Effective 1 February 2024 the Abu Dhabi International Arbitration Centre (ArbitrateAD) replaced the Abu Dhabi Commercial Conciliation and Arbitration Centre (ADCCAC).

As part of the implementation of the new centre, new arbitration rules have also been introduced (ArbitrateAD Arbitration Rules 2024).

The ArbitrateAD Rules replace the existing rules of the ADCCAC. The rationale is to provide a more efficient and effective arbitration process, which can not only align with international standards but challenge other arbitration centres on an international scale.

Key takeaways from the ArbitrateAD Rules

  1. The ArbitrateAD Rules will apply to all new arbitrations commenced on or after 1 February 2024 (this will be the case in instances where the parties' arbitration agreement provides for either the ADCCAC or the ArbitrateAD Rules to be applied).

  2. Existing arbitrations which are ongoing will continue to be administered under the previous ADCCAC rules and will be governed by those rules.

  3. Where agreements refer to the ADCCAC rules, the ArbitrateAD Rules which relate to appointment of emergency arbitrators and expedited proceedings will only apply if the parties expressly agree as such.

  4. For disputes with a value up to AED 9 million, there will be an expedited procedure which will apply as a matter of default. Positively, ArbitrateAD can apply this expedited procedure for disputes which exceed this upper ceiling or alternatively disapply the expedited procedure if the parties agree or ArbitrateAD makes a direction affording the parties an opportunity to be heard.

  5. The default seat of arbitration has been selected as the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM). Parties are free to agree upon the seat of arbitration, failing which the default will be the Abu Dhabi Global Market. Notwithstanding this, ArbitrateAD's Court of Arbitration will have the power to ultimately decide the seat having regard to the parties' own views and the overall circumstances. The ADGM is what is known within the United Arab Emirates as a financial free zone, which has a legal and regulatory framework that is based upon the principles of English common law.

  6. Unlike the ADCCAC rules, the ArbitrateAD Rules allow a party to raise one single arbitration in respect of multiple claims arising out of more than one contract and/or arbitration agreement. Arguably, this will promote efficiency and streamline the process much further.

  7. Upon request to the Court parties can also ask that a third party be permitted to join the arbitration.

  8. The ArbitrateAD Rules do not specify a language to be used for proceedings. Therefore, the case management office of the court will specify the language until the tribunal is formed. This could be a potential issue with the new scheme as without having any obvious rules to govern such matters it is not clear how the court will tackle a scenario whereby there are multiple parties from multiple jurisdictions and therefore, several languages in play.

What will ArbitrateAD mean for dispute resolution in Abu Dhabi?

The introduction of ArbitrateAD is a notable addition to the global dispute resolution arena and will undoubtedly serve to promote Abu Dhabi as an attractive location to host international arbitrations.

The ArbitrateAD Rules incorporate a range of enhanced features which will positively improve the arbitration landscape in Abu Dhabi and contribute to bolstering competition in the region against other arbitration seats.

Brodies Middle East LLP looks forward to assisting clients in UAE and beyond to take advantage of this exciting new development in arbitration.

Contributors

Peter Begbie

Associate, Brodies LLP

Iain Rutherford

Partner, Brodies LLP

Hannah Clark

Solicitor, Brodies LLP