Dubai : Economic downturns naturally lead to an increase in commercial disputes and a surge in litigation and arbitration, and this has led to increased levels of interest and use of arbitration in the UAE, particularly in the construction sector.

Several hundred new property cases were registered in the Appeals Court over the first six months of 2009. A new Dubai Mediation Centre, announced earlier this year, is a positive and proactive response to the situation by real estate regulatory bodies and will help participants settle real-estate disputes.

In support of this response, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) has announced a new accredited Mediation Training programme in Dubai, to help meet the increasing demand for mediators in real estate related disputes.

According to Andrew Goodman, Director, Rics Accredited Mediator Training, mediation is a voluntary, non-binding, and private dispute resolution process in which a trained neutral person — the mediator — helps parties to a dispute, or other impasse between them, try to reach a negotiated settlement for themselves, with or without the assistance of their own professional advisers.

"Mediation is both Sharia compliant in its philosophy and well regarded as an established international dispute resolution process," says Andrew Goodman. "Mediation is also truly voluntary, as entering the process does not bind the parties to reach settlement. In most cases mediation cannot take place unless all the parties agree to enter the process, and will cease if one party leaves the process, which they are generally free to do at any time."

A mediated settlement can only come about on the authority of the parties concerned as the mediator has no authority to make a binding determination. If a settlement is reached, the agreed terms will form part of an enforceable contract. Mediation generally provides both client and professional satisfaction in terms of speed, cost, flexibility of outcome and confidentiality.

"The role of the mediator and the confidential nature of mediation negotiations helps parties to focus on and realise their true needs and interests which may be far removed from what a court, an adjudicator or an arbitrator might ordinarily have jurisdiction to order," Goodman added.

Impartial advice

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) is an independent professional body originally established in the UK by Royal Charter. Since 1868, Rics has been committed to setting and upholding the highest standards of excellence and integrity — providing impartial, authoritative advice on key issues affecting businesses and society.

Rics is a regulator of both its individual members and firms enabling it to maintain the highest standards and providing the basis for unparalleled client confidence in the sector.