The Concept of Dispute in the UAE Courts

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Overview:

Generally, filing a case is deemed to be the right to resort to litigation and/or courts to seek and to protect a legal position claimed by the claimant(s) against the defendant(s), conditional to the satisfaction of the capacity of the parties of the said proceedings (the “Case”).

It is worth noting that, the mere definition and/or concept of the Case is not sufficient to form a dispute among the parties of the Case. Whereby, the dispute itself should be satisfied when a claimant files a Case against a defendant to seek a specific performance, compensation and/or a particular injunction pertaining to the subject-matter of the Case. Accordingly, the defendant shall have the right to carry-out the necessary actions and procedures to challenge the claimant’s arguments. Hence, the legal and judicial dispute is established among its parties (the “Dispute”).

Furthermore, the Dispute is the relationship between the claimant(s), the defendant(s) and the competent judge or panel reviewing and adjudicating the disputed subject-matter. In other words, the Dispute is the chain of consecutive procedures that establishes a legal position of each of the Parties of the Dispute, either natural or juristic persons (the “Parties”), to seek a resolution on the disputed subject-matter by virtue of releasing a judgment ruling and/or deciding on the merits of the Case after satisfying all the required procedural aspects of the said Case.

Insights:

Considering the above, we can conclude that, merely, being one of the Parties of a Case shall not hold such party liable, unless valid claims are directed and/or raised against the said party and the capacity of the Parties is satisfied in such claims. Additionally, the competent judge and/or panel reviewing the Case should not only rule on the disputed subject-matter, but also should neutrally govern the Dispute among its Parties.

Pursuant to the aforementioned Dispute and the relationship among its Parties, the judge, the panel or even the tribunal reviewing and adjudicating the disputed subject-matter, should maintain and govern the ongoing dispute proceedings, including, but not limited to, the notification proceedings, joinder proceedings, deliberation, neither exceed the sought of relief of the Parties nor violate their right of defence.

Accordingly, on releasing a judgment on the merits of the Case, the judgment shall maintain mandatory criteria, either on the procedural aspect or the substantive issues, whereas the judgment shall include mandatory criteria, including, but not limited to, the following:

  1. Both the court and the panel ruling on the merits shall have the jurisdiction to rule on the subject-matter of the case;
  2. The case should be duly filed in accordance with the procedures stipulated by domestic laws;
  3. The judgment should be written and signed by all the members of the panel; as the case may be; and
  4. The subject-matter of the case shall not contradict with the domestic public policy.

Moreover, the competent judge and/or panel shall not exceed the claims raised by the Parties and/or derive from the subject-matter of the Case. Otherwise, the Judgment should be null and void.

Nullification of the Judgment:

In light of the above, the Dubai Court of Appeal (the “Court of Appeal”) recently applied the concept of a Dispute in one of the landmark disputes, where the related parties of the defendant were held jointly liable for the claim amount without being properly joinder parties of the said case, additionally, the said related parties were neither duly notified nor were granted the right of defence to the claims against the defendant.

Knowing that, neither the claimant pursued the required procedures to joinder them on the case itself nor the court granted those related parties the right to defend themselves against the claims and the disputed subject-matter, accordingly they were held jointly liable.

In this regard, the Court of Appeal adopted the concept and/or doctrine of the Dispute and nullified the judgment released by the Court of First Instance; based on the fact that there was a case, yet the Dispute was not duly established among its Parties.

Conclusion:

In our opinion, the Court of Appeal has distinguished a fundamental distinction between the Case itself and the concept of the Dispute included in such Case. Given that, the said distinction should be consolidated by virtue of judicial precedents to determine the importance of the proceedings that should be duly satisfied by any disputing parties.


Authored by: Mohamed Mahmoud Metawea, Associate

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