Skeleton Arguments and Statements of Case filed with the DIFC Courts


This Practice Direction will come into effect on the date of signature. It may be cited as Practice Direction 2 of 2016 – Skeleton Arguments and Statements of Case filed with the DIFC Courts – and may be abbreviated to PD 2/2016.

This Practice Direction should be read in the light of Rules 35.61 to 35.63, 44.76 to 44.82, 44.109 to 44.114, and 44.127 to 44.130 of the Rules of the DIFC Courts (“RDC”) which provide for the submission of written skeleton arguments, as well as Schedule A to Part 23 of the RDC.

1. Skeleton arguments submitted by parties before trial and the consideration of heavy applications (see RDC 23.44) are not to exceed 25 pages in length.

2. Skeleton arguments submitted in the context of ordinary applications (see RDC 23.39) are not to exceed 15 pages in length.

3. Skeleton arguments submitted in the context of appeals and supplementary skeleton arguments for appeals are not to exceed 35 pages in length.

4. No skeleton may be submitted in a font smaller than 12 point or with less than double line spacing.

5. Any front sheet, back sheet, index, chronology, reading list, timetable, glossary, list of dramatis personae or attachments(1.) will not be counted as part of the page limit prescribed in paragraphs 1, 2 and 3 above.

6. Within their skeletons, parties should seek to direct the judge to the appropriate material from the reading list that focuses on the issues to be considered.

7. Should parties wish to submit skeleton arguments longer than as prescribed in paragraphs 1, 2 and 3 above, they must seek the Court’s permission by way of letter application, with reasons, to the Registry. Such an application:

a. Must be made sufficiently in advance of the deadline for service to enable the Court to rule upon it. The applicant should bear in mind the timescale for a decision set out in paragraph 8 below, and the time it may need to shorten the skeleton if necessary.
b. Must be contained in a letter no longer than one side of A4 paper.
c. Must attach the proposed skeleton argument.

8. The Court will decide all applications made in accordance with paragraph 7 above within five working days from the date the Court received the application. If a response has not been received within that period, the party may assume that permission has been granted.

9. When deciding such an application, the Court will grant permission for a lengthier skeleton where:

a. The application, trial or appeal concerns an exceptional level of factual or legal complexity (beyond that of a normal commercial dispute), and
b. The proposed skeleton complies with the requirements of Schedule A to Part 23 of the RDC.

10. Where permission for a lengthier skeleton has been granted by the Court, a note to that effect should be placed at the start of the skeleton.

11. Where a party files and serves a skeleton argument longer than prescribed in paragraphs 1, 2 and 3 above without the Court’s permission the Court may apply one or more of the following sanctions:

a. Limit the time the party in breach is allowed for oral argument,
b. Disregard any page beyond the page limit,
c. Adjourn the hearing and order a compliant skeleton to be filed and served in advance of the adjourned hearing,
d. Make an order for wasted costs under RDC 38.83,
e. Make any other order.

12. Any party wishing to make an application for relief from any of the sanctions set out in paragraph 11 is reminded that such an application will be decided in accordance with RDC 4.49.

13. Parties wishing to file a statement of case(2.) longer than 25 pages may do so, but their attention is drawn to the requirement for a summary set out in RDC 17.47.

Dated this 31 day of January 2016

Chief Justice Michael Hwang

1. “Attachments” for the purposes of this paragraph shall encompass attachments of key extracts from case documents or case authorities, for ease of reference of the Court. The trial judge reserves the discretion to allow for a more detailed Opening Statement to be made with whichever page limits he or she considers appropriate given the complexity of the case. This can also be achieved on application or by consent between the parties.

2. For the purposes of paragraph 13 above, the term “statement of case” shall mean: (1) A claim form, particulars of claim where these are not included in a claim form, defence, additional claim notice, or reply to defence; and
(2) Any formal written further information given in relation to a statement of case, whether given voluntarily or by court order.