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Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, hearings in the courts of Abu Dhabi have been postponed indefinitely & are unlikely to resume any time soon. Instead, a new online case management system has been put in place allowing parties to upload applications online & resolve disputes remotely in the Emirates. Thanks to its introduction, Abu Dhabi's courts have experienced minimal disruptions during the coronavirus pandemic & in many cases have become much more efficient.

Overall, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on dispute resolution through arbitration in the UAE is hard to underestimate. However, due to the adoption of a set of effective countermeasures, arbitration proceedings in this jurisdiction are proceeding as planned & with utmost efficiency. Currently, the government is discussing some practical strategies aimed at ensuring the smooth administration of pre-pandemic arbitration in the United Arab Emirates. 

Unfortunately, the 2015 Assistant Director-General Arbitration Regulations contain no clear guidance on how modern technology should be used in hearings & its possible impact on remote hearings. Therefore, it is the job of ad hoc bodies to analyze various data protection regimes in the UAE and come up with suggestions regarding the most suitable procedure for conduction of arbitration proceedings in the UAE. Given the increased use of modern technology in the administration of arbitration proceedings in the Emirates during the coronavirus pandemic, their research & advice may prove really useful.

Force Majeure: Disputes Arising From COVID-19

As you might expect, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a sharp increase in the number of cases involving application of force majeure provisions. For example, the Dubai Committee has recently determined that the COVID-19 pandemic constitutes valid grounds for terminating a lease if it can be conclusively proven that it has adversely affected a party seeking early termination of an agreement.

For instance, in the course of dispute resolution through arbitration in Dubai, one of the parties was unable to continue to lease property for a duration specified in the lease agreement. Hence, the relevantly authorized arbitration authority allowed the landlord to claim compensation for an early termination of the contract.

Given the force majeure circumstances, and more specifically, the coronavirus pandemic, coming up with recommended strategies that can be adopted when resolving contractual disputes in the UAE & Middle East is assuming an ever greater importance. It is also impossible not to notice the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic is making on contracts for the lease of premises, as well as the rapidly growing number of people willing to settle disputes over contractual obligations in the UAE.

UAE: Resolution of International Disputes

Resolving international disputes amid the coronavirus pandemic is just as much of a challenge as settling domestic ones. In this connection, of special importance is the recent decision made by the Court of Cassation in Qatar. According to it, the Civil & Commercial Arbitration Act won’t be applicable to arbitration proceedings arising from contracts signed before the date the said piece of legislation came into effect.

Looking to resolve a dispute by arbitration in the UAE? Need advice on arbitration regulation in the UAE? Why not contact IQ Decision UK?