The Middle East's legal framework

With onshore and offshore jurisdictions, common law and civil law systems and processes, and proceedings in both English and Arabic, the Middle East's legal framework is both unique and challenging. For parties looking to resolve disputes in the region, it can also be overwhelming, presenting an array of possibilities and options.

The onshore courts, where proceedings are conducted in Arabic, operate a civil law based system. In contrast, the offshore jurisdictions, which include the Dubai International Financial Centre in Dubai, the Abu Dhabi Global Market in Abu Dhabi and the Qatar Financial Centre in Qatar, are free to adopt their own civil and commercial laws and procedures, and to establish their own courts. Proceedings in the offshore courts are conducted in English and a common law based system is operated.

Arbitrations can be seated in either the onshore or offshore jurisdictions, and can import elements from one or both legal traditions, depending on the circumstances. With arbitration continuing to develop as a dispute resolution mechanism, there are now a number of arbitral institutions established and operating in the region.

'Dispute resolution in the Middle East' is an interactive tool designed to equip you with a better understanding of the legal framework as it applies to the various stages of onshore and offshore litigation and arbitration – from establishing a Power of Attorney to understanding the costs associated with your dispute.

Whilst the tool primarily focuses on the United Arab Emirates (UAE), DLA Piper also has offices in Oman, Bahrain and Qatar, along with a highly experienced team of Litigation, Arbitration and Investigations lawyers who are equipped to advise on disputes both in the UAE and more broadly across the Middle East region.

Return to the Dispute resolution in the Middle East tool

About DLA Piper

Having established our presence in the Middle East in 2005, we have grown to become one of the largest international law firms in the region, with 27 partners and over 100 lawyers operating from offices in the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Bahrain and Qatar. Our lawyers are fully versed in their local and cultural business communities. We bring a  deep understanding of the countries in which we operate, their regulatory environments, market drivers, legal practices and customs – understanding that is further informed by international insight and an appreciation of global best practice.

With 7 Partners and over 30 other lawyers, our Litigation, Arbitration and Investigations team is one of the largest and most highly regarded dispute resolution practices in the Middle East, having won ‘Litigation team of the Year 2019’ at The Middle East Legal Awards. We are the only firm ranked Band 1 in all dispute resolution categories for international firms in Legal 500 2020 (United Arab Emirates).

Our lawyers specialise in complex, high value, multi-jurisdictional disputes covering the full spectrum of contentious matters, including international arbitration, offshore litigation, onshore litigation in the UAE courts, investigations, sanctions and compliance-related actions. We offer a powerful combination of regional expertise and global reach, ensuring that we are ideally placed to handle our clients' commercial disputes or investigation needs in any forum or jurisdiction.

As one of few international firms in the UAE which boasts an integrated UAE court litigation practice, we can provide a seamless end-to-end litigation service delivered to international standards at a competitive price.

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