Legal professionals understand the law is constantly evolving. The UAE, and specifically, the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department (ADJD), continually adjusts its legal and judicial systems to positively impact residents and to encourage growth and investment.
ADJD’s new Strategic Plan for 2021-2023, approved by Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Presidential Affairs, and President of ADJD, reflects the continued commitment to these objectives.
The plan, as described by Youssef Saeed Al Abri, Under-Secretary of ADJD, is structured around four strategic priorities aimed at ensuring sustainability and business continuity in a prospective way.
The first strategic priority, “supporting judicial specialisation and ensuring quality for court decisions and Public Prosecution activities,” is intended to increase global confidence in the Emirate’s judicial system.
The second priority aims to “ensure sustainability and business continuity by setting forward-looking objectives based on geographical and digital spread, which allows for various possibilities of access to the services of the Judicial Department, especially in the light of the current changes in the judicial procedures.”
The third priority will be to “ensure customer happiness by providing smart and innovative legal and judicial services.” This will be based on launching innovative programmes, plans, and projects to provide international class services.
Presence in international judicial arena
The fourth priority will be to “strengthen ADJD’s participation and presence in the international judicial arena.” Its aim will be to consolidate ADJD’s role in cooperation with its partners in maintaining the security and stability of society — whether in terms of awareness, legislation, or deterrence of crimes that affect the social structure, as well as to work with its international partners and adapt the best judicial practices.
UAE leaders and ADJD understand that the UAE’s legal structure must evolve in conjunction with the implementation of the country’s ambitious economic plans and continue to set legal and judicial standards designed to make the country more attractive to foreign investment. The UAE has adroitly instituted numerous regulations designed to bolster the country’s global standing while adhering to its historic and religious principles and foundations.
ADJD, Abu Dhabi’s central judicial body, has steadily introduced, and implemented significant changes designed to embrace the legislature’s actions and funnel these actions to the populace.
Major among these actions are the creation of a bilingual court; the implementation of English as a second language in the court; changes in the rules of procedure; and requiring forms be translated before filing, thereby improving non-Arabic speaking litigants’ access to justice, and assuring clarity.
Resolving commercial disputes
DJD’s First Instance Court’s newly created Foreign Experts Chamber continues to develop and operate as an English-speaking, world-class court, providing a flexible and modern judicial environment with English speaking United States, British, and Emirati judges in which to resolve commercial disputes facing domestic and foreign entities.
Changes to the Civil Procedure Code provide for additional transparency. Expanding the jurisdiction of the aforementioned Foreign Expert Chamber by eliminating the previously imposed jurisdictional minimum, creating another chamber consisting of Cassation, Appellate, and First Instance Court Judges, and implementing initiatives to assist residents and investors with commercial disputes as well as to improve access to justice, serve as examples.
The legal and judicial environment in Abu Dhabi is constantly evolving to enable more transparency and greater access to justice. As highlighted above, this is being achieved by utilising technological advances and employing ambitious, intelligent, and driven individuals, from UAE citizens to legal experts from around the globe.
Oran F. Whiting (Ret.) is the First Instance Court Judge at the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department