Evolution of arbitration in Dubai

By Ishita Shome, Afridi & Angell

The legal system in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – a federation of seven emirates formed in 1971 – is still at a nascent stage and arbitration has only recently become a popular mechanism for dispute resolution. In order to fully appreciate the significance of the recent developments in arbitration in the UAE it is important to have a historical perspective.

Early challenges

Prior to the adoption of the Civil Procedure Code (UAE Code) in the UAE in 1992, the judges and lawyers in the courts in Dubai, regularly applied procedures and even laws from their own home countries.

The UAE Code included the first statutory recognition of arbitration and included a chapter on arbitration. This chapter, among other things, provided a section which stated that the parties to a contract may stipulate that any dispute between them shall be referred to arbitration. It also stated that, if parties had agreed to refer a dispute to arbitration, no suit may be filed before the courts.

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Ishita Shome is a paralegal in the Dubai office of Afridi & Angell, a UAE based law firm. She can be contacted at ishita@afridi-angell.com. Afridi & Angell has offices in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah.


Level 35 – Emirates Towers

Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai

P.O. Box 9371

United Arab Emirates

Tel: +971 4 330 3900

Fax: +971 4 330 3800

Email: dubai@afridi-angell.com

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