17 Oct 2018

Hadef in the Courts: A successful case under the new Arbitration Law and new methods of tracing assets of a judgment debtor

Authored by: Abdulrahman Juma and Adrian Chadwick

Success under the new Arbitration Law

On 26 September 2018, the Dubai Court of Appeal issued a decision in favour of our client in nullification/annulment proceedings brought with respect to an arbitration award valued at over AED 120 million. While the judgment is appealable to the Court of Cassation, the proceedings were brought under the UAE’s new Arbitration Law (see our recent article on this here) and we are one of the first known cases to appear before the Court in respect of this new law. It is also our understanding that we are the first to successfully defeat an attempt to nullify an arbitral award under the new Arbitration Law. The proceedings were highly contentious and involved detailed legal arguments regarding the application of the relevant law during the arbitration proceedings and an analysis of nuisances within the new Arbitration Law. The decision to dismiss the nullification claim was achieved within approximately one month from the date our client was served with the claim. In the one month period we attended several hearings and exchanged at least three separate submissions. As we are also simultaneously working on the ratification of this same arbitration award, we expect that in the upcoming days the Head of the Court of Appeal will issue his decision to ratify and order the execution of this same award.


New method of tracing assets of a judgment debtor

After successfully ratifying a DIAC arbitral award for over AED 24 million (not including accruing interest) we achieved a new method by which to trace assets of a judgment debtor who claims that no company assets exist to satisfy any portion of the judgment.  In exercising reciprocity provisions within the federal law concerning the Dubai Financial Centre Courts and the Dubai Courts, we have now been able to advance a new method by which to trace a judgment debtor’s assets with the assistance of the DIFC Court. In April 2018, the Dubai Execution Court granted our application for a “Deputation Letter of Execution” delegating to the DIFC Court the ability to order all registered banks in the DIFC to provide the judgment creditor with statements, account information and the freezing of any assets found within said accounts.  After being advised by the DIFC Court that we were the first to apply for such an application and providing the Court with detailed instructions, we were able to obtain an Order of Execution demanding that 110 national and international banks directly provide the judgment creditor with full account statements for a period of over 13 years. This new method used to trace assets of a presumably absconded judgment debtor during the execution of an arbitral award from off shore and on shore UAE banks, is pivotal to the execution of arbitral awards, post-ratification, in the UAE. The method does not require a hearing or notice to the judgment debtor and was entirely cost efficient with court expenses not exceeding USD 500.


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