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GAR 100 - 11th Edition

Hadef & Partners

05 April 2018

Taking on major real estate disputes in the emirates

Pending cases as counsel 38
Value of pending counsel work US$1.2 billion
Treaty cases 0
Current arbitrator appointments
3 (of which 3 are 
as sole or chair)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator  2

When Hadef Al-Dhaheri set up Hadef & Partners in 1980, he was one of only 22 practising lawyers licensed in the UAE, making it one of the oldest firms in the jurisdiction. The arbitration practice took off when executive partner Richard Briggs, who now heads the group, won what is thought have been the first-ever award from the Dubai International Arbitration Centre – US$5 million for Al Khaleej Sugar – and then secured ratification in the Dubai courts in 2004.

Since then the group’s expertise and numbers have grown. It has 14 partners acting in dispute resolution and prides itself on its “tried and tested formula” of combining western-trained expatriate lawyers with home-grown talent.

Aside from Briggs, names to know at the firm are executive partner Basil Siddiqi, who heads the real estate and construction group; maritime group head Jonathan Brown; and Dubai partner Adrian Chadwick.


The firm has offices in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. It advises in both Arabic and English, as well as several other languages.

Who uses it?

Clients of note include Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, Caterpillar Inc, Alokozay Group brand Korea Tomorrow & Global, the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre Authority, Gulf Navigation Holding, Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, Souq Residences, IFA Hotels and Resorts, Amlak Finance, Noor Islamic Bank and Petrofac International.

Track record

The firm is reticent about its clients. One high-profile win on the enforcement side was for the Sudanese Ministry of Irrigation, which it helped to resist enforcement of a 25-year-old ICC award in the UAE courts on public policy grounds in 2014.

Briggs successfully defended three arbitrators who were sued by Meydan Group, one of Dubai’s best-connected real estate conglomerates, for allegedly breaching their own confidentiality order by disclosing the content of settlement talks. The suit was thrown out by Dubai’s cassation court in 2015.

Recent events

Hadef & Partners’ current workload involves high-value disputes in the real estate, construction and hospitality sectors, as well as enforcement proceedings in the Dubai and DIFC courts. Many cases concern disputes between foreign sub-contractors and local companies over material adverse change clauses, cost overruns and non-payment, following the collapse of the UAE property market in 2009.

After 40 years of specialisation, engineering and construction group head Anthony Edwards retired from the firm in 2018. He was replaced as group head by John Smy. Mahmoud Awad has been promoted to partner, while Jonathan Brown, head of maritime, trade and transport, left to join Charles Russell Speechlys.

Client comment

A construction client in two ICC arbitrations in Abu Dhabi and Dubai says he was drawn to the firm for its combination of local UAE law knowledge and its experience of international arbitration. He highly recommends executive partner Basil Siddiqi.

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