On 20 December 2023, the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry announced that the Abu Dhabi Commercial Conciliation and Arbitration Centre (ADCCAC) will be shut down in early 2024, to be replaced with the Abu Dhabi International Arbitration Centre (styled as arbitrateAD).

The Chamber of Commerce has stated that all existing arbitrations under the ADCCAC will continue to be administered by ADCCAC, with new cases from 1 February 2024 to be brought under the governance structure and rules of arbitrateAD.

While the rules of the new Abu Dhabi International Arbitration Centre are yet to be published, the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry has announced an experienced governance team responsible for the Centre, led by His Excellency Abdulla Mohamed Al Mazuri (chairman of the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce), who will serve as Chairman of the Board.

Comparisons will inevitably be drawn between the arbitrateAD handover provisions and the similar handover provisions issued in Dubai effecting the transition of the DIFC-LCIA to the Dubai International Arbitration Centre (‘DIAC’) in 2021. Parties with existing contracts referring disputes to ADCCAC should carefully consider the effect of the handover provisions.

In advance of the publication of the rules, it is not known whether arbitrateAD will include Abu Dhabi (or perhaps ADGM) as its default seat of arbitration in the event no seat is agreed between the parties – in the same way as the DIAC rules provide for a DIFC seat in such circumstances. It also remains to be seen whether there will be any formal association between arbitrateAD and the ADGM Arbitration Centre.

The launch of arbitrateAD is the latest in a recent string of changes to the landscape of arbitration in the Middle East, following the UAE Federal Arbitration Law (2018), the launch of the Oman Commercial Arbitration Centre (2018) and updated rules for both DIAC (2022) and the Saudi Centre for Commercial Arbitration (2023). The ADCCAC rules were last updated in 2013, and so this latest move provides an exciting opportunity to promote arbitration in Abu Dhabi.

For more information, please contact Stuart Paterson, Managing Partner Middle East and Head of Middle East Dispute Resolution, Nick Oury, Partner, Sam Hunt, Associate (Australia) or your usual Herbert Smith Freehills contact.

Stuart Paterson
Stuart Paterson
Partner
+971 4 428 6308
Nick Oury
Nick Oury
Partner
+971 4 428 6385
Sam Hunt
Sam Hunt
Associate (Australia)
+971 4 428 6317