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Confirmation that foreign lawyers can continue to act in UAE arbitration

There have been reports that the recent UAE Ministerial Resolution No. 972 of 2017 could prevent foreign lawyers from representing clients in arbitration seated in the UAE, raising concerns amongst banks and other arbitration users in the financial services who have agreed to UAE based arbitration in their contracts. This is not the case. Foreign lawyers continue to be able to represent clients in Dubai or DIFC seated arbitrations.

The following key points indicate that there is no cause for alarm:

  • the Dubai Legal Affairs Department has confirmed that all lawyers licensed in Dubai, including foreign and visiting lawyers, can appear before arbitral tribunals seated in Dubai;
  • the UAE Civil Procedure Code governs arbitration in the UAE and provides that the only rules that apply to UAE seated arbitral proceedings are those contained in its arbitration chapter, which does not include Ministerial Resolution No. 972;
  • the DIFC remains unaffected as an arbitral seat since Ministerial Resolution No. 972 has no application in the DIFC; and;
  • where “locals only” laws have appeared in other jurisdictions, the courts have refused to annul awards on the grounds that arbitration is a private agreement and the formalities of court proceedings do not apply.

Further information

This case summary is part of the Allen & Overy Legal & Regulatory Risk Note, a quarterly publication. For more information please contact Karen Birch –, or tel +44 20 3088 3710.

Legal and Regulatory Risk Note
Middle East