Dubai’s DIFC Courts have been recognised by the world’s largest organisation of court management professionals for their work to improve access to justice through the application of technology.
The DIFC Courts’ new Smart Small Claims Tribunal (SCT), which enables parties to access justice from anywhere in the world, was selected as a one of the year’s Top 10 Court Technology Solutions at the annual National Association for Court Management (NACM) awards in Washington, DC.
Collecting the award in Washington, DC, Mark Beer, OBE, co–Chief Executive and Registrar General of the DIFC Courts, said: “From the outset, the DIFC Courts have recognised that technology has the power to transform the court experience by making the process as fast, efficient and user-friendly as possible. Over the years we have pioneered many technological firsts and we are proud to continue setting new standards for digital excellence. Our Smart SCT solves a real problem for individuals and small businesses both in the UAE and beyond, and helps to improve access to justice by enabling people to use the court wherever there is a broadband connection.”
Kevin Bowling, NACM Past President and Co-Chair of the Joint Technology Committee, said: “For Dubai International Financial Centre's English language common law Courts, innovation is a powerful driver for their ambition of leading the commercial court sector. Recognising that parties to commercial disputes are often on the move - especially SMEs - and need quick access to a court for rapid settlement wherever they may be, DIFC Courts smart Small Claims Tribunal harnesses technology to connect, mediate, and where necessary, deliver judgment. This is proof positive of the belief that courts of the future should be fully connected and completely accessible.”
The DIFC Courts established the region’s first small claims tribunal in 2007 to handle lower value cases in a private, informal setting. Because claims are smaller and often less complex, SCT hearings take place without lawyers, with the emphasis on finding an amicable solution that works for both parties. In 2016, three quarters of all SCT cases were settled within four weeks.
Building on this success, the DIFC Courts identified a need to serve an increasingly mobile population and a busy business community that travels extensively. Launched in October 2016, the Smart SCT is equipped with video conferencing and case management technology that enables individuals or small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to participate in hearings from anywhere in the world. Previously, parties in dispute and a judge needed to be present during hearings. With the new technology, however, all parties concerned, such as business owners on the move, tenants who have departed from the UAE, and employees both in and out of Dubai with contract issues, are able to resolve their disputes by remotely attending their consultations and hearings.
Established in 1985 and headquartered in Williamsburg, Virginia, the NACM brings together a membership of 1,700 court management professionals from the United States, Canada, Australia, and other countries, to improve the administration of justice. The annual Top 10 Court Technology Solutions Awards honour were established to recognise courts that have best utilised technology to improve court services and access to the public.
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Email: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.comAbout the DIFC Courts
The UAE’s DIFC Courts administer a unique English-language common law system – offering swift, independent justice to settle local and international commercial or civil disputes. The Courts, based in Dubai, provide certainty through transparent, enforceable judgments from internationally-recognised judges, who adhere to the highest global legal standards. The DIFC Courts are independent from, but complementary to, the UAE’s Arabic-language civil law system – offering a choice that strengthens both processes while ensuring public access to world-class justice.
In October 2011, a decree of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, opened the DIFC Courts’ jurisdiction to businesses from all across the GCC region and beyond to provide the international business community with access to one of the most advanced commercial courts in the world.
The DIFC Courts were established under laws enacted by the late HH Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai in September 2004. The laws establishing the DIFC Courts are designed to ensure that the DIFC Courts provide the certainty, flexibility and efficiency expected by Court users. Nearly 1,180 cases have been resolved through the DIFC Courts since 2008, while over 90% of Small Claims Tribunal cases are concluded within three weeks. The Courts’ community-focused approach encourages early settlement, while their successful track record supports Dubai’s growing status as an international business hub.
In line with HH Sheikh Mohammed’s vision, the DIFC Courts serve to develop the UAE national workforce and enhance the competitiveness of Emirati advocates. The DIFC Courts are spearheading training programmes predominantly aimed at local Emirati lawyers, which offer knowledge of, and qualifications in, the English-language common law system.