• Justice Sir David Steel takes on Deputy Chief Justice role from Sir John Chadwick who has reached the statutory retirement age
  • Justice Sir Jeremy Cooke joins to add further international bench strength
  • International appointments support development of UAE national judicial talent

Dubai, United Arab Emirates; 18 May 2016: The DIFC Courts today announced the appointment of two former Judges in Charge of the Commercial Court in the High Court of London to key roles in the Dubai-based judiciary.

After five years of service with the DIFC Courts, Justice Sir David Steel is named the new Deputy Chief Justice. A former Judge in Charge of the Commercial Court in the High Court of London, he has particular expertise in maritime law and the commercial, banking, insurance, oil and gas, and aerospace sectors. Deputy Chief Justice Steel replaces Justice Sir John Chadwick, who is stepping down upon reaching the statutory retirement age. Justice Chadwick, who served the DIFC Courts for eight distinguished years, will retire once his current roster of cases is complete.

Justice Chadwick’s place on the DIFC Courts’ bench will be filled by Justice Sir Jeremy Cooke, a former Judge in Charge of the Commercial Court in the High Court of London. A commercial litigation specialist, Justice Cooke began his legal career in 1971 and was appointed a High Court Judge in 2001. Justice Cooke has joined the DIFC Courts with immediate effect.

DIFC Courts Chief Justice Michael Hwang said: “Sir John Chadwick has been an outstanding Deputy Chief Justice and we wish him the very best in his retirement. I thank him for his service and am delighted that he will stay on to complete the cases with which he is involved. The DIFC Courts are in the fortunate position of being able to draw from a large bench of world-class judges. Over the last five years with the DIFC Courts, Sir David Steel has proven himself to be an exceptional legal mind and thoroughly deserving of the key position of Deputy Chief Justice. We are also delighted to welcome Justice Cooke to the bench, whose expertise and experience will add significant additional momentum to our quest for judicial excellence.”

Deputy Chief Justice Sir David Steel said: “It has been a great honour to serve the DIFC Courts for the past five years, during which time they have emerged as one of the world’s leading commercial courts. I look forward to building on Sir John Chadwick’s legacy and to upholding the DIFC Courts’ well-earned reputation for success in commercial dispute resolution, innovation and enforcement.”

Justice Sir Jeremy Cooke added: “In 2014, I had the pleasure of giving a speech in Dubai as part of the DIFC Academy of Law’s Lecture Series. I was struck by the vibrancy of the Emirate’s legal scene and by the quality of its commercial judiciary. As I move into the next phase of my career, I am proud and excited to be joining one of the world’s leading commercial courts.”

The appointment of top international judges has played an important role in developing local judges at the DIFC Courts. As part of this current round of organisation changes, two of the Emirati justices who currently serve on the ten person bench have had their roles expanded to include broader functions both at home and abroad. H.E. Justice Omar Al Muhairi, who was one of the committee members who established the DIFC Courts, has been promoted to Senior Resident Judge. In this new role, he will serve as the Chief Justice’s representative and spokesperson when liaising with UAE ministries and local government entities. Meanwhile, H.E. Justice Ali Al Madhani will become the principal ambassador for the DIFC Courts in matters related to Gulf Cooperation Council countries.