Breaking New Ground

Maritime Arbitration Body Expounds Strengths

By Kate Jones

Despite having only been in existence since 2016, the Middle East’s sole maritime arbitration center is already making considerable strides within the breakbulk and project cargo domain.

The Emirates Maritime Arbitration Centre, or EMAC, which is a strategy of the UAE government and has already established a panel of arbitrators across the world, said that it has been “embraced” by the maritime industry. The body has established a specialized breakbulk panel and holds monthly breakfasts as part of a bespoke seminar series discussing key legal concerns from stakeholders.

Created by a decree issued by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the UAE’s vice president and prime minister and the ruler of the Emirate of Dubai, EMAC offers impartial services connected to the resolution of maritime disputes through arbitration, mediation and related dispute mechanisms. Claiming some of the world’s renowned maritime arbitrators, mediators and experts, it aims to offer time-effective and cost-effective processes and quality resources to facilitate case resolution in the UAE, for its region and farther afield. Last year, two and a half years after commencing operations, it began to receive its first cases.

The arbitration model EMAC offers is a hybrid one that it said is designed to serve the maritime, logistics and offshore energy industries. Under this model, traditional arbitration, fast-track arbitration for smaller claims, emergency arbitration, ad hoc arbitration and mediation are all available. According to the organization, this is the first time that a maritime arbitration center has provided such a wide array of alternative dispute resolution services all based on international standards.

Internationalism is an important part of EMAC’s offering. The organization said that although it began in Dubai, it is international in nature because in a dispute, an international party always exists. It also said that as well as complementing the existing UAE arbitration centers, it complements international centers, like the London Maritime Arbitrators Association, or LMAA. EMAC has agreed to exchange arbitration panel names with the LMAA, and has also invited the LMAA’s panelists to join the Dubai center.

“The beauty of arbitration is the choice of setting it offers,” said Majid Obaid bin Bashir, EMAC’s acting chairman and secretary general. “The competition remains in the high quality of service. We have different types of rules for different types of disputes.”

Looking Ahead

This year will see EMAC continue its campaign of raising awareness, with the organization set to increase its presence at events and invite more specialists to its panels. One of the main projects for the year is implementing roundtables with industry.

EMAC believes that it must focus on its link with the industry in order to ensure that the support it lends is recognized.

In 2019, it will tackle more of the bigger maritime concerns as part of a knowledge series, with the objective being “to provide these companies with firsthand information as to why the EMAC services are credible and reliable.

“As we head into our third year of operations, our focus is to keep the awareness going, but also to help organizations within the region understand the benefits of ensuring that their dispute resolution and jurisdiction clauses in their standard forms are correct,” Majid said.

“These … terms are often overlooked during negotiations and have been the pain of many disputes in the past, which results in unnecessary loss of time and money.

“It is important that the maritime, offshore energy and logistics sectors know that they have support in alternative dispute resolution services through EMAC,” he added.  

Kate Jones is a specialist port and shipping reporter based in the UK.

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