The Court of First Instance under DIFC Courts had a fairly busy time of it in 2020. There were sharp increases in the claims volume as well as number of cases. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: The Court of First Instance under DIFC Courts recorded cases with combined claims of Dh9.95 billion in 2020, a sharp 72 per cent increase over 2019. Nearly 50 per cent of these cases were brought to this Court through the ‘opt-in’ clause, which allows the parties in the dispute to transfer the legal process to DIFC Courts.

In all, the DIFC took in 882 cases across all its divisions last year.

“Undoubtedly, 2020 was a year that tested the resilience of every government service, private sector business, and individual,” said Zaki Azmi, Chief Justice, DIFC Courts. “It was a year that forced everyone to re-shift focus; to reprioritise, and, to adapt to rapid changes.”

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The average case value for 2020 was Dh86.3 million at the CFI, which also includes the Technology & Construction Division (TCD) and Arbitration Division (ARB) cases. The total value of enforcement claims was Dh1.1 billion, from 248 cases.

Awareness of DIFC Courts was strengthened by “cooperation agreements” with Dubai FDI and Dubai Tourism.

“Our long-established digital infrastructure not only preserved all services to court users in 2020, but also propelled the DIFC Courts to enhance operational efficiency in managing the substantial increase in claims, assisting businesses to resolve their disputes,” Azmi added.

Big on small claims
The Small Claims Tribunal at DIFC Courts handled 466 cases in 2020, with 47 per cent of these originating from parties electing to use this legal avenue to resolve their disputes.

Cases were driven primarily by breach of contract, which represented 51 per cent, followed by employment (25 per cent), property and tenancy (16 per cent), and banking and finance (8 per cent).

The total value of claims recorded was Dh55 million.