UAE: New Year, new Arbitration Institution in Abu Dhabi

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published on 3 January 2024 | reading time approx. 2 minutes

 

In late December 2023, the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce & Industry made an official announcement regarding the imminent closure of the Abu Dhabi Commercial Conciliation and Arbitration Centre (ADCCAC) starting February 2024. The forth­coming replacement, the Abu Dhabi International Arbitration Centre, will henceforth operate under the stylized name "arbitrateAD". The institution will be headed by His Excellency Abdulla Mohamed Al Mazuri, who currently serves as the Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and will assume the position of Chairman of the Board.

   

 

 

While the specific regulations of the newly established institution are yet to be released, according to the Chamber, all ongoing proceedings under the ADCCAC's jurisdiction will continue to be overseen by ADCCAC itself. However, effective 1 February 2024, parties wishing to commence proceedings should registered these with the Abu Dhabi International Arbitration Centre. These arbitrations will be administered under the new regulatory framework of arbitrateAD. 
 
It is anticipated that complex legal issues could arise in relation to the shift to arbitrateAD, and that there may be challenges that will need to be finally determined by the courts of the arbitral seat and/or during enforcement proceedings. Parties currently bound by existing contracts referring disputes to ADCCAC are advised to carefully assess the implications of transitional arrangements yet to be issued, including any arbitration clauses of existing or newly drafted contracts or amendments. 
 
Pending the publication of the official rules, it remains uncertain whether arbitrateAD will designate Abu Dhabi or possibly Abu Dhabi Global Market as its default seat of arbitration should parties fail to agree on a specific seat. This is analogous to the new DIAC rules, which provide for Dubai International Financial Centre as seat in these circumstances. Additionally, the potential establishment of a formal association between arbitrateAD and the ADGM Arbitration Centre is yet to be determined.
 
The introduction of arbitrateAD marks the latest development in a series of recent modifications to the arbitration landscape not only in the UAE, but the entire Middle East. Considering the ADCCAC rules were last updated in 2013, this recent transition presents a promising opportunity to advance the practice of arbitration in Abu Dhabi.

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