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On 12 to 16 November 2017, the DIFC-LCIA Arbitration Centre hosted the Dubai Arbitration Week 2017, with various conferences, symposia, and networking events lined up. The event was also organized by Members of Baker McKenzie Habib Al Mulla’s UAE Arbitration team. In key events, including the Young MENA Groups conference, the Dubai International Arbitration Centre (DIAC) Arbitration Rules launch event, and the Fourth Annual Global Arbitration Live Dubai, important developments were presented and discussed.

One of the highlights of the week, if not the most significant, was the announcement by DIAC of the new DIAC 2018 Arbitration Rules. As Chairman of the Board of Trustees of DIAC, Dr. Habib Al Mulla along with other speakers, presented the changes and developments in the DIAC Arbitration Rules, including the introduction of the following provisions:

  • The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) as the default seat for arbitration proceedings governed by the DIAC Rules;
  • Awards to be deemed to have been rendered at the seat of arbitration regardless of where they were physically signed;
  • Creation of a Secretariat which will administer and scrutinize draft awards;
  • Application for urgent interim relief by way of appointing an emergency arbitrator;
  • Application for expedited arbitral proceedings, with the award to be made within three months of referral;
  • Tribunal’s power to sanction the parties and/or counsel in case of misconduct by counsel;
  • Introduction of Multiple Contracts, Consolidation and Joinders in a single arbitration;
  • Awards to be made public with the consent of the parties or the decision of the DIAC;
  • Collaboration between parties and co-arbitrators with DIAC in the default process of appointing a sole arbitrator;
  • Disclosure of third party funding;
  • Recoverability of legal fees and the Tribunal’s power to award legal costs;
  • A list of qualified arbitrators to accommodate Shari’ah compliant arbitrations; and
  • Exclusion of liability of tribunal members and the DIAC in connection with the arbitration.

In addition, Celine Kanakri spoke about the changes to the appointment and challenge of arbitrators under the new DIAC Rules, which include (amongst others) the alternative appointment procedure of selecting a sole arbitrator. Sally Kotb also discussed the developments on the issuance and enforcement of DIAC awards, which are expected to be enhanced as a result of the DIFC being identified as the new default seat under the DIAC Rules.

As of to date, the draft rules have not been circulated and the new DIAC Rules are expected to be enacted in the first quarter of 2018.


Sally Kotb is a counsel in Baker McKenzie's Dubai office. She has been practising in the Middle East for over 11 years. Sally has wide-ranging experience in all types of international commercial arbitration, having acted as advising counsel and arbitrator under most leading institutional arbitration rules including the ICC, DIAC, CRCICA, ADCCAC, DIFC-LCIA in both English and Arabic.