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On 3 April 2024, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, in his capacity as the Ruler of Dubai, issued Decree No. 29 of 2024 (the Decree) establishing the Judicial Authority for resolving Jurisdictional Conflicts between DIFC Courts and Judicial Authorities in the Emirate of Dubai (the Judicial Authority).

The new Judicial Authority replaces the Joint Judicial Committee (the JJC), which was originally established in June 2016, pursuant to Decree No. 19 of 2016, to determine conflict of jurisdiction issues arising between the Dubai International Financial Centre Courts (DIFC Courts) and the 'onshore' Dubai Courts.

The Decree was issued with a view to clarify and streamline the process surrounding jurisdictional disputes between the DIFC Courts and Dubai Courts.

The Judicial Authority's mandate is to consider jurisdictional challenges, both in determining the appropriate venue for a claim and opining on the enforceability of a judgment where conflicting judgments have been issued by both the DIFC Courts and Dubai Courts. The Judicial Authority is also to undertake any further duties as assigned by the Ruler of Dubai or the Chairperson of the Judicial Authority.

As per the Decree, the Judicial Authority shall be headed by the Chief Justice of the Dubai Court of Cassation, who is to act as Chairperson, with the Deputy Chief Justice of the DIFC Courts acting as the Deputy Chairperson.

The Secretary General of the Dubai Judicial Council, Chief Justice of the Dubai Court of Appeal, Chief Justice of the Dubai Court of First Instance, and two judges nominated by the Chief Justice of the DIFC Courts will sit as members of the Judicial Authority.

A litigant applying to the Judicial Authority is required to pay a deposit of AED 3,000, which will only be refunded if the Judicial Authority decides in the Applicant's favour. Once an application is made, the underlying proceedings are suspended pending a decision by the Judicial Authority in respect of jurisdiction and the clock will stop on any statute of limitations.

Notably, the decision of the Judicial Authority is final and binding upon the parties and there is no right to appeal. Moreover, the legal principles established in the decisions of the Judicial Authority will set precedent and be binding on both the DIFC Courts and Dubai Courts in the future.

The Decree is a significant and further step in determining jurisdictional issues between the DIFC Courts and the Dubai Courts. By creating a system of precedent, the Decree adopts a fundamental principle of common law, which will help to establish a more consistent framework for jurisdictional challenges going forward.

It is likely the Decree and Judicial Authority will to be used by certain litigants as a litigation tactic to create delay whilst the Judicial Authority issues a decision, in much the same way the JJC was used. However, the viability of the deployment of this tactic will be contextualised by the binding precedent that will exist.

The expected impact of the Decree is to provide efficient processes for litigants to resolve jurisdictional issues. For further advice on the Judicial Authority or on any matters relating to DIFC or Dubai laws, please get in touch with our UAE Dispute Resolution team.