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Emirates Maritime Arbitration Centre spreads its wings with London roadshow

Officials of the newly formed Emirates Maritime Arbitration Centre (EMAC) were in the UK yon Monday to host an awareness-raising event for the Dubai-based institution among London’s legal community. It marked EMAC’s first presentation outside its home country and was held in the presence of the UAE Ambassador to the UK.

Sir Anthony Colman, chairman of the EMAC Board of Trustees (pictured) and Executive Committee, began by explaining that the new centre had been set up under a 2016 decree by Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. A maritime arbitration centre in the UAE was needed, he added, because the country is a fast-growing shipping and trading hub far distant from other arbitration centres in London, Singapore, Hong Kong or the US.

EMAC’s default seat for disputes in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Court -where Colman served as Deputy Chief Justice from 2010 to 2013 – represents a “good choice”, he added, because “a great number of documents there are in English, and it is based on England’s Common Law system.”

Board of Trustees member Richard Briggs, executive partner with Dubai-based law firm Hadef Partners, explained about the governance of EMAC. He described it as a completely independent body that was being run on a non-profit basis, allowing it to charge “pretty modest” fees for what is expected to be “fast, efficient and enforceable dispute resolution,” the new centre able to offer both emergency and fast-track arbitration.

EMAC is not seeking to take business from other centres, he added, but merely to encourage greater use of maritime arbitration within its own Middle East region.

Establishing a strong international reputation for EMAC will require “playing the long game,” Briggs conceded to Seatrade Maritime News afterwards. But at the same time it has to be ready to “play the short game as well,” reacting swiftly and efficiently to any disputes that do come along, or risk receiving a bad press. At least all the necessary infrastructure is now in place, he concluded, and EMAC “open for business.”

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