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FAQs

 

What is a small claim?

A small claim is any commercial claim under AED 500,000.  It also relates to small claims for employment and property within the DIFC.  For example, if you have a dispute with your contractor for AED 150,000 you can use the DIFC Small Claims Tribunal.

How is the DIFC Courts Small Claims Tribunal different from the Dubai Courts?

The DIFC Courts Small Claims Tribunal is located within the DIFC Free Zone and operates under English common law.  It does not hear criminal claims.  The DIFC Courts SCT covers all commercial contracts, but not employment or property claims outside of the DIFC.

Do I need to be in DIFC to use the DIFC Courts Small Claims Tribunal?

No.  The SCT can be used in all commercial contracts, even for entities that operate outside of the DIFC and the UAE.  Both parties must have the DIFC Courts jurisdiction contract clause in their contract, or can agree in writing to use the SCT at the time of a dispute.

Do I need a lawyer?

No. The SCT is lawyer free where both parties represent themselves. The primary purpose of the consultation is to allow parties to attempt to resolve their dispute, and all consultations will be conducted in private unless otherwise direct by the SCT Judge.

How does the DIFC Courts SCT work?

Once a claim is lodged, the SCT Registry Officer will contact both parties for a consultation.  The consultation is the first part of the process where both parties meet in person or attend via the Smart SCT to discuss the case and try to reach a settlement.  If no settlement is made, the case progresses to a hearing where an SCT Judge will hear the case and make a judgement.

How are the judgements enforced?

The normal way- an SCT Court Order is enforceable like any DIFC Court Order.  Please refer to the DIFC Courts Enforcement Guidelines for information regarding the enforcement of your judgement in DIFC, Dubai Courts, and outside of the UAE.

How can I lodge a small claim?

In order to lodge a small claim, the claimant must submit a P53/01 form to the Registry. The form is available on the Courts’ website: www.difccourts.ae. The DIFC Courts’ Registry will serve the claim form on the defendant.

What must I provide when lodging a claim?

The SCT requires the claimant to provide both the claimant’s and defendant’s full contact information to include name, address and any other available contact information. If the defendant is a company, the claimant shall provide proof of address where, to the best of his or her knowledge, the officers of the company may be found.

The claimant must set out in, or attach to, the claim form a statement summarising the remedy sought and the claimant’s reasons for claiming that he or she is entitled to that remedy. The claimant must include the claim form a statement of the monetary value of the small claim. If the claim is employment-related, a photocopy of the employment contract and/or offer letter is required along with all other necessary or relevant documents.

A step-by-step guide is available at: www.sct.difcourts.ae

Who must attend the consultation?

Parties must represent themselves at the consultation and may not be represented by a lawyer.  Parties can attend in person or remotely via the Smart SCT. A party may be represented by a non-lawyer with a power of attorney if necessary.

If the party is a company or corporation, any full-time officer or employee with the authority to make decisions on behalf of that company may represent it at the consultation.

The representative must provide a letter of authorisation at the start of the consultation. All persons appearing at a consultation must provide an identification card or passport.

What if I cannot attend on the date set for consultation?

Each party should inform the SCT Registry of any dates on which it is unable to attend a consultation. If the consultation has been fixed and either party is unable to attend, it needs to inform the SCT Registry immediately and provide a valid reason for rescheduling.

Parties can also attend remotely via the Smart SCT.

What if I fail to attend the consultation?

If a party fails to attend a consultation, the SCT Judge may i) decide the small claim against that party or ii) adjourn the consultation. If neither party attends a consultation, the SCT Judge may i) dismiss the claim or ii) adjourn the consultation.

If a party is not present or represented in consultation, and the claim has been decided against it, the party may apply for the order to be set aside and the claim reinstated. The party must make the application for this order no more than seven days after the day on which the notice of the order was served on it. The claim may only be reinstated if i) the party presents a good reason for not attending the consultation and ii) the claim had real prospect of success. If the claim is reinstated, the SCT will fix a new date for consultation.

What is the process of the hearing?

The hearing will be informal and private, unless ordered otherwise by the SCT Judge. The SCT Judge may adopt any method of proceeding at a hearing that he considers to be fair.

Who must attend the hearing?

Parties must represent their own case at a hearing and may not be represented by a lawyer. Parties can attend in person or remotely via the Smart SCT. If the party is a company or corporation, any full-time officer or employee with the authority to make decisions on behalf of that company may represent it at the consultation. The parties can be represented by a non-lawyer if necessary. In exceptional cases, the SCT Judge may allow parties to be legally represented.

What if I fail to attend the hearing?

A party who was not present at a hearing may apply to set a judgment aside and have the claim re-heard. This request may only be granted if i) the applicant had a good reason for not attending the hearing and ii) the applicant had a real prospect of success at the hearing. Following the grant of such a request, the SCT Registry must fix a new hearing for the claim.

Can I withdraw my claim?

A party who was not present at a hearing may apply to set a judgment aside and have the claim re-heard. This request may only be granted if i) the applicant had a good reason for not attending the hearing and ii) the applicant had a real prospect of success at the hearing. Following the grant of such a request, the SCT Registry must fix a new hearing for the claim.

Can the claim be transferred to the Court of First Instance?

Where appropriate, the SCT Judge may order that a small claim be transferred to the Court of First Instance (CFI). Further information can be found in RDC Part 53.37 available at www.difccourts.ae, for specific instances when a small claim may be re-allocated.

Are witness statements and expert evidence permitted?

The SCT Judge will decide whether to make an order for the exchange of witness statements. No expert evidence is permitted without the SCT’s permission.

How is a date set for the consultation?

After the defendant has filed and served a defence and/or after the time for filing the defence has passed, the SCT Registery will fix a time for the parties to attend a consultation before an SCT Judge. The primary purpose of the consultation is to allow parties to attempt to resolve their dispute, and all consultations will be conducted in private unless otherwise direct by the SCT Judge. If the SCT Judge sees that the opportunity of settling without the need for a trial is likely, the SCT Judge will fix a further consultation. The second consultation will be conducted by the same SCT Judge as the first consultation.

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