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United Arab Emirates > Legal market overview > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Legal market overview clients in United Arab Emirates using The Legal 500's new comprehensive database of law firm/client relationships. Instantly search over 925,000 relationships, including over 83,000 Fortune 500, 46,000 FTSE350 and 13,000 DAX 30 relationships globally. Access is free for in-house lawyers, and by subscription for law firms. For more information, contact david.burgess@legal500.com.

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In part due to its political stability and ease of doing business, Dubai is the key hub for the Middle East as a whole, with many regional transactions and even purely in-third-country deals. Outside Dubai, many firms maintain presences in Abu Dhabi, roughly an hour and a half’s drive away, which is home to Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) and the federal government; many observers compare the dynamic between the two cities as not dissimilar to the dynamic between New York and Washington DC. Consolidation has been the name of the game in Abu Dhabi, with two leading sovereign wealth funds (Mubadala Development Company and IPIC) and two banks (First Gulf Bank and National Bank of Abu Dhabi) amalgamating; the combined entities are now known as Mubadala Investment Company and First Abu Dhabi Bank, respectively.

Free zones, including the successful Dubai International Financial Centre (which is spawning copycats in the region and beyond) and the Abu Dhabi Global Market operate under common law systems, as distinct from the Egyptian-style civil code system used in the rest of the country. Clients have a choice between many leading British and American law firms, with a number of indigenous national and regional players having particular strengths in local law issues and litigation; while international firms are prohibited from appearing before local courts, many can and do work as co-counsel with local firms.

FIRMS IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Al Rowaad Advocates & Legal Consultants

Al Rowaad Advocates & Legal Consultants is a full-service law firm committed to delivering sound judgement to its clients on their most difficult and important matters. Established in 2003, the firm was first known as Advocates Without Frontiers before it expanded and was recently renamed Al Rowaad Advocates & Legal Consultants, the company’s licence owner, with a head office in Dubai and a branch office in Abu Dhabi.

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Key trends in the market include a coat-tail effect from Saudi Arabia’s opening to the world (with many firms servicing directly Saudi work in the UAE), although strained relations with Qatar have imposed challenges in servicing that jurisdiction. Key changes on the horizon include a pan-GCC system of VAT to follow the imposition of modest excise duties on tobacco and somewhat higher ones on carbonated drinks; rare examples of consumer-facing tax changes in a jurisdiction with effectively no personal taxes. Like many of its GCC neighbours’ currencies, the UAE dirham (AED) is pegged to the US dollar.

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Legal Developments in United Arab Emirates

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  • Cautious Optimism on 100 per cent Foreign Ownership

    Recent media reports have suggested that 100 per cent foreign ownership of companies in the UAE will now be permitted. The reports are based on a government press release regarding a UAE Federal Cabinet (Cabinet) meeting held on 20 May 2018.
  • Thoughts on the Extradition Rules under the UAE Laws

    This article assesses the feasibilities and outline of the process of extradition in the UAE. The article also reviews how extradition succeeds through judicial collaboration internationally.
  • Arbitration Article Series V: Challenging an Arbitration

    In this case the losing party will file an annulment case. However, it may be possible to argue that the parties have accepted the tribunal’s jurisdiction, or have waived any right to object, or have lost that right by not objecting at the first opportunity.
  • Investors win Dh84m claim against developer in Dubai

    A Dubai developer has been ordered to pay three men Dh84m after they failed to deliver villas the men had purchased from a housing project near Dubai Land.
  • The Public-Private Partnership Law Review 3rd Edition

    The Philippine chapter of The Public-Private Partnership Law Review 3 rd edition was contributed by SyCipLaw partners Marievic G. Ramos-Añonuevo and Arlene M. Maneja . The chapter includes information on public-private partnerships (PPPs) in the Philippines, including general framework, bidding and award procedure, contractual arrangements, financing, and recent developments and decisions.
  • Arbitration Article Series IV: Enforcing Arbitration Awards

    In this case the losing party will file an annulment case. However, it may be possible to argue that the parties have accepted the tribunal’s jurisdiction, or have waived any right to object, or have lost that right by not objecting at the first opportunity.
  • Arbitration Article Series I: Rise of Arbitration

    The UAE has rapidly emerged as a leading financial centre, attracting large global investors and businesses. As international developers and contractors continue to invest in construction projects, there has been an increasing trend in the use of arbitration in Dubai. The arbitration process is the preferred method to resolve disputes by commercial companies. As the certified language of arbitration proceedings is in English, a specialist tribunal can be appointed as opposed to the more broad UAE courts, and arbitration is generally more cost-effective and less time-consuming. This has led businesses and investors in the UAE to ensure that arbitration clauses or agreements are inserted into their contracts. Furthermore, the downturn in economic conditions in the real estate market over the past few years has led to an increase in disputes in general, and parties are more likely to issue court proceedings than to try to recover their losses through other ventures.
  • Arbitration Article Series II: Appointing Arbitrators

    An arbitrator can be appointed directly by name (this is not the common method used), through the court or through the arbitration centre. If you agree for the court or arbitration centre to appoint an arbitrator you need to make an application. The arbitration provisions of the Civil Procedure Code contain mandatory provisions concerning the appointment of an arbitrator. There must be an odd number of arbitrators, although there is no limit set on the number of arbitrators.
  • Arbitration Article Series III: Terms of References

    Parties wanting to enforce an award under the New York Convention must satisfy the requirements of the UAE Civil Code. In practice, enforcing arbitration awards can be a lengthy and unpredictable process. It is common for the UAE courts to require the foreign award to satisfy the rules and procedures of the UAE, and they may refuse to enforce it if there is a violation of local laws. One potential difficulty arises in convincing the UAE court that it did not have jurisdiction to hear the dispute in the first place (irrespective of the arbitration agreement between the parties). The UAE courts normally have a fairly broad jurisdiction over disputes including, for example, claims connected to money or assets within the UAE and claims arising out of contracts executed or to be performed in the UAE, as well as claims over foreigners who are resident in the UAE. Therefore, it is difficult to prove that the UAE court did not have jurisdiction over the order.
  • An Introduction to Corporate Guarantee

    In the UAE, the risk management activities inherent in running a corporate or investment banking business remain of crucial importance, not least because of the strong local characteristic of “name lending”, by which is meant lending or providing other banking facilities to family or other private businesses, primarily on the strength of the “name” or “names” of the proprietors standing behind the business, rather than on the strength of the asset quality and underlying credit of the particular business. Of course, in practice, there is commercial overlap between the proprietors and the companies which they own, but the credit analyses can break down where poor banking practices and procedures result in poorly constructed legal documentation and gaps in guarantee and security support documents.

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