The UAE Ministry of Justice (MOJ) has recently launched an electronic mediation (“e-mediation”) platform as a tool to be used by parties for alternative dispute resolution (ADR). The launch of the e-mediation platform is in line with the MOJ’s goal to facilitate the access to ADR services.
The platform will assist parties in settling civil and commercial disputes outside of the UAE courts (both onshore and offshore) or arbitration proceedings through registered mediators. In 2022, the settlement rate between parties through ADR methods in civil and commercial disputes reached 61.3%.
The tool is also part of the UAE’s broader e-government initiative.
In more detail
UAE Mediation Law
The launch of the e-mediation platform follows the enactment of the UAE Federal Law No. 6 of 2021 on Mediation in Civil and Commercial Disputes (the “Mediation Law”). The Mediation Law created for the first time a single legal framework for mediation in the UAE.
The Mediation Law provides for two types of mediation:
- Judicial, to which, with the parties’ consent, a court can refer the parties; and
- Non-judicial, to which the parties may refer before commencing any action if they have entered into a mediation agreement. The Mediation Law provides that the parties shall make an application for non-judicial mediation to a supervising judge.
The Mediation Law outlines the procedures for both judicial and non-judicial mediations, which relevantly provide that the mediator must notify parties of the mediation sessions, including through electronic means (Article 9), and that the session may be held remotely (Article 12).
Importantly, the Mediation Law provides for confidentiality of mediation and does not allow procedures, or documents and information presented during the mediation process, to be disclosed before any court or any other forum, except with the consent of all parties, or unless the documents or information relate to a crime (Article 14).
Functionality of the E-Mediation Platform
The main functionality of the e-mediation platform is to expedite the settlement of disputes through mediation. This is consistent with the UAE’s national priorities of building forward-looking institutions and achieving efficient results.
The unified e-mediation platform contains procedures for the following:
- Registration, renewal and delisting of mediators;
- Management of requests and sessions;
- Payment of mediation expenses and mediator fees; and
- Preparation of the final mediation reports.
Further, for non-judicial mediations, the platform allows the following:
- Submission of applications through the website of the MOJ;
- Examination of the application by the supervising judge;
- Determining the costs of mediation and payment of the costs;
- Holding of sessions by the mediator, preparation of the report and submission to the Mediation and Reconciliation Centre; and
- Review of the report before the judge, approving the agreement, and determining the final fees of the mediator.
The launch of the e-mediation platform also follows the UAE’s commitment of reducing the carbon footprint of international dispute resolution, which has always been a “carbon-heavy” industry. Other recent developments in the area include, inter alia, the ambitious ADGM Arbitration Centre’s launch of the world’s first “mediation in the metaverse” service in November 2022. The “mediation in the metaverse” service aims to enhance virtual mediation by enabling the participants to access a 3D office space.
To speak to us in relation to dispute resolution, international arbitration or ADR matters, or issues more generally, please reach out to the Baker McKenzie contacts below.