Dubai Courts Rule on Expert Reports for Construction Disputes
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Expert Reports for Construction Disputes

Dubai Courts rule on expert witness reports for construction disputes

On September 13, 2021, the Dubai Courts published Circular No. 9/2021, requiring the submission of an approved expert-prepared technical report when filing a statement of claim connected to construction, liquidation, or intellectual property claims for acceptance of the claim. The Circular advises the Dubai Courts’ case management office to refuse registration of any claim relating to construction disputes, liquidation, or intellectual property unless substantiated by an expert report provided by an authorized court expert. Authorized experts have registered with the Centre for Amicable Settlement of Disputes, linked with the Dubai Courts, and formed following Dubai Law No. 16/2009.

Why is a Court Expert report required?

The Circular explains why an expert report is necessary due to the complexity of construction, liquidation, and intellectual property issues. Additionally, augmenting the claim statement with an approved expert report would aid in the preparation and speedy trial proceedings. It is critical to emphasize that the Circular does not preclude an authorized expert from collaborating with other experts. The Circular puts no limits on reports created collaboratively by approved experts and third-party or international experts (such as the DIFC or other Emirates such as Abu Dhabi or otherwise).

Time bar concerns 

It is unclear from the Circular if this additional condition applies just to filing claims with the Dubai Primary Court. The wording of the Circular is broad and seems to apply to all judicial circuits and perhaps the Dubai Appeals and Cassation Courts. This additional prerequisite for acceptance of construction, liquidation, and intellectual property claims provides a substantial factor for plaintiffs concerning time restrictions being respected. An expert report would inevitably increase the preparatory time necessary for filing a claim with a particular court.

The statute of limitations for civil and commercial actions usually is between two and fifteen years, which allows plaintiffs considerable time to prepare.

Dubai Primary Court judgments must be appealed to the Dubai Appeals Court within thirty calendar days. The Dubai Cassation Court must examine a Dubai Appeals Court verdict within sixty calendar days after notice of the judgment. As the Circular is ambiguous as to whether it is limited to the Dubai Primary Court or not, it would be advisable for existing Petitioners to factor in the possibility of obtaining an expert report from an authorized expert before proceeding to a higher level of court.

Consideration of time constraints in the case of urgent requests

Another factor to consider is the urgency of petitions (such as freezing orders or travel bans).

Contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, and others take the first step in resolving construction claims disputes by seeking an urgent matters court to obtain a freeze order against the performance guarantee/s associated with the project in question.

In case of urgent issues judge would approve the restraining order against the liquidation of the performance guarantee/s, subject to the trial court filing a significant claim within eight calendar days. Under the new requirement imposed by the Circular, plaintiffs would be compelled to produce an expert report as needed by an authorized expert within this eight-day time limit. Otherwise, the case management officer will decline to register the case, and if the eight-day period expires, the injunction against the liquidation of the performance guarantee/s will be void.

The authority of the case management office under Civil Code

The Circular relates to the provisions of the Civil Procedures Law (as revised by Decisions 57/2018 and 75/2021), most notably Article 16(2)(e):

The claim statement should include the following information…

(e) The lawsuit’s subject matter, the demands, and the grounds thereof.

Additionally, Article 17(3):

“The case management office is responsible for the case’s preparation and administration prior to referral to the competent court, including its registration, announcement, exchange of memoranda and documents, and expert reports between the litigants.”

Additionally, Article 20(1) states that:

In the event of remote communication technology or electronic registration:

(1) The plaintiff must provide several copies of his statement of claim equal to the number of defendants upon registration. A copy must be stored electronically or in a separate file for the case management office. Additionally, the plaintiff should include with the statement of claim copies of any supporting documents and any expert reports prepared by qualified experts.

How Farahat & Co. may assist you?

As a pioneer in Expert Witness services, Farahat & Co. can assist you in your legal matters. Our reputation for excellent service ensures that we are experienced in this sector and many others. UAE courts, Abu Dhabi courts, Sharjah courts and prosecutions, and all other federal courts recognize us as an expert. In some instances, the judge or arbitrator cannot comprehend the complexities of the case because they can’t be expected to know everything. They are experts in their specialized area but not in other disciplines which are quite technical like finance, construction disputes, medicine, engineering, IT, Intellectual Property, etc. That’s why the Court Expert or Expert Witness function is critical.

Mohamed Ali Farahat has worked on various forensic accounting assignments, which include operational and financial audits, reconstruction of accounting statements, financial information analysis, and investigation of fraud and financial distress. Read more