The administering body of the DIFC – LCIA Arbitration Centre in Dubai, the DIFC Arbitration Institute (DAI), was abolished last month through Decree No. 34 of 2021. The same Decree also abolished the Emirates Maritime Arbitration Centre (EMAC). The workflows, processes, staff, and assets of the two institutes are to be transferred and merged into Dubai International Arbitration Centre (DIAC), to consolidate arbitration proceedings in Dubai.
The Decree further states that the DIAC is to have a branch located in the DIFC, apart from its onshore branch in Dubai. Clarifications with regards to existing agreements providing for arbitration under the DIFC-LCIA Arbitration Rules were also made, stating that these agreements were to remain valid and effective to avoid disrupting the processes of parties. Along similar lines, arbitral tribunals already formed under the DIFC-LCIA Rules as of the effective date of the Decree are to continue handling the cases entrusted to them, albeit with the supervision of the DIAC.
For parties entering into new arbitration agreements, it would appear wise to refrain from stating that the proceedings would take place under DIFC-LCIA Rules and should perhaps consider alternatives such as the rules of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) or the LCIA rules.