Claim No: SCT 261/2023
THE DUBAI INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL CENTRE COURTS
IN THE SMALL CLAIMS TRIBUNAL OF DIFC COURTS
ORDER WITH REASONS OF H.E. JUSTICE MAHA AL MHEIRI
UPON this Claim having been filed on 11 July 2023
AND UPON the Defendant filing an Acknowledgment of Service indicating its intention to contest the jurisdiction of the DIFC Courts dated 2 August 2023 (the “Defendant’s Jurisdictional Challenge”)
AND UPON this Claim having been called on 10 August 2023 for a Jurisdiction hearing before H.E. Justice Maha Al Mheiri, with the Claimant’s and the Defendant’s representatives in attendance
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED THAT:
1. The Defendant’s Jurisdictional Challenge is denied.
2. The DIFC Courts have jurisdiction to hear and determine this claim.
3. The SCT Registry shall list a Consultation in due course.
SCT Judge and Assistant Registrar
Date: 29 August 2023
SCHEDULE OF REASONS
1. The Claimant filed a claim with the DIFC Courts’ Small Claims Tribunal (the “SCT”) in respect of alleged unpaid invoices relating to the Claimant’s supply of a boom lift and low level access equipment for the Defendant which resulted in the Claimant issuing invoices for the total amount of AED 21,912.53.
2. The Claimant and the Defendant are both companies registered and located outside of the DIFC.
3. In response to the Claim, the Defendant filed an Acknowledgment of Service contesting the jurisdiction of the DIFC Courts on the basis that the parties did not agree to the jurisdiction of the DIFC Courts and the location of the site and the company is located in Abu Dhabi.
4. The Claimant provided the Court with documents relating to the dispute (including a copy of the quotation, Hire Agreement and Hire Invoice), and submits that all of the documents clearly state that the DIFC Courts’ SCT will be the dispute resolution forum in case of a dispute.
5. The Claimant submits that it had sent the Defendant a quotation via email dated 11 November 2020, along with the terms and conditions, which reads as follows:
“the entire agreement shall be governed by, and construed in accordance with, the laws of the United Arab Emirates and the Emirates of Dubai and any disputes or claims arising out of or relating to it shall be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Dubai International Financial Centre Small Claims Tribunal for all claims up to and including the maximum financial value permitted for the Small Claims Tribunal as at the date of filling the claim or application, and to the Dubai International Financial Centre Court of First Instance for any claims over the maximum financial value permitted for the Small Claims Tribunal; to which the parties irrevocably submit”.
6. However, the Defendant’s case is that:
(a) Neither party to the case is a company registered in the DIFC;
(b) The Claimant had failed to submit any documents to show or confirm that the parties agreed to refer any of their disputes to the jurisdiction of the DIFC Courts; and
(c) As the DIFC Courts handles cases and claims arising out of the DIFC and its operations and any civil or commercial claims or actions where the parties agree in writing to file such claim or action with it whether before or after the dispute arises, provided that such agreement is made pursuant to specific, clear and express provisions, the Defendant submits that the DIFC Courts lack proper legal jurisdiction to review and determine the case.
(d) The jurisdiction for this matter should be with the Court in which the prosecuted residence preside, which is Abu Dhabi.
7. The Defendant therefore requests that the Courts dismiss the claim for lack of jurisdiction.
8. I find that the terms and conditions of the Claimant’s quotation are clear and state that“These standard Terms & Conditions will override any terms and conditions you may seek to impose on us including in any LPO you may give us”. These terms and conditions have been accepted by the Defendant’s issuance of an LPO and therefore an agreement has been formed to the effect that the quotation as per the Claimant’s terms and conditions shall apply throughout the relationship between the parties.
9. In addition, the Hire Agreement also included the term which states the DIFC Courts’ jurisdictional clause.
10. The Invoices include a term which states:
“All Disputes or claims arising out of or relating to this invoice shall be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Dubai International Financial Centre Small Claims Tribunal…”
11. I also find that upon the Defendant receiving the equipment, it has accepted the terms of the Claimant by its performance.
12. The jurisdiction of the DIFC Courts is determined by Article 5(A) of the Judicial Authority Law, Dubai Law No. 12 of 2004, as amended (the “JAL”), which provides a number of limited gateways through which the DIFC Courts may exercise jurisdiction over a claim, which are, as relevant:
“(a) Civil or commercial or Employment claims and actions to which the DIFC or any DIFC Body, DIFC Establishment or Licensed DIFC Establishment is a party;
(b) Civil or commercial or Employment claims and actions arising out of or relating to a contract or promised contract, whether partly or wholly concluded, finalised or performed within DIFC or will be performed or is supposed to be performed within DIFC pursuant to express or implied terms stipulated in the contract;
(c) Civil or commercial or Employment claims and actions arising out of or relating to any incident or transaction which has been wholly or partly performed within DIFC and is related to DIFC activities; …
(e) Any claim or action over which the Courts have jurisdiction in accordance with DIFC Laws and DIFC Regulations…”
13. Although the Claimant and the Defendant are companies registered and located outside of the DIFC, the contract between them includes a clause which exclusively opts-in to the jurisdiction of the DIFC Courts.
14. Therefore, I am of the view that the DIFC Courts’ SCT, pursuant to Article 5(A)(b) of the JAL may exercise its jurisdiction to hear and determine this claim.