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Insurance in the United Arab Emirates is governed broadly by Federal Law No. 6/2007 On the Regulation of Insurance Operations (UAE Insurance Law), along with various other regulations, resolutions, and decisions issued by the Insurance Authority Board from time to time.
Insurance Litigation in the UAE
In terms of insurance litigation in the UAE, the UAE Insurance Law sets out the appropriate process.
According to Article 110/3 of the UAE Insurance Law, disputes related to insurance policies, activities and services would first need to be settled by referring the matter to the Committee established under the UAE Insurance Law before courts can be approached.
The Committee, called the Committee for Settlement and Resolution of Insurance Disputes, is responsible for settling insurance disputes. In this connection, Insurance Authority Board Resolution No. (33) of 2019 Concerning the Regulation of the Committees for the Settlement and Resolution of Insurance Disputes (Resolution for Committees) was issued on 15 July 2019.
According to Article 2/2 of the Resolution for Committees, the Committee is to hear the insurance disputes filed before it in an objective matter, taking into account the legal provisions, subject matter of the dispute, regulations, instructions and resolutions issued and insurance principles.
Article 4 of the Resolution for Committees further clarifies that the Committees will be competent to settle and resolve insurance disputes of all types and classes of insurance arising from the complaints of the insured, the beneficiaries or an injured party against the company, irrespective of the value of the complaint.
However, based on Article 5 of the Resolution for Committees, the Committee is not competent to settle disputes that are subject to arbitration.
How Does the Committee Resolve Disputes?
The Committee will settle the insurance dispute through reconciliation. The language of the Committees would be Arabic and all statements of non-Arabic speaking parties, witnesses or experts will be heard through an interpreter who would have taken an oath. This is in line with Article 2 of the Resolution for Committees.
The Committee is entitled to review papers, documents and other evidence as it deems appropriate without adhering to the Civil Procedural Law under Article 2 of the Resolution for Committees. The Committee also has the right to seek the views of consultants, surveyors, and experts under Article 16 of the Resolution for Committees.
The Committee will resolve the dispute within 15 days under Article 11/3 of the Resolution for Committees, which can be further extended. In accordance with Article 11/4 of the Resolution for Committees, the settlement between the parties shall be documented by way of a settlement, which will be attested by the chairman and members of the Committee.
If the settlement cannot be reached, the Committee will proceed to resolve the dispute through the resolution process and issue an award/decision on the dispute.
The award of the Committee may be challenged before the Court of First Instance within a period of 30 days from the date of notification of award. If no challenge has been made within this period, the award/decision will be treated as final and enforceable. This is in accordance with Article 110/4 of the UAE Insurance Law and Article 16/3 of the Resolution for Committees.
The parties can also choose to resolve their disputes through arbitration. For this purpose, the arbitration clause has to be issued as a different agreement, which is separate from the general terms and conditions of the insurance policy agreed between the insurer and the insured.
As mentioned above, where the parties are subject to arbitration to settle their disputes, the Committee will not be competent to hear such matters.