Wednesday, 27 May 2009

DIFC courts to implement professional code of conduct

Sir Anthony Evans, Chief Justice of the DIFC Courts

A press release from the DIFC Courts in Dubai, 27 May 09. But first, some background:

Q: What are the DIFC Courts?
A: The DIFC (Dubai International Financial Centre) Courts is an independent court system set up to uphold the provisions of DIFC laws and regulations. They provide the protection of an English language, common law court system, with an internationally renowned bench of judges versed in commercial disputes, to ensure transparent and efficient justice in civil and commercial matters in or relating to the Centre. The overriding objective of the DIFC Courts is to deal with cases justly and swiftly and to help parties settle cases. Designed to deal specifically with the sophisticated transactions conducted within the DIFC, the DIFC Courts provide comprehensive legal redress in civil and commercial matters. Along with offering the highest standards in legal dispute resolution and a judicial system based on international best practices, DIFC Courts provide a small claims tribunal which is unique in the region. In January 2008, DIFC Courts appointed the first female judge in the UAE and announced that two Emirati judges had become common law International Judges. The DIFC Courts were established under laws enacted by The Late His Highness Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai in September 2004. The DIFC Courts are an independent judicial system which has jurisdiction over matters arising from and within the DIFC. The DIFC Courts were established under two new laws enacted by His Highness Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai. Dubai Law No. 12 of 2004 established the Judicial Authority at the DIFC and sets out the jurisdiction of the court and allows for the independent administration of justice in the DIFC. The laws establishing the DIFC Courts are designed to ensure the highest international standards of legal procedure thus ensuring that the DIFC Courts provide the certainty, flexibility and efficiency expected by the global institutions operating within the DIFC.

The DIFC Courts, the Dubai International Financial Centre's (DIFC) independent, common law judicial system, is today publishing for consultation a Code of Conduct for its professional users. This is one of the first codes of its kind in the region, which stipulates a standard of conduct with which all legal practitioners must comply. All lawyers registered with the English-language, DIFC Courts will be required to act with the upmost integrity and independence, in support of the Court and the communities it serves, or be sanctioned, per the guidelines.

The Code is another step towards ensuring the highest standards of integrity, efficiency and justice and to ensure all parties to a dispute have access to lawyers committed to professional standards of advocacy. Compliance with the code will ensure that cases heard in the Courts are conducted in a timely and proficient manor and that all parties can be sure of receiving fair and consistent representation. The rules focus on six areas: the Courts' Governing Principles, duties owed to the Courts, duties owed to clients, duties owed to other Practitioners, general duties and sanctions for breach of the Code.

Sir Anthony Evans, Chief Justice of the DIFC Courts said: "As part of the DIFC Courts' ongoing commitment to providing swift and transparent justice for the DIFC community, the implementation of the code of conduct will ensure that all cases heard at the DIFC Courts are done so to the highest international standards of professionalism, fairness and integrity."

"The introduction of this Code is yet another example of the development of justice systems in the region and reaffirms the DIFC Courts' dedication to international best practice."

Mark Beer, Registrar said: "Lawyers with varying qualifications and professional backgrounds, from a mix of up to 94 different nationalities are representing clients in UAE courts. The DIFC Courts' Code for Professional Conduct will guarantee that all practitioners dealing with the DIFC Courts operate to the highest standards to ensure transparent, swift and accessible justice."

Philip Punwar, a lawyer with at Al Tamimi & Company, who spearheaded the sub-committee of the DIFC Courts Users Committee that helped draft the code, said: ""The Code was drafted to reflect professional conduct rules that are recognised across the Civil and Common Law world.

They particularly emphasise the duties advocates and attorneys owe to the Court and to the administration of justice generally. The Code also sets out a range of duties that are owed to clients and to other DIFC Court Practitioners, as well as a range of sanctions for their breach.

Although the drafters had access to a range of previously published Codes of Legal Conduct, the present draft is wholly original and specific to practice before the DIFC Court"

The Code has been posted on the DIFC Courts website,, for a consultation period, running until June 30 2009. The public are invited to comment on the additions to the Rules during this period and all comments can be sent to

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