Expert report now required to register commercial lawsuits
Expert report now required to register commercial lawsuits
Latest update from the Dubai Courts to speed up the litigation process
Consistent with the Government’s commitment to fast-track the litigation process, the UAE Cabinet issued Resolution No. 75 amending some provisions of Cabinet Resolution No. 57 of 2018 regarding the regulations of Federal Law No. (11) of 1992 on the Civil Procedures Law. In line with these amendments, the President of the Dubai commercial court issued the circular No. 9 of 2021 on 13 September 2021 (the “Circular”): specific commercial lawsuits are now required to be submitted with an expertise report along with a statement of claim at the time of registration before the court. In this article, we will go through the Circular’s additions, discussing its positive effects and the authoritative effect of consultancy expertise reports and reports prepared before filing lawsuits.
Commercial lawsuits requiring the expert report submission upon registration
The Circular stipulates that the Commercial Cases Registration Department instructs the plaintiff who requests to register one of the cases referred to in this Circular to submit with his statement of claim – before its registration – an expert report prepared by one of the experts registered with Dubai Courts through the Amicable Settlement Center.
Lawsuits arising from the following agreements are affected by the Circular:
- Contracting agreements;
- Dissolution and company liquidation;
- Intellectual property right disputes.
Speeding up the litigation procedure
In this amendment, lawmakers are focusing on expediting the litigation process by expanding the powers granted to the “Case Management Office” in order to refer the case to the competent court ready for adjudication, and the competent court can decide on the case as soon as possible.
In the context of speeding the litigation process, the United Arab Emirates has adopted in recent years many legislative amendments aimed at accelerating litigation procedures under the slogan of prompt justice and ease of doing business, in order for litigants to obtain their rights in the fastest and easiest way possible. It is a major consideration for investors, seeking to achieve their commercial objectives in a business-friendly and safe environment, under the authority of a fast and efficient judiciary.
In light of the aforementioned amendments, the President of the Commercial Court issued Circular No. 9 of 2021 regarding attaching experience reports to some types of commercial lawsuits upon their registration, as will be discussed here.
Previously, the practice was to file the case, then it was deliberated through hearings. When the court required a technical opinion on specific aspects of the matter, an expert was appointed in this respect. This was often time-consuming as the expert submission process, including the objections emitted by parties and related technical reviews, could be lengthy.
The authoritative effect of the expertise reports
The Circular will certainly raise an important legal point, which will be extensively discussed and debated amongst the jurisdiction’s legal and judiciary players, Since an expert report will be submitted in each of the aforementioned lawsuits, then it is important to underline to which extent the expertise reports or reports prepared before filing the lawsuit have authoritative effect:
Speaking of the extent of the authoritative effect of consultancy reports and experts’ reports prepared before filing the case, the best guide for us is what the Dubai Court of Cassation has established in many of its rulings that the trial court has the full authority to understand the facts in a case and to properly assess the evidence and documents submitted to it and compare between them and to give preference to what they are comfortable with, and discard others. The trial court has an absolute authority to assess the reports of consultants submitted to them, so they may take them all or part of them and disregard others when they are satisfied with them and see what convince them of the soundness of the bases on which such report was established, as long as it establishes its decision on justifiable reasons that have constant origin in the documents and lead to the conclusion is reached.
Nonetheless, the trial court is not obliged to respond with special reasons to all objections raised by the litigant to the expert’s report is adopted, or to pay attention to what was mentioned in the other expert reports or the consultancy reports submitted by the litigants, because adopting the report it relied on, along with its grounding indicates that it did not find in the litigants’ defense what undermines the validity of the conclusion of the report and does not deserve a response to it more than what is included in the report itself. It is also not obliged to return the assignment to the expert, appoint another expert or to refer the case to investigation if it finds in the documents of the case and the expertise report sufficiency to form its belief.
Increasing the focus on technical and factual aspects of the disputes
The Circular was issued to limit the litigation time after filing the lawsuit and starting the hearings until the issuance of the preliminary ruling, which is a lot of time that can be shortened according to the text of Article (17) paragraph (3), which states that the lawsuit management office is in charge of preparing and managing the lawsuit before referring it to the competent court, including its registration, notification, and exchange of memorandums, documents and expertise reports between the litigants.
Besides, submitting an expert report attached to statement of claims will achieve many benefits, including, for example:
- Determining the technical points in dispute and conveying a fact-based report to the court from a purely facto-technical point of view without addressing the texts of the law, as the expert’s report focuses only on factual matters and does not deal with the law at all.
- Determining the contentious issues between the litigants in a specific way, instead of being a general lawsuit that needs to discuss each item therein and needs to study the subject from beginning to end, while an expertise report makes it easier for the court to identify the points of contention between litigants, without the need to raise what was previously agreed upon or other matters that are not in dispute between the parties.
- Expediting the litigation period, as the court can, if unsatisfied with any of the reports exchanged between the litigants, adjudicate the case on its basis as long as its judgment is acceptable and has its constant origin in papers.
- Investors and litigants feel the speed of obtaining their right, which they will see technically established before filing a lawsuit. In practice, a litigant may file a lawsuit according to the Circular and he will have to obtain an expert report. However, if the expert issues her/his technical report stating that the litigant does not have the right to file this lawsuit, then the matter will be easier and the position may become clearer to such litigant, therefore she/he might refrain from filing such lawsuit, avoiding exhaustion for her/himself and the opposing party.
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|Ahmed Yehia Mohamed
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