The DIFC Courts, Dubai's established English-language, commercial common law judicial system, on Tuesday published an expanded mandatory code of conduct offering greater protection to businesses operating globally.
The revised code amplifies the provisions already in place and is designed to ensure the increasing number of lawyers using the DIFC Courts maintain the highest standards of professional conduct when representing their clients.
The DIFC Courts mandatory code of conduct, introduced in 2009, was supplemented in 2013 with the launch of a voluntary code of best legal professional practice to serve as a benchmark for behaviour and professional standards. The revised mandatory code integrates the most important elements of the voluntary code, including taking a practitioner's litigation expertise and their conduct outside of the DIFC into consideration when they are practising before the DIFC Courts.
These changes have been necessitated by the rapid growth of the DIFC Courts in recent years and their increasingly international workload. Since their jurisdiction was opened to businesses worldwide in October 2011, the number of legal practitioners registered with the DIFC Courts has risen by 58 per cent, from 220 to 347.
Michael Hwang, chief justice of the DIFC Courts, said: "With the number of registered DIFC Courts practitioners increasing steadily in recent years, it has been imperative to maintain a robust, sophisticated and effective Code of Conduct that ensures the highest standards of professional conduct from lawyers operating in the DIFC. The expanded code offers even greater levels of protection to clients, helping to foster regional commerce by setting a standard of legal conduct which ranks among the very best in the world.”
Philip Punwar, chairman of the code of conduct sub-committee of the DIFC Courts users committee, said: "The adoption of a scheme of binding supplementary code of conduct practice directions will help ensure that the meaning and effect of the mandatory code is kept current. Taken together, the revised mandatory code and the latest supplementary code of conduct practice direction increase the court's oversight of practitioners whilst simultaneously refining the complaints procedure, including the procedure for appeals.”
The mandatory code of conduct was revised by a team led by Natasha Bakirci, assistant registrar of the DIFC Courts, following consultation with stakeholders in the U.A.E. legal community.