Among the particularities of the English common law system is the ability for the winning party to recover the costs proportionately and reasonably incurred in fighting their case. These can include fees charged by legal counsel, allowances for expert witnesses and a range of other disbursements, expenses and remunerations.

This is a basic principle that has guided the DIFC Courts and the Dubai World Tribunal from their first days of operation, and since 2009 they have conducted costs assessments worth a total of USD 8.9 million.

A more significant figure, however, is 85 per cent, which is the average proportion of requested costs that has been granted to receiving parties. This is an important statistic for the DIFC Courts as it offers the businesses and individuals using our courts the certainty that should they win their case, reasonably and proportionate costs can be recovered. It also supports our assertion that the DIFC Courts’ process for recovering costs is as fast, efficient and flexible as any judiciary in the world.

To help parties navigate their way through the system, the DIFC Courts have now published their first “Assessment of Costs” guide. With electronic copies available on our website (http://issuu.com/difccourts/docs/difc_cost_guide_aw_24_hq?e=29076707/51890039) and print versions in our foyer, it offers a step-by-step guide on how best to proceed with recovering costs.

The Guide begins with an overview of the types of costs that can be claimed and the basis upon which the Court will make an assessment, with perhaps the key principle being “costs which have been unreasonably incurred or are unreasonable in amount” are not allowed. It then outlines other factors that can influence the Courts decision to grant costs, such as the conduct of the parties and their efforts to resolve the dispute.

The Guide details the different options open to both parties, including the “Detailed Assessment Hearing” route should the parties not be able to agree on the amount of costs.  Brief details of six cost assessment cases are also included to provide real life examples of how the system works in practice.

In developing the Guide, the DIFC Courts are seeking to provide parties at the outset of proceedings with a clearer understanding and greater measure of certainty regarding the recovery of costs.

Once a case is finished, whether the costs are large or small, the principle is the same: the winning party should generally be able to claim back the reasonable and proportionate costs of pursuing their case.

Thanks to the DIFC Courts’ new Guide, this process will hopefully become even faster and more efficient. 

Natasha Bakirci, Assistant Registrar, DIFC Courts