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Legal cases can be a costly exercise for any company and are undoubtedly best avoided. However, things do go wrong in all businesses and, with offshore facilities in the UAE growing exponentially, arbitration services have become necessary.

Majid bin Bashir, Chairman and Secretary General, Emirates Maritime Arbitration Centre (EMAC), says, “Arbitration, especially where contracts are cross-border, with assets held in multiple jurisdictions, is a viable avenue for dispute resolution. Arbitrators essentially are industry specialists, impartial individuals who understand the terminology, technicalities and legal complications to maritime or offshore energy cases.”

Key issues that necessitate the need for arbitration vary, but with the excellent legal framework in the UAE, the results can prove positive.

“Every contract signed presents its risks and liability, which would suggest that for litigation or arbitration, there is no one size fits all. However, in dispute management, the UAE has successfully managed to ensure that the judicial processes are fit for local businesses and the many international stakeholders that have invested in the country, onshore and within free zones,” explains Bashir.

“In the case for arbitration, seats may vary, but in a country that offers civil law or common law arbitration practices within the same borders, it means that parties continue to have comfort in the fact that they no longer need to refer contracts to overseas jurisdictions when the preference is for common law procedures. These practices and legal protections are now available right here in the UAE through the Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC) and Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM). With offices located in the heart of the DIFC, EMAC has modelled arbitration rules on international best practice.”

While the pandemic has affected many businesses and the way they operate, EMAC has effectively tackled any challenges that virtual arbitration may have posed.

Bashir suggests, “EMAC’s challenges over the last 14 months are no different than any other business. Adaptation of technology in place of the in-person access has been accelerated and this has become the immediate go-to option for communication. Business interruption has been nominal, and the centre was in the process of customising an online dispute resolution platform that works for both internal and external users.”

Whatever the future has in store, it seems that, with all the framework in place, EMAC is set to continue to support companies in free zones by making arbitration faster and more cost-effective for all types of dispute resolution.