• Family Law

    Inheritance Provisions for non-Muslims in Dubai

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    The Wills and Probate Registry (DIFC WPR) is a public entity of the Dubai Government and an initiative established under the jurisdiction of the DIFC Courts. Heralded by the Governor of the DIFC as being “a first for the MENA region,” the DIFC WPR is the first estate planning tool in the middle east that allows all non-Muslims owning assets in Dubai to register DIFC compliant wills which ensure full testamentary freedom.

    Andrew Lyons, a Senior Associate with Davidson & Co and registered Wills Draftsmen with the DIFC WPR has also been recognised for his role as part of a working group of Dubai based legal practitioners engaged to review and provide input in the draft rules governing the DIFC WPR during the build up to its launch. This has given Davidson & Co a unique insight into the rules and the procedures governing the DIFC Wills.

    Previously, the only options for will registration which was available to non-muslims with assets in Dubai was to register a foreign law Will via the Notary Public and thus, subject to the jurisdiction of the Dubai Courts. However, this process is widely considered to be fraught with inconsistency resulting from perceived ambiguity which often resulted in the application of the forced heirship provisions of the Sharia Law thus compromising ones testamentary freedoms. This in turn, saw many faced with long, drawn out court procedures which are often lengthy and costly.

    Now, and in accordance with the DIFC WPR regulations, individuals owning any assets or property in the Emirate of Dubai are eligible to register English language Wills within the DIFC’s internationally recognised common law principles. This provides legal certainty as to the inheritance of assets upon their death.

    Other unique features of the DIFC WPR include:

    • Guardianship provisions, which allow individuals to specify who will be authorised to have guardianship of their children in the event that both parents are no longer able to do so; and
    • Dubai Land Department (DLD) ties, through which the DIFC are able to notify the DLD of any properties that are the subject of a DIFC Will. This informs the DLD that the transfer of such properties upon death must be subject to the DIFC Will associated with it.
    • subsequent amendments to the Will at little cost.

    Testators have the option of registering four types of Wills:

    1. A Single Will, competent to include any assets located in Dubai, inclusive of guardianship provisions;
    2. Mirror Wills, where a husband and wife register two single Wills that are virtually identical;
    3. A Property Will, which is restricted only to dealing with five properties located in Dubai; and
    4. A Guardianship Will, restricted only to dealing with guardianship provisions for minor children.

    In accordance with the Rules, a DIFC Will must be drafted either by the testator themselves, or by a registered Will’s Draftsmen such as Davidson & Co’s Andrew Lyons.

    For further information or a free consultation on the above, please do not hesitate to contact us.

  • Corporate Law/ Economy

    Economic Growth and Opportunities in Dubai

    dubai economy

    Attempts to diversify the local economy are clearly having an impact in Dubai, presenting a wealth of opportunities for those looking to invest within the region. The United Arab Emirates saw GDP growth in 2015 of some 3.9%, representing a continuation of a long-term trend: in the past 15 years, GDP growth has averaged 4.76%.

    Just to put those growth rates in some sort of perspective, it’s worth noting that GDP growth in the United States during 2015 was just 1.2%. There is clearly a story here that is worth examining, with the UAE economy out-performing many others.

    Diversification

    So what lies behind the overall trend? Although the local economy clearly relies heavily upon oil (accounting for some 77% of exports in 2011), the government have made significant moves to reduce the level of reliance. As of today, the UAE economy is more diversified than that of surrounding states.

    There has been a particular focus on increasing levels of tourism and attracting inward investment via the raised profile of the financial sector. Support for these areas has helped to forge a new approach to the economy.

    The combination of impressive new developments (with Jumeirah Lake Towers being a high profile example) and the use of Free Zones, which offer beneficial conditions for overseas investors, have been at the forefront of the changes. There can be little doubt that Dubai now represents an appealing location for many.

    Doing business in Dubai

    As with any location, there are inevitably some barriers to entry. The changing nature of the financial sector provides solid foundations, which are critical to enabling increased investment within the region. But entering into commercial arrangements can sometimes seem complex for those who are used to doing business in North America and Western Europe. In reality, however, barriers can be relatively easily overcome, as long as the right advice is sought.

    Whether you are looking at franchising arrangements or considering some form of commercial distribution deal, there are certainly opportunities to make the most of the positive economic direction. Indeed, a large number of high profile deals have already been completed.

    To take one example, plans were announced late in 2015 for a world-class hospital to be built in Dubai, together with several clinics, all of which are to be linked to King’s College Hospital in London. The investment, to be managed by Ashmore Group, has an estimated value of some $200 million. The main hospital, scheduled to open in 2018, will provide for up to 100 beds.

    Such initiatives are part of the changing landscape of Dubai. If you’re interested in becoming involved in that transformation, then our team are able to advise on all aspects of commercial law and transactions.

  • Property

    The Dubai Construction Boom

    dubai contruction

    Although there is evidence of a settlement in present day Dubai that dates back more than 5,000 years, the modern transformation of the city largely commenced in 1966, with the discovery of oil within the area.

    Within just 3 years of that discovery, the first oil was being exported and there was a need for rapid development, putting in place the necessary infrastructure. What had commenced was a construction boom, dramatically changing the location and the landscape.

    As the oil price rose in the years that followed, the income enabled continued expansion and a series of infrastructure improvements. There was also recognition, however, that the oil boom couldn’t last forever: there was a need to diversify.

    Diversification

    This drive towards greater diversification has brought about a new construction phase, but one that differs from that driven by the oil sector. In recent years, construction has tended to focus on tourism, commercial developments and impressive new residential structures.

    A clear policy has been followed of attracting an increased number of tourists to the city, with many of the new developments proving central to that ambition. Commercial developments have also helped to boost inward investment, with Dubai now having a higher profile than has ever previously been the case.

    Plans to construct the Mall of the World, for example, reflect this focus: the project will eventually include three separate malls, 35 office blocks and more than 8,000 houses. This actually represents a scaled down version of what was originally planned and yet shows a commitment to constructing on a grand scale.

    New developments

    Such developments also need to be seen in context: on its own, the Mall of the World development would be a significant new inclusion within any city. For Dubai, it’s simply part of the current development boom, which also includes ongoing construction of Dubailand.

    Dubailand, which is not only known for not only high end residential developments but it will also be home to a number of new entertainment and retail complexes creating another part of the increasingly impressive jigsaw that has helped to really make a name for the city.

    Need assistance?

    For those looking to get involved in construction projects within Dubai, are there certain difficulties to be faced here that differ from those seen elsewhere in the world? Inevitably, there are local laws and regulations that need to be adhered to, ranging from corporate governance through to employment laws and the safety of staff, including contractors.

    Although it can seem like there is a maze of legalities to be navigated, our own experience within the real estate and construction industry means that we are well placed to offer the professional advice that is required to ensure that projects run according to plan.

    If you’d like to learn more about our services in this area, then get in touch today to find out how Davidson and Co can deliver real results for your business.

     

  • Corporate Law/ Employment/ Property

    An Insight into the DIFC’s Small Claims Tribunal

    difc small claims tribunal

    The DIFC’s Small Claims Tribunal (SCT) which was established in 2007 is becoming an ever increasingly popular mode of dispute resolution as awareness of its benefits continue to grow. Amongst its benefits, the SCT provides a hugely successful platform through which individuals and companies can resolve their commercial and employment disputes in a very quick and cost effective manner. This is evidenced by virtue of the fact that approximately 90% of cases are resolved within four weeks.

    The DIFC SCT is a Tribunal within the DIFC Courts and thus requires that a case falls under the jurisdiction of the DIFC Courts. This is easily achieved since the DIFC Courts is an opt-in jurisdiction. In turn, therefore, and subject to the conditions referred to below, the SCT is an opt-in jurisdiction in which disputes are resolved in the English language.

    The SCT can hear disputes relating to the employment or former employment of a party (regardless of the value of the dispute) provided both parties jointly elect (in writing) that the dispute be heard by the SCT.

    The DIFC SCT also has the automatic right to hear disputes which are already the subject of DIFC Court’s jurisdiction provided the value of the claim does not exceed AED 500,000 regardless of whether the parties have expressly agreed to give jurisdiction to the SCT specifically (since in this context it is an extension of the DIFC Court’s jurisdiction). Parties can also jointly elect in writing, within the underlying contract (if any) or subsequent to execution of that contract, to extend this AED 500,000 SCT claim cap so as to specifically give the SCT jurisdiction to hear disputes worth up to AED 1,000,000.

    The SCT procures a rapid settlement of disputes, with a focus on amicable settlements. Upon the application of a party to initiate a claim in the SCT, a consultation is usually fixed by an SCT judge within 2 weeks, where the majority of claims are settled amicably. Failing amicable settlement, the SCT judge will schedule a hearing to resolve the claim.

    The DIFC SCT is increasingly being recognised as an ideal opt-in jurisdiction for Dubai based SMEs, looking for a comprehensive resolution of their disputes whilst minimising expenditure and delay.

    Opt into the DIFC to benefit from protection to small claims within the jurisdiction of DIFC Courts.

    Davidson & Co is a boutique law firm established in Dubai in 2008, with lawyers and legal consultants drawn from across the globe. Providing a unique combination of corporate / commercial expertise; dispute resolution solutions; as well as private client advice, we are able to cater to the mass market and offer unparalleled legal services in the region.

    For more information about our capabilities and accolades, please visit our website or contact 04 343 8897 and ask to speak to one of our associates.