BICBA urged to cancel arbitration seminar in Dubai



Radha Stirling

The British Irish Commercial Bar Association (BICBA) should cancel an arbitration seminar in Dubai because of wide-scale legal abuse and corruption in the UAE, a campaign group has said.

BICBA is hosting a seminar titled United Arab Emirates as a World Centre for Arbitration on Tuesday 14 March in conjunction with the University of Dubai and the Dubai International Arbitration Centre (DIAC).

Barrister Ben Cooper of Doughty Street Chambers, non-practising solicitor David Haigh, and Detained in Dubai founder Radha Stirling have raised the issue with BICBA directly.

Ms Stirling has alleged that Habib Al Mulla, chair of DIAC and a speaker at the BICBA event, has been “directly responsible for serious legal malpractice against British nationals that would see him disbarred and very likely imprisoned in the UK”.

She said the case, which is outlined on her organisation’s website, is “a perfectly evidenced example of legal abuse and corruption in the UAE”.

Ms Stirling added: “We, as an organisation, have dealt with countless other cases of very similar abuses, confirming that the UAE has an immature legal system, is subject to regular abuse and can not be considered a stable or competent jurisdiction for any dispute resolution or arbitration, particularly when the Chairman himself is a practitioner of these abuses.

“The UAE’s legal failings have been highlighted in UK judicial proceedings, in the media and via our organisation’s website, which has since been banned and censored in the UAE. However, it is also hidden by the Dubai Media Office whose public relations department tries to disguise these regular failings with positive publicity.

“The government has chosen to invest in public relations, rather than in actual judicial improvement, the elimination of abuse and corruption.

“The BICBA should reconsider promoting a jurisdiction that systematically abuses British nationals for, if they do, they are supporting and condoning these violations.”

Mr Cooper, an extradition barrister, said: “I have successfully defended a number of clients against extradition requests from the UAE, have worked closely with Radha Stirling of Detained in Dubai, and have become well versed with UAE judicial abuses of procedure and law.

“Based on my experience and knowledge, I would not recommend that the BICBA promote the DIAC as a centre for arbitration at this time. The UAE needs to address and remedy judicial failings before it should be considered as a possible legal jurisdiction of choice.”