How to Enforce Arbitration Awards in the UAE

Arbitration is a notable and prominent form of resolving disputes in the commercial world nowadays. The procedure for filing arbitration is relatively straightforward and is similar in all the arbitration centres around the world. However, the procedure for enforcement of an arbitral award differs with the jurisdiction, and there are several obstacles the parties can encounter whilst enforce arbitration awards as highlighted in this article by Top Lawyers in Dubai. Corporate lawyers in Dubai have made it easy for you to comprehend the issues in relation to enforcement of arbitral awards under the Federal Law Number 6 of 2018 concerning the Federal Arbitration law (the New Arbitration Law or the Law) which has repealed the arbitration clauses under Federal Law Number 11 of 1992, the Civil Procedure Code (the CPC).

Article 55-57 of the New Arbitration Law emphasize the Enforcement of arbitral awards in UAE. According to Article 55 of the Law, the party looking for enforcing an arbitral award shall at the beginning submit a request for its confirmation from the Chief Justice of the Court along with the following documentation:

i. Original award or a certified copy;

ii. Copy of the arbitration agreement;

iii. Legally translated and duly attested and notarized arbitral award, in case of a foreign award;

iv. Copy of minutes of deposit of the award.

Upon receiving the aforementioned documents, the competent court shall provide its confirmation on the award and shall order for its enforcement within sixty (60) days from the date of the request, unless the court has specific reasons to set aside the award under the Law.

In lieu of above, Article 56 of the Law states that any action to set aside the arbitral award does not affect its enforcement. However, the court may impose a stay on the enforcement upon the request of either party. Accordingly, the court may order the party seeking a stay to deposit security or money guarantee in this regards. Importantly, any party aggrieved from the court’s decision to stay on enforcement may file an appeal before the Court of Appeal within thirty (30) days from the date of such order.

It is evident from the wording of the Law that any party filing for arbitration award must first seek ratification from the Courts. This is procedure identical to the regular procedure of enforcing a civil claim before Execution Court. Similarly, upon receiving the decision, either by ratification or annulment, the losing party has been given the right to file an appeal before the relevant court.

On the contrary, as understood a winning party has the right to file for ratification of the award. Similarly, the party losing the award may file for an annulment. It is a common practice in UAE for losing parties to file a counter application for annulment of awards. In such circumstances, the courts are not obligated to re-investigate the merits of the case for the concerned dispute; this might happen. Generally, the losing parties sometimes try to frustrate the ratification procedure by raising contentions before the courts, which were previously dealt amid the arbitration or to challenge the validity of the award under Article 53 of the Law which was previously under Article 216 of CPC on erroneous procedural grounds.

It is not obscure for the awards to be overturned by the competent courts for obvious inconsequential technical mistakes, for instance, failure of the arbitrator to sign each page of the award or failure to seek oath from the witness. Therefore, it must be noted that the technical procedures under the arbitration hold paramount importance while enforcing the award. Thus, the award must satisfy all the perquisites highlighted in the new Law.

Conclusion

Although arbitration is presently highly appreciated legal landscape around the world, it is pertinent to note that UAE has its own rules and regulations pertaining to the enforcement of arbitral awards. Any act of failure for not adhering with the procedural aspects may include the invalidation of the award with no further right of remedy. Parties to the arbitration or parties that might enter into arbitration are advised to ensure that they seek legal assistance and representations from Best Lawyers in Dubai to submit their claim before the arbitration centre and accordingly enforce it through the competent courts to minimise the risk of annulment.