DUBAI: The Emirates Maritime Arbitration Centre (EMAC) — the first of its kind in the region — was launched at the Dubai Maritime Summit on Wednesday.
The centre will enable disputes previously heard in arbitration centres in London, New York, or one of a handful of other specialist centres to be heard locally, executive committee member Edward Newitt, a partner at lawyers Stephenson Harwood, said in a phone interview.
“There are a lot of arbitration centres worldwide, but there are very few that specifically relate to maritime disputes,” he said.
Newitt said he expected a slow start for EMAC, pointing out that it took several years for the Dubai International Arbitration Centre to become established. Until firms entered contracts listing it as the dispute authority, the only cases it would be heard would be by mutual agreement.
“A couple of disputes even in the first year would be a good start,” he said. “We just trying to continue building, adding on parts, to the marine infrastructure. Dubai has amazing maritime infrastructure. This is really a complementary service that we’re adding for traders and people in the region.”
EMAC will be based in Dubai International Finance Centre, which will provide enforcement for the arbitration decisions. In addition to formal arbitration the centre will provide mediation and other dispute-resolution services, and will increase awareness of maritime issues.
The non-profit centre was ordered by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in a decree in April, and has been launched under the patronage of Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai.
“Marine disputes come in any manner of shapes and sizes,” Newitt said. “It’s based on the contracts, usually with some form of charter party, and there are many different types of charters.
“Different types of disputes can arise. We would also look at traders’ disputes, over misdelivery of cargo possibly or damage to cargo and things like that.”