25 Sep 2017

Q&A with ADGM

Authored by: Michael Dunmore

Q&A with ADGM

On 13th September 2017 Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) and International Chamber of Commerce (“ICC”) held a ceremony to announce the opening of the ICC representative office in ADGM.

Linda Fitz-Alan is Registrar and Chief Executive of ADGM Courts, she has been with ADGM for about two years since joining from the Supreme Court of New South Wales in Australia.

Michael Dunmore is an international arbitration lawyer in Hadef & Partners' Dispute Resolution team based in Abu Dhabi. He most recently worked with Baker McKenzie in their Tokyo office but prior to that has experience of working with several arbitration centres. He is a member of the ADGM Courts Young Lawyers Liaison Group.

Following the launch event Linda and Michael sat down to talk about the exciting developments and the future plans for arbitration in ADGM.

Michael: The ICC opening a representative office in Abu Dhabi and establishing a new arbitration centre are both welcome and important developments. Can you provide some background to the planning that took place to make this happen?

Linda: After the enactment of ADGM’s Arbitration Regulations in December 2015 (“Regulations”), which were very well-received due to their progressive nature, we were overwhelmed with feedback and enquiries concerning ADGM’s next steps in arbitration. We also received many comments during our open market consultation on the draft Regulations. All that information enabled us to shape and refine the research that we proposed to conduct to ascertain our future strategy and direction in arbitration and, more importantly, to explore what would resonate and be of benefit to the arbitration community in Abu Dhabi and the region.

We took some time to talk to our partners and to a range of stakeholders to ensure that our next steps met demand and expectations. Several distinct themes came through in our research:

  • The very strong and impressive global reputation of the ICC and its wide acceptance as arbitral institution of choice by parties in the region
  • The encouragement of ADGM to expand its internationally focused dispute resolution services, and
  • The arbitration community’s desire to have facilities that would be available to all parties.

These insights assisted us enormously in developing a precise plan, which has now come to fruition.

We are delighted with the feedback that we have received in response to these major achievements and we are very much looking forward to working with the ICC. Overall, we view these achievements as a very positive step towards the UAE becoming a global leader in international dispute resolution.

Michael: What types of facilities will the hearing centre have?

Linda: The ADGM Arbitration Centre will be located in Al Maqam Tower on Al Maryah Island. The towers in ADGM are Grade A office space, which allows us to design and provide outstanding hearing facilities.

The centre will have one large hearing room, a medium hearing room and two other hearing/conference rooms that can be configured to accommodate parties’ needs. All hearing rooms will be equipped with advanced technology, including video-conferencing facilities and access to technology assisted trial software (e.g. electronic bundles). All break-out rooms will have IT facilities that will enable video-conferencing and accommodate the IT needs of the parties.

The design of the centre has been carefully focused on some of the most important requirements of the arbitration community, including, advanced and reliable IT, comfortable light, and functionally equipped hearing and break-out rooms, electronic booking and enquiry services and special attention to confidentiality. Parties will also have access to the outstanding training and education facilities offered by the ADGM Training Academy.

With its prime location and office space, as well as the availability of numerous categories of first rate amenities, including hotels and restaurants, all of which are within easy walking distance of the centre, we believe the centre will cater very well to the needs and requirements of the arbitration community.

Michael: How will the ICC and ADGM collaborate through the new representative office in Abu Dhabi?

Linda: In establishing its MENA representative office in ADGM, the ICC and ADGM have now made available to parties based in Abu Dhabi, the UAE and the region easy and convenient access to the ICC’s administrative functions. These include lodging Requests for Arbitration and making payment of the ICC’s registration fee for parties commencing ICC-administered arbitrations seated in ADGM or elsewhere. We will also be collaborating on events of interest to the dispute resolution community and on tailored training and education courses to be held in ADGM.

Michael: What types of services do the ADGM courts have in place to complement arbitrations that take place at the ADGM?

Linda: There are various measures in place to ensure that ADGM Courts, with its pro-arbitration bench of outstanding judges from leading common law jurisdictions, will support and complement ADGM-based arbitrations. These include:

  • Interim measures issued by an arbitral tribunal are to be recognised as binding and enforceable upon application to ADGM Courts;
  • All arbitration-related proceedings are to be heard in closed court with limited, if any, publication of information relating to the arbitration proceedings;
  • An arbitral award within the meaning of the Regulations shall be enforced within ADGM as if it were a judgment of the Court; and
  • All of ADGM Courts powers in respect of the enforcement of judgments shall apply to the enforcement of arbitral awards as prescribed under the Regulations.

In addition, parties will have the benefit of the arrangements entered into between ADGM Courts and other jurisdictions for the mutual recognition and enforcement of judgments and arbitral awards.

ADGM Courts have to date entered into MoUs with Abu Dhabi Judiciary Department, the UAE Ministry of Justice, the Commercial Court of England and Wales, the Supreme Court of Singapore, the Federal Court of Australia, the Supreme Court of New South Wales and the High Court of Hong Kong. There are more MoUs to come with jurisdictions that are integral to international commerce.

Michael: With the upcoming launch of both the ICC office and the arbitration centre, what you expect to happen in the short term and in the long term at the ADGM in relation to arbitration?

Linda: In the short term, we anticipate a steady and increasing volume of arbitration hearings and mediations will be held in ADGM rather than in other parts of the world, particularly for ICC-administered arbitrations.

In the long term, we expect ADGM will earn a strong reputation as a leading global arbitration jurisdiction.

Michael: How long do you expect it will take before the arbitration centre begins to receive arbitrations?

Linda: We expect the ADGM Arbitration Centre to be operational in the first quarter of 2018.

Michael: Are there any other future developments at the ADGM that you can tell us about? Specifically the arbitration centre?

Linda: There will be many more developments at ADGM in arbitration and dispute resolution generally over the coming months. As always, we remain committed to responding to market needs and requirements and to developing creative options for the business and investment communities.

We urge those who are interested and wish to keep in touch, to subscribe to email alerts via https://www.adgm.com/registerforupdates/  http://www.hadefpartners.com/.


This article, including any advice, commentary or recommendation herein, is provided on a complimentary basis without consideration of any specific objectives, circumstances or facts. It reflects the views of the writer which may, in some cases, differ from those of the firm, especially in the developing jurisdiction of the UAE.