Trade ties between Dubai and Singapore, two of the world’s leading business hubs, have been strengthened following the signing of a Memorandum of Guidance by the DIFC Courts and the Supreme Court of Singapore. The memorandum offers companies operating in both markets additional certainty about the strength of a contract by describing how the courts will enforce each other’s money judgments.
The memorandum was signed by the courts’ respective Chief Justices, Michael Hwang and Sundaresh Menon, during a ceremony in Dubai. Chief Justice Menon was in the UAE to give the keynote address at the first DIFC Courts lecture of 2015. His talk titled “International Commercial Courts: Towards a Transnational System of Dispute Resolution” was particularly pertinent as it followed this month’s launch of the Singapore International Commercial Court (SICC), which forms part of the Supreme Court of Singapore.
The UAE and Singapore have become strong trading partners in recent years. According to estimates, bilateral trade between both countries reached AED 80 billion in 2013, with the UAE being Singapore’s tenth largest trading partner.
Michael Hwang, Chief Justice of the DIFC Courts, said: “The timing of this memorandum is hugely significant given the very recent launch of the SICC, which like the DIFC Courts, is aimed at resolving international commercial disputes. We look forward to working in tandem with our friends in Singapore to support the needs of international business by efficiently dealing with the ever increasing number of cross-border commercial disputes.
“We have also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with regard to mutual references on questions of law. This will introduce into the Middle East the emerging concept of active comity between different jurisdictions where the laws of one jurisdiction are in issue in a trial in a case in another jurisdiction. DIFC Courts and the Supreme Court of Singapore have agreed that, where a case is filed in either of their Courts which requires a decision on a matter of law of the other country, the first (local) Court will consider directing the parties to have that question of foreign law determined by the Court of that other country. This will represent another milestone in the DIFC Courts’ international relations with other judiciaries. “
Since their jurisdiction was opened to businesses worldwide in October 2011, the DIFC Courts have established one of the world’s strongest enforcement regimes. DIFC Courts’ judgments can be enforced internationally through treaties such as the GCC Protocol and Riyadh Convention; treaties with China and France; and arrangements with many common law courts overseas, including the Commercial Court of England and Wales, the Federal Court of Australia, the New South Wales Supreme Court, and the High Court of Kenya (Commercial and Admiralty Division).