law was an improvement on the old system, whilst another 45% thought it was too soon to tell. The remaining 10% felt there was no improvement.

“The UAE's new stand-alone Federal Arbitration Law is a very welcome development for businesses and reflects the nation's commitment to remaining at the forefront of dispute resolution in the Middle East,” said Dr. Habib Al Mulla, Executive Chairman and Head of Dispute Resolution at Baker McKenzie Habib Al Mulla. "There are still areas where the new law could go a step further, but time will tell whether the new law will enable proceedings to be concluded more rapidly and economically, as envisaged."

Andrew Mackenzie, Partner and UAE Head of International Arbitration at Baker McKenzie Habib Al Mulla added, "The new Federal Arbitration Law embodies a more progressive approach to the conduct of arbitral proceedings and certainly is a step in the right direction. We shall however need to wait and watch to see whether its practical application will be in line with international standards and best practices".

For a copy of the analysis of the new law provided to participants (including the Arabic law and English translation), please contact UAE.BD@bakermckenzie.com

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