More claims are being heard at DIFC Courts through the 'opt-in' procedure that was allowed. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Employment issues, breaches of contracts and tenancy problems were the main disputes heard by the Small Claims Tribunal at DIFC Courts during the first six months of 2021, with 201 cases totaling Dh20 million in claims.

The cases were heard and verdicts delivered through the first ever use of the ‘Smart SCT’ virtual court format. This led to over 64 per cent of claims registered originating from parties selecting the SCT as their preferred method for dispute resolution.

Zaki Azmi, Chief Justice of DIFC Courts, said: “We continue our drive towards full digital transformation and equipping our court users with the most advanced tools, creating legal security and certainty for businesses in an era of technological disruption. By combining a flexible digital infrastructure with judicial and service excellence, the DIFC Courts now represents the new benchmark for international commercial courts.”

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Full on digital

The DIFC Courts have made a full-scale transition to digital means. With 100 per cent of hearings taking place remotely through digital platforms, “court users have greater choice and flexibility across core service offerings, ensuring more expedient access to justice,” a statement said.

First court
In the first six months of 2021, the DIFC Courts became the first in the UAE to acquire the qualified electronic seal solution 'Ethaq'. This is a paperless initiative that enables digital authenticity of documents with the support of UAE PASS, the national digital identity platform.

The volume of cases in the Court of First Instance (CFI) increased 11 per cent in 2021 from 2020. The value of claims registered with the Court amounted to Dh2.8 billion, an increase of 27 per cent year-on-year, with an average case value of Dh56.9 million. Cases within the Arbitration Division under the CFI also recorded an increase of 36 per cent in 2021. The value of claims across all divisions amounted to Dh3.4 billion.

There was also an increase in ‘opt-in’ cases, with 50 per cent of claims at CFI from parties ‘electing’ to use the DIFC Courts to resolve their disputes.