November 20, 2023 Navigating Disputes Efficiently: A Comprehensive Guide to the Small Claims Tribunal in DIFC Dubai Share Understanding the Small Claims Tribunal: What is the Small Claims Tribunal (SCT)? The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) located in the heart of Dubai next to Downtown Dubai is home to the DIFC Small Claims Tribunal (SCT) which is a judicial body within DIFC Courts. The tribunal was established in 2007 with the aim of hearing claims and reaching judgements for civil, commercial and employment disputes. Key Features and Advantages: Simplified Procedures: • The SCT offers a streamlined procedure which facilitates swift resolutions of disputes (see flow chart for reference) Cost-Effective: • Filling fees for commercial and civil matters is 5% of the claim value with a minimum of USD 100. The fee for filing an appeal to the CFI is 2.5% of the claim value with a minimum of USD 100. • Filling fees for employment claims is 2% of the claim value with a minimum of USD 100. The fee for filling an appeal to the CFI following an employment claim in SCT is 1% of the claim value with a minimum of USD 100 Expedited Resolution: • Hearing dates are set fairly quickly in comparison to the traditional court system in Dubai, leading to faster judgements and resolutions. Accessibility: • Although it is recommended to seek legal counsel, small businesses and individuals can navigate the SCT with relatively diminutive legal knowledge and expertise. Navigating the Small Claims Tribunal Process: Filing a Claim: • Filling a claim with the SCT starts with the claim form found on the DIFC Courts SCT website. The claim form should include the parties involved, details of the dispute, and the remedy you are seeking from the tribunal. • The claimant shall then serve notice of the claim to the defendant in accordance with part 9 of DIFC SCT rules. If the defendant does not respond to the claim form by filing a defence. The SCT will list a consultation after which a default order will be issued against the defendant which can be used to begin enforcement proceedings. Mediation and Settlement Attempts: • Once the claim form is filled, the parties will appear for a consultation with an SCT judge. During this time the defendant and claimant may reach a settlement, circumventing the need for a formal hearing. SCT Hearing: • If both parties fail to reach a settlement agreement, a formal hearing will be listed. • During the hearing, the claimant should present any evidence pertaining to the case such as invoices, email communication, and witness statement. The SCT Judge will listen and review arguments from both sides and will then issue a judgement order. Enforcement of Judgment: • Judgements can be enforced through DIFC Courts enforcement mechanisms and Dubai Courts enforcement mechanisms. It is possible to obtain a fast-track enforcement order through the Dubai Courts after receiving the SCT judgement. Conclusion: In brief, the DIFC Small Claims Tribunal offers a streamlined and accessible solution to resolve low-value disputes for individuals and businesses to reach fair resolutions without the complexities, and extra costs of traditional court proceedings. For those dealing with civil and commercial disputes within the DIFC jurisdiction, the SCT is a reliable and effective way to resolve legal disputes while upholding principles of fairness and justice. It is important to note that the DIFC SCT consultations and hearings are held exclusively in English. Disclaimer: This article serves as an informational guide and does not constitute legal advice. Individuals involved in disputes within the DIFC jurisdiction are encouraged to seek professional legal counsel for specific guidance tailored to their circumstances. References: DIFC, ‘DIFC Courts Small Claims Tribunal (SCT) Case Flowchart’, accessed 16 November 2023, <//www.difccourts.ae/difc-courts/services/small-claims-tribunal> DIFC, ‘Part 9 General Rules About Service’, accessed 16 November 2023, <//www.difccourts.ae/rules-decisions/rules/part-9> Published by Laith Wadi Laith Wadi is a bilingual, Dubai-born Canadian National with a master’s degree in Corporate Law from the UK and a bachelor’s degree in International Development from Canada. He is fluent in Arabic and English and has a passion for commercial contracts, international law, business law, and Blockchain Law. He is well-versed in corporate matters such as mergers and acquisitions and joint ventures.