By Iain McKenny

Vannin have for a long time been closely collaborating with the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) in the creation of a Draft Practice Direction on third party funding (now open for public consultation until 19 February 2017) with a view to assisting the local courts in understanding this much needed access to justice tool in the region.

Mark Beer, OBE (Chief Executive of the Dubai International Financial Centre's Dispute Resolution Authority) and his team have studied closely the different jurisdictional models of third party funding available and have compendiously listed in the draft practice direction relevant judicial considerations, dos and don'ts for funders, claimants and claimant lawyers. In so doing they have sought to assist a court that seeks to draw a firm line between those professional third party funders that respect the autonomy of the claimants they support and those ad-hoc funders who would seek to subrogate through the back door. The former are welcome. The latter, are not.

The draft practice direction is an innovative and forwarding looking approach that seeks to encapsulate the spirit of the Association of Litigation Funders Code of Conduct and the best industry practice. For example, as a matter of UAE law, as with many other jurisdictions, counsel are not under a specific obligation to disclose their relationship to a Funder. However, Vannin have long believed that transparency is the best policy and regularly convey their willingness to claimant and claimant lawyer to disclose the existence of that relationship to the adjudicating body. This practice is now enshrined in the current clause 4 of the DIFC Draft Practice Direction which stipulates that the funded party to a dispute must put the other parties on notice that they have entered into a funding agreement.

By bringing funding into the light it will discourage ad-hoc funders who may otherwise be inclined to "price the risk" and invest in a multitude of less than meritorious cases at exorbitant terms in the hope of winning a few claims and at the cost of clogging up the judicial system. In contrast, it will also allow those professional third party funders who seek to support only meritorious claims to be recognised as powerful signs of the strength of a claim before the courts.

It is a bold development by the forward looking DIFC and should be embraced.

Notes to Editors:

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