Leading global law firm Baker McKenzie recently hosted seminars in Abu Dhabi and Dubai focusing on how companies doing business in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region can anticipate risks, reduce their exposure to disputes and manage them cost effectively if they arise.
The inaugural year-end seminar was led by senior Baker McKenzie Dispute Resolution lawyers from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt, the UK and the US, together with the Abu Dhabi Global Markets (ADGM) Courts. Over 60 participants, including senior executives from leading corporates and major financial institutions, across all industry sectors, joined in discussions around:
- the drivers behind the increase in disputes across the region in 2018;
- latest legal and political developments, local and international regulatory issues, and their impact on regional businesses;
- latest trends in dispute resolution both regionally and internationally, and
- challenges and opportunities on the horizon for 2019
A survey of the participants revealed that 53% believed that liquidity issues and non-payments were the main driver of the rise of disputes across the region in the past year, followed closely by economic uncertainty (48%).
“2018 has been marked with the rise of increasingly complex disputes in the MENA region across all industry sectors, as the region continues to open up to international trade and investment," said Dr. Habib Al Mulla, Executive Chairman of Baker McKenzie Habib Al Mulla. "Concerns around global geopolitics and market volatility will continue to drive an increase in disputes across MENA for the foreseeable future, and countries such as the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia are prominent in taking steps to facilitate the management of disputes.”
Andrew Mackenzie, UAE Head of International Arbitration and Construction at Baker McKenzie Habib Al Mulla, commented, "Governments across the region are making structural changes in court systems to streamline processes to give parties greater confidence in and certainty over the disputes process. Technology is playing an instrumental role in expediting the conduct and resolution of disputes, and the increase in specialised commercial centres across MENA offers a plethora of forums for dispute resolution."
The seminar panellists comprised Linda Fitz-Alan, the Registrar and Chief Executive of the ADGM Courts, and Baker McKenzie Dispute Resolution partners Dr. Habib Al Mulla (UAE), Andrew Mackenzie (UAE), James P. Duffy IV (US), Steve Abraham (UK), Kate Corby (UK), Mohamad Talaat (Egypt) and Anton Mikel (Saudi Arabia), as well as senior UAE arbitration lawyers Céline Abi Habib Kanakri and Sally Kotb.