The New UAE Arbitration Law: an incremental shift towards international norms

by White & Case LLP

White & Case LLP

The UAE has taken a significant step towards making commercial arbitration a more appealing dispute resolution mechanism for companies conducting business in the UAE and the broader GCC region. The newly enacted Federal Arbitration Law is likely to offer an attractive solution to some of the problems facing UAE-seated arbitrations in recent years; however, the practical effect of the new law remains to be seen.

A Long-Awaited Change

Whispers of a new arbitration law have been circulating since the UAE acceded to the New York Convention in 2006. Until very recently, the laws governing UAE-seated arbitrations were set out at Articles 203 - 218 of Chapter 3 of the UAE Civil Procedure Code ("CPC"). These provisions only briefly dealt with the key issues concerning arbitration, which often resulted in unpredictability of outcomes at the time of enforcement of arbitral awards.

On 13 May 2018, Federal Law No. 6 of 2018 ("UAE Federal Arbitration Law") was ratified by the UAE Supreme Council and was signed by the President of the UAE, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

The position under Article 61 of the UAE Federal Arbitration Law is that it comes into force one month from the publication date in the Official Gazette. In accordance with Article 59 of the UAE Federal Arbitration Law, the new law will apply to all arbitration proceedings, including those that were initiated prior to the new law coming into force. Any arbitration proceedings that have been conducted in accordance with the provisions of the previous law shall remain valid.

The UNCITRAL Model Law

The UNCITRAL Model Law was prepared to provide States with a framework of national arbitration and to unify the law of international arbitration. The Model Law covers all stages of the arbitral process and clearly sets out the scope of the curial court’s powers to intervene in the arbitral process. A key feature of the Model Law is that it sets out the rules for recognition and enforcement of arbitral awards (Article 35) and the grounds for refusing recognition or enforcement (Article 36), based on those listed in Article V of the New York Convention. The Model Law therefore represents an international benchmark for arbitration legislation.

Legislation based on the Model Law has been adopted in not less than 80 States in a total of 111 jurisdictions, including prominent arbitration jurisdictions such as Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United States of America; and regionally in Bahrain, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Oman, reflecting the international nature and adaptability of the law.

Whilst the UAE Federal Arbitration Law is largely based on the UNCITRAL Model Law, as we discuss below, several modifications have been made which echo the previous technical requirements set out in the CPC.

The UAE Federal Arbitration Law

The UAE Federal Arbitration Law consists of 61 articles, and pursuant to Article 2 the law applies to:

  • arbitrations seated in the UAE, unless the parties have agreed that the proceedings should be subject to another arbitration law, providing such other law does not conflict with notions of public order or morals of the UAE (Article 2(1));
  • international arbitrations seated outside of the UAE where the parties have agreed to subject the proceedings to the UAE Federal Arbitration Law (Article 2(2)); and
  • arbitrations which arise out of a dispute relating to a legal, contractual or non-contractual, relationship which is governed by the laws inside the UAE, unless specified otherwise (Article 2(3)).

The UAE Federal Arbitration Law does not apply to certain financial free zones in the UAE, for example, the DIFC and ADGM, which are exempt from the application of UAE civil and commercial federal laws pursuant to Federal Law No. 8 of 2004. These financial free zones have independent laws governing arbitrations seated in those jurisdictions.

One of the most important changes under the new law is that it grants the Court power to issue interim measures in relation to the arbitration proceedings and to intervene in the arbitration process if, for example, the appointment process fails. The section on enforcement in the UAE Federal Arbitration Law is modelled on the New York Convention with modifications reflecting the requirements that existed under the CPC. There are now also strict time limits for enforcement procedures which are expected to simplify and expedite the process of enforcement. For example, the Court is now required to authenticate, approve and execute an award within 60 days from the date the request for enforcement of the award is filed, unless the Court is satisfied that a reason for annulment exists under Article 53 of the UAE Federal Arbitration Law.

The UAE Federal Arbitration Law builds on the previous arbitration law and seeks to address those areas which were commonly abused by award debtors to resist enforcement of an award under the CPC. Examples include:

  • Capacity to agree arbitration – The CPC previously provided under Article 203(4) that "[a]n arbitration agreement may be made only by the parties who are legally entitled to dispose of the disputed right." Article 4(1) of the UAE Federal Arbitration Law states in similar terms that the signatory must have the requisite "capacity or the eligibility to dispose of the rights...[o]therwise, the agreement shall be deemed null and void"1.

Article 58(2) of the CPC, which has not been repealed, states that "[n]o admission or waiver of a right alleged or settlement or submission to arbitration…or any other disposition in respect of which the law requires special authorisation may be made without special authority".

In several Court of Cassation judgments, "special authority" was held to mean an express authority to agree arbitration, usually in the form of a Power of Attorney or Board Resolution except in the case of a General Manager listed on the trade licence of an LLC who is deemed to have the authority to agree arbitration. It remains to be seen whether the new provisions of the UAE Federal Arbitration Law will be read together with the existing provisions of the CPC, or if the UAE Court’s will dispense with the need for express or special authority to agree arbitration.

In the case of non-UAE incorporated companies, the wording of Article 53(1)(c) of the UAE Federal Arbitration Law, which deals with the grounds to challenge the validity of an arbitration award, suggests that when determining if a party representative is "legally entitled to dispose of the disputed right", consideration will be given to the law which governs such party. In other words, if one of the parties to the arbitration agreement is incorporated in the United Kingdom, the laws applicable in the United Kingdom will be applied to determine the authority of the company representative to bind the company to arbitration.

  • The oath – The CPC previously provided at Article 211 that "arbitrators shall cause the witnesses to take oath. Whoever makes a false statement before the arbitrators shall be deemed to have committed the crime of perjury." The Dubai Court of Cassation held in one case that the oath must be given in the official form prescribed at Article 41(2) of the UAE Evidence Law which reads: "I swear by Almighty God that I shall tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth". As a result, the common practice amongst arbitration practitioners has been to have witnesses take the oath in the form prescribed in the UAE Evidence Law.

Article 33(7) of the UAE Federal Arbitration Law states that "[u]nless otherwise agreed by the parties, hearing the statements of the witnesses, including the experts, shall be carried out as per the effective laws in the State". The new law appears to give parties and the tribunal the flexibility and autonomy through agreement to deviate from the UAE Evidence Law and the official form of the oath set out at Article 41(2) of the UAE Evidence Law.

  • Video conference – There was previously uncertainty as to whether witness testimony by video-conferencing was permitted under the arbitration provisions of the CPC, particularly in circumstances where there was no party agreement to do so. The UAE Federal Arbitration Law provides under Article 35 that the "Arbitral Tribunal may hear the statements of the witnesses, including the expert’s witnesses, through the modern means of communication, which do not require their personal attendance at the hearing". This is aligned with the amendments made to the CPC in 2017 to allow remote communication technologies, such as video-conferencing, in UAE Court hearings.
  • Signing the Award – Article 212(5) of the CPC provided in general terms that the "award shall be valid if signed by a majority of the arbitrators". Various decisions were handed down by the Dubai Court of Cassation and Abu Dhabi Court of Cassation on what formalities must be satisfied for an award to be valid. This ultimately resulted in arbitrators signing each page of an award as best practice to avoid the risk of annulment. Article 41(3) of the UAE Federal Arbitration Law states that "the arbitrators shall sign the award" without specifying in any detail the form of a valid award. In light of the current wording of Article 41(3) of the UAE Federal Arbitration Law, there is still the possibility that future awards will be exposed to the risk of annulment if the UAE Court's follow the previous Court of Cassation decisions on the procedural formalities of an award.
  • Time limit for rendering the Award - Article 42(1) of the UAE Federal Arbitration Law states that the tribunal shall issue the award by the date agreed upon by the parties and that if no date is agreed upon the award shall be issued within six months from the date of holding the first hearing of the arbitration procedures. The six month time limit to issue the award can be extended with the agreement of the parties. If this time limit is not adhered to, the award can be annulled pursuant to Article 53(1)(g) of the UAE Federal Arbitration Law. This is similar to the wording of Article 210 of CPC which required tribunals to render awards within six months from the first arbitration session unless otherwise agreed by the parties. Whilst the expeditious conclusion of an arbitration is no doubt of benefit to all parties, in light of the inherent complexities which arise in most commercial arbitrations, a time limit to issue an award can result in unfairness particularly in circumstances where there is no guarantee that the parties will agree to an extension of time.
  • Time limit to challenge Award – Under Article 54(2) of the UAE Federal Arbitration Law a party that wishes to challenge an award must do so within 30 days of the date of notification of the award. A challenge to the award does not, however, automatically suspend enforcement like it did under the CPC. If a party wishes to suspend the execution of the award until such time that the nullification application has been heard, then an application can be made to the Court for a suspension of execution. Under Article 56(1) of the UAE Federal Arbitration Law, the Court may order the suspension of the execution if the request is for a serious reason. The UAE Federal Arbitration Law does not define what constitutes a 'serious reason' and therefore it remains to be seen how Article 56(1) will be interpreted by the UAE Courts.

A New Era for UAE Arbitration?

The development of a federal arbitration law and the alignment of the UAE's arbitration laws with international best practice have been long anticipated by businesses and arbitration practitioners in the region. The adoption of the Model Law will no doubt result in the UAE being perceived as a more arbitration-friendly jurisdiction.

It is, of course, yet to be seen how the UAE Courts will interpret the new UAE Federal Arbitration Law, and the expectation is that the UAE Courts will continue to grow as an arbitration friendly jurisdiction. One key concern that remains alive is the issue of immunity of arbitrators, which has stemmed from the amendments to Article 257 of the Penal Code in 2016. Under Article 257 of the Penal Code, arbitrators are exposes to punishment by imprisonment if they are found to be in contravention of the duty of neutrality and integrity.

This modernisation of the UAE's arbitration framework, coupled with the UAE's accession to a number of bilateral and multilateral conventions providing for the recognition and enforcement of arbitral awards and foreign judgments, including the New York Convention and GCC Convention, puts the UAE in a strong position to be a preferred seat for arbitration in the Middle East. The outlook is that the UAE will continue to move in the right direction, with further reforms to its domestic laws to eradicate any obstacles hindering the growth of arbitration in the UAE.

Click here to download PDF.

1 All UAE legislation quoted in this article are from unofficial English translations of the original Arabic text of the law.

Aimy Roshan and Hafsa Raza, are associates at White & Case, assisted in the development of this publication.

[View source.]

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© White & Case LLP | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

White & Case LLP

White & Case LLP on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
- hide

JD Supra Privacy Policy

Updated: May 25, 2018:

JD Supra is a legal publishing service that connects experts and their content with broader audiences of professionals, journalists and associations.

This Privacy Policy describes how JD Supra, LLC ("JD Supra" or "we," "us," or "our") collects, uses and shares personal data collected from visitors to our website (located at (our "Website") who view only publicly-available content as well as subscribers to our services (such as our email digests or author tools)(our "Services"). By using our Website and registering for one of our Services, you are agreeing to the terms of this Privacy Policy.

Please note that if you subscribe to one of our Services, you can make choices about how we collect, use and share your information through our Privacy Center under the "My Account" dashboard (available if you are logged into your JD Supra account).

Collection of Information

Registration Information. When you register with JD Supra for our Website and Services, either as an author or as a subscriber, you will be asked to provide identifying information to create your JD Supra account ("Registration Data"), such as your:

  • Email
  • First Name
  • Last Name
  • Company Name
  • Company Industry
  • Title
  • Country

Other Information: We also collect other information you may voluntarily provide. This may include content you provide for publication. We may also receive your communications with others through our Website and Services (such as contacting an author through our Website) or communications directly with us (such as through email, feedback or other forms or social media). If you are a subscribed user, we will also collect your user preferences, such as the types of articles you would like to read.

Information from third parties (such as, from your employer or LinkedIn): We may also receive information about you from third party sources. For example, your employer may provide your information to us, such as in connection with an article submitted by your employer for publication. If you choose to use LinkedIn to subscribe to our Website and Services, we also collect information related to your LinkedIn account and profile.

Your interactions with our Website and Services: As is true of most websites, we gather certain information automatically. This information includes IP addresses, browser type, Internet service provider (ISP), referring/exit pages, operating system, date/time stamp and clickstream data. We use this information to analyze trends, to administer the Website and our Services, to improve the content and performance of our Website and Services, and to track users' movements around the site. We may also link this automatically-collected data to personal information, for example, to inform authors about who has read their articles. Some of this data is collected through information sent by your web browser. We also use cookies and other tracking technologies to collect this information. To learn more about cookies and other tracking technologies that JD Supra may use on our Website and Services please see our "Cookies Guide" page.

How do we use this information?

We use the information and data we collect principally in order to provide our Website and Services. More specifically, we may use your personal information to:

  • Operate our Website and Services and publish content;
  • Distribute content to you in accordance with your preferences as well as to provide other notifications to you (for example, updates about our policies and terms);
  • Measure readership and usage of the Website and Services;
  • Communicate with you regarding your questions and requests;
  • Authenticate users and to provide for the safety and security of our Website and Services;
  • Conduct research and similar activities to improve our Website and Services; and
  • Comply with our legal and regulatory responsibilities and to enforce our rights.

How is your information shared?

  • Content and other public information (such as an author profile) is shared on our Website and Services, including via email digests and social media feeds, and is accessible to the general public.
  • If you choose to use our Website and Services to communicate directly with a company or individual, such communication may be shared accordingly.
  • Readership information is provided to publishing law firms and authors of content to give them insight into their readership and to help them to improve their content.
  • Our Website may offer you the opportunity to share information through our Website, such as through Facebook's "Like" or Twitter's "Tweet" button. We offer this functionality to help generate interest in our Website and content and to permit you to recommend content to your contacts. You should be aware that sharing through such functionality may result in information being collected by the applicable social media network and possibly being made publicly available (for example, through a search engine). Any such information collection would be subject to such third party social media network's privacy policy.
  • Your information may also be shared to parties who support our business, such as professional advisors as well as web-hosting providers, analytics providers and other information technology providers.
  • Any court, governmental authority, law enforcement agency or other third party where we believe disclosure is necessary to comply with a legal or regulatory obligation, or otherwise to protect our rights, the rights of any third party or individuals' personal safety, or to detect, prevent, or otherwise address fraud, security or safety issues.
  • To our affiliated entities and in connection with the sale, assignment or other transfer of our company or our business.

How We Protect Your Information

JD Supra takes reasonable and appropriate precautions to insure that user information is protected from loss, misuse and unauthorized access, disclosure, alteration and destruction. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. You should keep in mind that no Internet transmission is ever 100% secure or error-free. Where you use log-in credentials (usernames, passwords) on our Website, please remember that it is your responsibility to safeguard them. If you believe that your log-in credentials have been compromised, please contact us at

Children's Information

Our Website and Services are not directed at children under the age of 16 and we do not knowingly collect personal information from children under the age of 16 through our Website and/or Services. If you have reason to believe that a child under the age of 16 has provided personal information to us, please contact us, and we will endeavor to delete that information from our databases.

Links to Other Websites

Our Website and Services may contain links to other websites. The operators of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using our Website or Services and click a link to another site, you will leave our Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We are not responsible for the data collection and use practices of such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of our Website and Services and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Information for EU and Swiss Residents

JD Supra's principal place of business is in the United States. By subscribing to our website, you expressly consent to your information being processed in the United States.

  • Our Legal Basis for Processing: Generally, we rely on our legitimate interests in order to process your personal information. For example, we rely on this legal ground if we use your personal information to manage your Registration Data and administer our relationship with you; to deliver our Website and Services; understand and improve our Website and Services; report reader analytics to our authors; to personalize your experience on our Website and Services; and where necessary to protect or defend our or another's rights or property, or to detect, prevent, or otherwise address fraud, security, safety or privacy issues. Please see Article 6(1)(f) of the E.U. General Data Protection Regulation ("GDPR") In addition, there may be other situations where other grounds for processing may exist, such as where processing is a result of legal requirements (GDPR Article 6(1)(c)) or for reasons of public interest (GDPR Article 6(1)(e)). Please see the "Your Rights" section of this Privacy Policy immediately below for more information about how you may request that we limit or refrain from processing your personal information.
  • Your Rights
    • Right of Access/Portability: You can ask to review details about the information we hold about you and how that information has been used and disclosed. Note that we may request to verify your identification before fulfilling your request. You can also request that your personal information is provided to you in a commonly used electronic format so that you can share it with other organizations.
    • Right to Correct Information: You may ask that we make corrections to any information we hold, if you believe such correction to be necessary.
    • Right to Restrict Our Processing or Erasure of Information: You also have the right in certain circumstances to ask us to restrict processing of your personal information or to erase your personal information. Where you have consented to our use of your personal information, you can withdraw your consent at any time.

You can make a request to exercise any of these rights by emailing us at or by writing to us at:

Privacy Officer
JD Supra, LLC
10 Liberty Ship Way, Suite 300
Sausalito, California 94965

You can also manage your profile and subscriptions through our Privacy Center under the "My Account" dashboard.

We will make all practical efforts to respect your wishes. There may be times, however, where we are not able to fulfill your request, for example, if applicable law prohibits our compliance. Please note that JD Supra does not use "automatic decision making" or "profiling" as those terms are defined in the GDPR.

  • Timeframe for retaining your personal information: We will retain your personal information in a form that identifies you only for as long as it serves the purpose(s) for which it was initially collected as stated in this Privacy Policy, or subsequently authorized. We may continue processing your personal information for longer periods, but only for the time and to the extent such processing reasonably serves the purposes of archiving in the public interest, journalism, literature and art, scientific or historical research and statistical analysis, and subject to the protection of this Privacy Policy. For example, if you are an author, your personal information may continue to be published in connection with your article indefinitely. When we have no ongoing legitimate business need to process your personal information, we will either delete or anonymize it, or, if this is not possible (for example, because your personal information has been stored in backup archives), then we will securely store your personal information and isolate it from any further processing until deletion is possible.
  • Onward Transfer to Third Parties: As noted in the "How We Share Your Data" Section above, JD Supra may share your information with third parties. When JD Supra discloses your personal information to third parties, we have ensured that such third parties have either certified under the EU-U.S. or Swiss Privacy Shield Framework and will process all personal data received from EU member states/Switzerland in reliance on the applicable Privacy Shield Framework or that they have been subjected to strict contractual provisions in their contract with us to guarantee an adequate level of data protection for your data.

California Privacy Rights

Pursuant to Section 1798.83 of the California Civil Code, our customers who are California residents have the right to request certain information regarding our disclosure of personal information to third parties for their direct marketing purposes.

You can make a request for this information by emailing us at or by writing to us at:

Privacy Officer
JD Supra, LLC
10 Liberty Ship Way, Suite 300
Sausalito, California 94965

Some browsers have incorporated a Do Not Track (DNT) feature. These features, when turned on, send a signal that you prefer that the website you are visiting not collect and use data regarding your online searching and browsing activities. As there is not yet a common understanding on how to interpret the DNT signal, we currently do not respond to DNT signals on our site.

Access/Correct/Update/Delete Personal Information

For non-EU/Swiss residents, if you would like to know what personal information we have about you, you can send an e-mail to We will be in contact with you (by mail or otherwise) to verify your identity and provide you the information you request. We will respond within 30 days to your request for access to your personal information. In some cases, we may not be able to remove your personal information, in which case we will let you know if we are unable to do so and why. If you would like to correct or update your personal information, you can manage your profile and subscriptions through our Privacy Center under the "My Account" dashboard. If you would like to delete your account or remove your information from our Website and Services, send an e-mail to

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Privacy Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our Privacy Policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use our Website and Services following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this Privacy Policy, the practices of this site, your dealings with our Website or Services, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at:

JD Supra Cookie Guide

As with many websites, JD Supra's website (located at (our "Website") and our services (such as our email article digests)(our "Services") use a standard technology called a "cookie" and other similar technologies (such as, pixels and web beacons), which are small data files that are transferred to your computer when you use our Website and Services. These technologies automatically identify your browser whenever you interact with our Website and Services.

How We Use Cookies and Other Tracking Technologies

We use cookies and other tracking technologies to:

  1. Improve the user experience on our Website and Services;
  2. Store the authorization token that users receive when they login to the private areas of our Website. This token is specific to a user's login session and requires a valid username and password to obtain. It is required to access the user's profile information, subscriptions, and analytics;
  3. Track anonymous site usage; and
  4. Permit connectivity with social media networks to permit content sharing.

There are different types of cookies and other technologies used our Website, notably:

  • "Session cookies" - These cookies only last as long as your online session, and disappear from your computer or device when you close your browser (like Internet Explorer, Google Chrome or Safari).
  • "Persistent cookies" - These cookies stay on your computer or device after your browser has been closed and last for a time specified in the cookie. We use persistent cookies when we need to know who you are for more than one browsing session. For example, we use them to remember your preferences for the next time you visit.
  • "Web Beacons/Pixels" - Some of our web pages and emails may also contain small electronic images known as web beacons, clear GIFs or single-pixel GIFs. These images are placed on a web page or email and typically work in conjunction with cookies to collect data. We use these images to identify our users and user behavior, such as counting the number of users who have visited a web page or acted upon one of our email digests.

JD Supra Cookies. We place our own cookies on your computer to track certain information about you while you are using our Website and Services. For example, we place a session cookie on your computer each time you visit our Website. We use these cookies to allow you to log-in to your subscriber account. In addition, through these cookies we are able to collect information about how you use the Website, including what browser you may be using, your IP address, and the URL address you came from upon visiting our Website and the URL you next visit (even if those URLs are not on our Website). We also utilize email web beacons to monitor whether our emails are being delivered and read. We also use these tools to help deliver reader analytics to our authors to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

Analytics/Performance Cookies. JD Supra also uses the following analytic tools to help us analyze the performance of our Website and Services as well as how visitors use our Website and Services:

  • HubSpot - For more information about HubSpot cookies, please visit
  • New Relic - For more information on New Relic cookies, please visit
  • Google Analytics - For more information on Google Analytics cookies, visit To opt-out of being tracked by Google Analytics across all websites visit This will allow you to download and install a Google Analytics cookie-free web browser.

Facebook, Twitter and other Social Network Cookies. Our content pages allow you to share content appearing on our Website and Services to your social media accounts through the "Like," "Tweet," or similar buttons displayed on such pages. To accomplish this Service, we embed code that such third party social networks provide and that we do not control. These buttons know that you are logged in to your social network account and therefore such social networks could also know that you are viewing the JD Supra Website.

Controlling and Deleting Cookies

If you would like to change how a browser uses cookies, including blocking or deleting cookies from the JD Supra Website and Services you can do so by changing the settings in your web browser. To control cookies, most browsers allow you to either accept or reject all cookies, only accept certain types of cookies, or prompt you every time a site wishes to save a cookie. It's also easy to delete cookies that are already saved on your device by a browser.

The processes for controlling and deleting cookies vary depending on which browser you use. To find out how to do so with a particular browser, you can use your browser's "Help" function or alternatively, you can visit which explains, step-by-step, how to control and delete cookies in most browsers.

Updates to This Policy

We may update this cookie policy and our Privacy Policy from time-to-time, particularly as technology changes. You can always check this page for the latest version. We may also notify you of changes to our privacy policy by email.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about how we use cookies and other tracking technologies, please contact us at:

- hide

This website uses cookies to improve user experience, track anonymous site usage, store authorization tokens and permit sharing on social media networks. By continuing to browse this website you accept the use of cookies. Click here to read more about how we use cookies.