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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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  • New Anti-Money Laundering Law

    The new anti-money laundering ( AML ) law of the UAE took effect at the end of October 2018. Containing features recommended by the Financial Action Task Force ( FATF ), the new law introduces subtle but important changes to the AML landscape in the UAE. 
  • Confidentiality Under Renewed Focus

    The UAE federal government has recently issued a raft of important legislation, addressing and in many ways updating areas of law that are key to businesses in the jurisdiction. Amongst this legislation is Federal Decree-Law 14 of 2018 concerning the central bank and the organisation of financial institutions and activities (the New Banking Law ) and Federal Decree-Law 20 of 2018 concerning anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism financing (the New AML Law ). Both the New Banking Law and the New AML Law repeal and replace the previous legislation on their respective subjects. Importantly, the New Banking Law and the New AML Law have together enhanced the protection afforded to confidential information under UAE law, in particular where financial and legal service providers and their customers and clients are concerned. 
  • Get 100% Foreign Ownership Today in Dubai

    Freezones have always been the topic of discussion in the U.A.E. Amongst the various benefits, 100% foreign ownership is one of the advantages which is enjoyed the most by investors in these freezone companies. In the below article, our Company Setup Specialist, Neelesh Pillai talks about everything that you need to know about setting up a Freezone branch in Mainland.
  • Overview of the Bankruptcy Proceedings and Preventive Measures in the UAE

    Before the approval of the UAE Federal Decree Law No. 9 of 2016 (the “Bankruptcy Law”) by the UAE Cabinet on 4 September 2016, the bankruptcy proceedings were regulated under the Commercial Code and were limited to court-driven proceeding addressed to liquidate companies rather than assist in restructuring their debts. This new law puts some light on the regulation on how companies should deal with their financial issues. In below article, our Associate from the Dispute Resolution department, Ahmed Salih talks about the bankruptcy proceedings and the preventive measures in the UAE. With over 10 years of experience in the UAE and Sudan , Litigator Ahmed Salih specializes in Commercial Law, Corporate Law, Civil Claims, Labour Disputes, Shari'a Law, personal status cases, Real Estate Claims, and Bankruptcy.
  • Time-bars, time limits and deadlines for legal cases under UAE law

    Under UAE civil law – like in other civil law systems – not all time-bars are mentioned and dealt with in one particular statue. Our Partner, Alessandro Tricoli , and Senior Associate, Shehab Mamdouh explains the different time bars, time limits and deadlines for legal cases under UAE law.
  • Seven Things to Know About Filing a Bankruptcy Petition in the UAE

    The absence of a legal framework for bankruptcy has long been a hindrance to UAE business. In the absence of proper bankruptcy laws, even a bounced cheque could land an entrepreneur in jail. The implementation of the relatively new bankruptcy law in the UAE is a huge step forward in improving the country’s economic and regulatory environment.
  • UAE Shipping Companies Seek VAT Exemption

    The UAE has climbed to sixth place in 2017 from seventh in 2015 on the list of the future leading maritime capitals.
  • Digital Directions

    Digital assets are the foundation of the new economy, and the developments of it continue to hit the headlines regularly. Our Partner & Head of Commercial & Technology, Irina Heaver explains different regulations depending on the nature of the specific assets.  This article was also published in LexisNexis - Middle East. 
  • All You Need to Know About Debt Recovery Procedures in the UAE

    According to the 2018 Global Ranking on Debt Collection, UAE is one of the most challenging places in the world for recovering the debt. With this in mind, keeping an eye on your cash-flow and expenditures are more vital than ever! Fichte & Co.’s dedicated Corporate and Litigation teams provide specialized commercial advice both for creditors and debtors and offer a tailor-made solution, including methods of recovery involving both judicial and quasi-judicial proceedings. Our debt recovery services minimize the time and expenditure involved in the pursuit of defaulting companies or individuals by applying a “No Cure – No Pay” policy. In the below article, our Associate & Litigator, Moaz Mustafa explains the debt recovery process, the court procedures and the time limitation in the UAE.
  • Examining FIDIC Construction Contracts: Part 1 – The Dispute Adjudication Board

    It is usual for construction and infrastructure projects in the UAE to be procured under FIDIC-based construction contracts, with varying degrees of amendment. Although FIDIC- Fédération Internationale Des Ingénieurs-Conseils (International Federation of Consulting Engineers) contracts are generic and internationally recognized standard form construction contracts, they require amendment for use in the UAE market. In the below article, our Litigator, Mahmoud Ahmed talks about few terms & conditions of this most popular and widely used FIDIC contract.

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