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Introduction

  1. The purpose of this memorandum is to set out guidelines regulating the Service of Juridical and Judicial papers in relation to civil and commercial applications requested to be served on individuals or companies outside the UAE, and for the service of such papers within the DIFC. This memorandum is concerned only with serving documents requiring collaboration between the International Cooperation Department (the “ICD”) of the UAE Ministry of Justice and the DIFC Courts.
  2. The parties believe that the cooperation demonstrated by this memorandum will promote a mutual understanding and guidance of the judicial processes and will improve public perception and understanding.

The International Cooperation Department (ICD)

  1. Following the undersecretary of technical affairs and international cooperation at the UAE Ministry of Justice, the ICD is mainly tasked with establishing cooperation between Arab and international organisations and institutions to ensure compliance with the related laws, legislations and treaties; examining the provisions of international treaties and cooperation agreements referred to it and giving feedback in their regard; and following-up on or executing the court rulings, orders and notifications issued by foreign entities, or requesting that they be served by the judicial authorities in several countries.

The DIFC Courts

  1. The DIFC Courts form part of the judicial system of the United Arab Emirates, albeit that this memorandum only states the position as it applies to the DIFC Courts. They deal with civil and commercial disputes which are connected to the Dubai International Financial Centre or in respect of which the participants have agreed that the DIFC Courts should have jurisdiction. The DIFC Courts consist of a Small Claims Tribunal, a Court of First Instance and a Court of Appeal. They were established by Dubai Laws Nos 9 and 12 of 2004 and operate as a Common Law Court, applying the highest international standards of legal procedure. The Courts’ judiciary is selected from common law jurisdictions around the world as well as Dubai and boast the highest international renown.

The Requirements for the DIFC Courts’ Judicial Writ of Summons Addressed to the ICD

Procedure

  1. If a case is filed at the DIFC Courts and one of the associated parties resides outside the UAE, they need to be notified using the judiciary papers or the statement of claim via the ICD at the Ministry of Justice being the central authority, provided that the writ of summons meets the provisions of Article (42), Paragraph (2) of Federal Law No. 11 of 1992 on the UAE Civil Procedure Code, amended by Federal Law No. 10 of 2014. The official writ of summons from the DIFC Courts must contain the following statements:
  • The claimant’s name, surname (title), personal identity card number (if available), occupation/job, residence, workplace and telephone number, in addition to the name, surname (title), personal identity card number (if available), occupation/job, workplace, residence and mail address, fax number or e-mail of the claimant’s legal representative. If the claimant has no residence in the UAE, a residence of choice is assigned.
  • The defendant’s name, surname (title), personal identity card number (if available), occupation/job, residence/ chosen residence, workplace and telephone number, in addition to the name, surname (title), personal identity card number (if available), occupation/job, workplace. If neither the defendant nor the legal representative has residence address or known workplace, the most recent residence or workplace, or mail address, fax number or e-mail are used.
  • Cause of litigation, claims and attachment.
  • Date of submitting the statement of claim at the case management office.
  • The court where the case is filed.
  • Signature of the claimant or the claimant’s legal representative.
  1. Following the completion of the above-mentioned terms, the ICD shall within three business days send all the papers and information, in line with the judicial treaties and agreements- if any- concluded by the UAE and the country where the writ of summons needs to be served. In case a judicial treaty does not exist, the reciprocity of treatment principle entails that the ICD sends an official letter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to be later forwarded via the available diplomatic channels to the concerned authorities of the country of residence where the party being notified is. The ICD will then wait for the answer of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding the writ of summons. The wait time varies depending on whether the request is sent to an Arabic country, in which case the answer will be received within three months, or to a non-Arabic country, in which case the answer will be received within six months
  2. When the Ministry of Foreign Affairs receives the answer, the ICD will be notified via an official letter containing the procedures taken by the country where the writ of summons had originally been sent. At this point, the ICD studies whether the writ of summons has been served or not and sends the DIFC Courts an official letter in this regard.

Timeframe

  • For the notification requests issued by DIFC Courts, if the purpose of the documents has been to notify the recipient of a hearing date, the request must allow for an adequate period of time so that the concerned authorities responsible for delivering the notification can serve the involved person. A time limit of at least one month should be allowed for notifications directed to GCC countries, two months for Arabic countries and three months for the rest. Additionally, for non-Arabic speaking countries, the documents must be translated into their official language, or an English translation must be attached.

Some countries prescribe fees for serving judicial papers:

State                                                         Fee

  • USA / WASHINGTON                         95 US $
  • CANADA                                                 50 US $
  • AUSTRALIA                                           59 US $
  • SINGAPORE                                          50 US $

Some countries prescribe certain documents to be attached for serving judicial papers:  

  • United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland require the following:
    • Two copies of the original claim form with English translation.
    • The receiving party or parties full address and specifically their postal code.

Requirements for the IDC’s Judicial Writ of Summons Addressed to the DIFC Courts

For the writ of summons to be served through the DIFC Courts, the ICD will receive an official letter in this regard from UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with the involved judicial papers coming from outside the UAE attached. The ICD will make sure that all conditions are met, and then send the DIFC Courts an official letter with the subject of the writ of summons attached.

In order to serve judicial papers through the DIFC Courts, the following documents will need to be attached:

    1. A copy of the document(s) sought to be served translated into English
    2. All supporting documents, translated into English

Procedure

  1. Where a party, through the ICD, wishes to effect service on any parties located/residing/working within the DIFC, the following procedure will be followed:

(a) The ICD shall produce an official letter addressed to the DIFC Courts. The party seeking to serve the papers within the DIFC (the ‘DIFC Serving Party’) shall receive that letter and is responsible for attaching all the necessary papers and information in accordance with the DIFC’s applicable legislations and rules.

(b) The DIFC Serving Party shall deliver the IDC’s official letter and the necessary attachments to the DIFC Courts.

(c) As a minimum, the following documents will need to be attached and it is imperative that the DIFC Serving Party liaise with the DIFC Courts to ensure that all necessary documents and information are attached to the ICD’s official letter:

  • A copy of the original claim form and all attachments thereto, along with a translation of those documents into English;
  • The intended recipient’s full address should be provided, along with all other information deemed useful to facilitate service.

Timeframe

  1. Upon receipt of the official letter and attachments from the DIFC Serving Party, the DIFC Courts will review the submission and verify that it is in order. The DIFC Courts will endeavour to inform the ICD and the Serving Party within 14 days should the submission be incomplete.
  2. Once the submission is verified by the DIFC Courts to ensure that the necessary conditions are satisfied, the officers in the DIFC Courts will execute the request within 5 working days. Timelines may differ depending on each case.
  3. Within five working days of the DIFC Courts effecting service, the DIFC Courts will notify the Serving Party and the ICD in writing.

Contacting the Courts

  1. Further information about the ICD can be obtained:
    1. by visiting the website of the ICD http://ejustice.gov.ae
    2. by contacting them:
  2. Further information about the DIFC Courts can be obtained:
    1. By visiting the website of the DIFC Courts at www.difccourts.ae;
    2. By contacting the DIFC Courts Registry:
      • Location at Ground Floor, Building 4, The Gate District, PO Box 211724, Dubai, UAE;
      • by telephone on +971 4 427 3333; or
      • by email at registry@difccourts.ae.