Looking into the future... Dubai Courts is preempting possible future disputes related to space exploration and more. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Got legal issues about Space? Not the property kind, but the universal space.

Then DIFC Courts could provide the solution. It has set up an international working group to look at potential outcomes related to space-related disputes. This follows the launch of the Courts of Space initiative in February. For the working group, DIFC (Dubai International Financial centre) Courts has tied up with Dubai Future Foundation.

The launch of the Working Group project is a "signal to the international community" by DIFC Courts in advancing its "judicial systems to specifically direct capacity and capability to commercial space-related disputes". In recent weeks, the UAE has doubled the size of its astronaut corps with the selection of two new astronauts, including the first woman, who will train at NASA, starting later this year.

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In statement, Zaki Azmi, Chief Justice of DIFC Courts, said: “While space law is nothing new, an important next step will be for the Courts of Space initiative to develop and establish the DIFC Courts as a commercial go-to court for these matters. This is a complex and tall order, but it’s well within Dubai’s reach as the UAE develops its own space-faring ambitions and becomes one of very few countries to have reached Mars.”

The 17-member Working Group will have observers from The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs.

“For the time being, the Working Group will discuss more current space dispute issues such as equipment failures, space cargo disputes, or even failure to deliver components on time," said Amna Al Owais, Chief Registrar, DIFC Courts. "It might include substandard materials or design faults.

"Space courts resolution might be required as satellites collide or impact a spacecraft. At the same time, we will need to wear our sci-fi hats, imagine, and develop futuristic scenarios to better understand the kinds of cases that might emerge in this relatively novel environment.

"For example, lunar exploration and space resources activity are likely to become more concentrated in the coming years, as well as space tourism and exploration. Space courts would be called upon to adjudicate on responsibility, damages, and liabilities, as is the case with any commercial dispute.”

What's Courts of Space about?
Courts of Space will have a further two main objectives.

A Space Dispute Guide will be issued, with a set of guidelines. Another will involve the training of judges to become space-related dispute experts after having received courses on space regulations by international bodies and regional agencies.