Friday, 13 November 2009

Dubai International Financial Centre Pro Bono

The following has just appeared on the news wires: The new pro bono system in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Courts -- the DIFC's independent, common law judicial system tribunal and the first of its kind in the Middle East -- will be tested for the first time shortly in an employment case.

After a period of public consultation, the guidelines for the DIFC's pro bono programme took effect last month and the scheme immediately attracted interest from the legal community with seven law firms having already registered their voluntary services. To date, five pro bono litigant applications have been filed at the DIFC Courts. The first pro bono case will be heard in the Court of First Instance, most likely before the end of the year.

The IBA Pro Bono and Access to Justice Committee were consulted on the preparation of the guidelines and were pleased to be able to contribute to the establishment of this new venture. Very few similar systems have been introduced across the globe (the US Immigration Court system has one, as does the US Tax Court, and we would welcome news of any others) and it will be interesting to see, therefore, how it develops. Perhaps it will also provide a boost to the provision of pro bono elsewhere in the Emirates, the GCC and the Middle East as a whole?

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IBA Pro bono and Access to Justice Committee