Obtained a good result in the Dubai courts under the new UAE arbitration law
|Pending cases as counsel||13|
|Value of pending counsel work||US$592 million|
|Third-party funded cases||0|
|Current arbitrator appointments||7 (3 as chair or sole)|
|Lawyers sitting as arbitrator||4|
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 to 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 13 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 in the Abu Dhabi office, and Dubai-based partners Adrian Chadwick, Walid Azzam, Clare Raven, John Smy and Matthew Page.
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 Financial, Alokozay, Korea Tobacco & Global (formerly Korea Tobacco & Ginseng), the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre Authority, Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, Souq Residences, IFA Hotels and Resorts, Amlak Finance, Noor Islamic Bank and Petrofac International.
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.
Hadef & Partners’ current workload involves high-value disputes in the real estate, construction and hospitality sectors, as well as arbitration-related 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.
The firm had some positive results this year.
In what are some of the first proceedings to brought before the Dubai Courts under the UAE’s new arbitration law, the firm succeeded in helping its client prevail in proceedings to set aside a US$28 million award in its favour. It is the firm’s understanding that they are the first to successfully defeat an attempt to set aside an award under the new law.
In another case, in response to the opposition’s application for an injunction, a team led by Clare Raven succeeded in cross-applying for security. The tribunal granted the injunction on the condition that the respondent paid US$40 million into the DIAC to safeguard against losses which could be suffered by the claimant if the injunction was found to have been wrongly granted. This is the first time in DIAC’s history that it has been custodian of money paid as security for losses.
The firm also succeeded in obtaining a favourable decision from the Executive Committee of DIAC which said that an arbitration should continue against a party that was not a signatory to the arbitration agreement in spite of the respondent’s strong jurisdictional objection.
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.
Dubai-based practitioner Matthew Page was promoted to partner, while, Arabic and English-speaking US national Mahmoud Awad left the firm to join Reed Smith as a partner in Dubai. Partner Jonathan Brown, who served as head of maritime, trade and transport arbitrations moved to Charles Russell Speechlys. Partner Adrain Chadwick has now taken over the role.
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.