RECOGNITION AND ENFORCEMENT OF FOREIGN ARBITRAL AWARD

  1. Introduction

    There are multiple jurisdictions in the UAE that allow for the recognition and enforcement
    of arbitral awards, each based on different laws and procedures.


    1.1 In the UAE, the law governing arbitral proceedings and the recognition and enforcement
    of arbitral awards is the UAE Federal Arbitration Law no. 6 of 2018 issued on the 15 May
    2018 (the “Arbitration Law”). The Arbitration Law is a recent development that has
    introduced substantial new procedures for enforcing domestic arbitral awards, but it did
    not address the process when it comes to foreign arbitral awards.

    1.2 As a result, Cabinet Decision no. 57 of 2018 was issued on 9 December 2018 (the
    Cabinet Decision”) to address the enforcement of foreign arbitral awards more clearly.
    Pursuant to the Cabinet Decision, a new set of rules were introduced to regulate the
    enforcement of foreign arbitral awards and, as a result, the UAE has two different
    regimes for recognition and enforcement of arbitral awards. One for domestic awards
    and one for foreign awards.

    1.3 In this article, we will address the main procedures of the Cabinet Decision to enforce a
    foreign arbitral award in the UAE.
  2. Procedure for Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards

    Onshore Regime


    2.1 The execution procedure for a foreign arbitral award is set out in article 85 of Cabinet
    Resolution number 57/2018 as follows:

    2.1.1 a petition for enforcement must be submitted the Court of Execution where
    execution is being sought.

    2.1.2 the execution judge must issue an order within a maximum of three days from
    the date of filing; and

    2.1.3 the order of the execution judge is subject to the usual channels of judicial
    appeal.

    2.2 The execution judge will only issue an order of execution after checking that the following
    conditions are met, which is similar to the ones under the New York Convention:

    2.2.1 the courts of the UAE had no jurisdiction to review the merits of the award and
    that the tribunal which issued the award did have jurisdiction in accordance
    with the rules governing international judicial jurisdiction laid down in their law;

    2.2.2 the award or order was issued by a court or tribunal having jurisdiction in
    accordance with the law of the country in which it was issued;

    2.2.3 the parties to the action in which the foreign award was issued were
    summoned to attend, and were correctly represented;

    2.2.4 the award or order has acquired the force of res judicata in accordance with
    the law of the court or tribunal that issued it; and

    2.2.5 the award does not conflict with a judgment or order already issued by a court
    in the UAE and contains nothing that conflicts with morals or public policy
    matters in the UAE.

    2.3 Finally, is important to note that the above process was introduced in 2018 in order to
    facilitate the execution process. Nevertheless, it is also important to note that it is a new
    process that has not been thoroughly tested by the courts and there is, naturally, a
    degree of judicial uncertainty as a result.

    2.4 Documents and Information Required By The Party Seeking Recognition And
    Enforcement Of A Foreign Arbitral Award


    2.4.1 The original arbitral award;

    2.4.2 A copy of the arbitration agreement. In the event that the agreement to
    arbitrate is contained in a contractual clause then the full contract will be
    required.

    2.4.3 an Arabic translation of the arbitral award, attested by a competent authority,
    if the award is not issued in Arabic; and

    2.4.4 Proof of serving the final arbitral award to the parties following its issuance
    date.
  3. Conclusion

    On balance, we consider that this new regime provides a more streamlined way for
    enforcement that is close to enforcement of a local court judgment. However, due to the
    fact that both regimes are relatively new, there are still some ambiguity as to the court’s
    direction and application of the new procedures.

    Based on our experience under the old regime, local courts are likely to continue to
    entertain public policy and jurisdiction arguments as substantial grounds to fight
    enforcement of arbitral awards, and in particular foreign arbitral awards.

    Mohamed Abdelrehiem
    Partner & Head of Litigation
    mohamed.abdelrehiem@inp.legal

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