Emirates Law Magazine Volume 09 Page 57

 In November, the DIFC Academy of Law hosted its annual LegalGala – a celebration of legal work in Dubai, the UAE and widerMiddle East. The event enabled Middle East legal practitioners to celebrate as a unified international legal community, award achievements and highlighted the role practitioners are playing in the development of the legal system in the region. The event’s international flavour was highlighted by the presence of JusticeJudith Prakash from Singapore who recently joined the DIFC Courts’ international bench, and the Singaporean Ambassador Samuel Tan, whose attendance was particularly appropriate as the DIFC Academy of Law was imodelled on the Singapore Academy of Law. David Gallo, Director of the DIFC Academy of Law stated the evening was an ideal opportunity to say thank you for contributions made by members of the legal profession to the DIFC Dispute Resolution Authority over the year and explained how support for the event (sponsored by Lexis Middle East, Barbri the legal education provider, the American University of the Emirates, Thompson Reuters, BMW, asset recovery company SAS, and Outer Temple Chambers) was enabling the Academy to pursue its pro bono work and other key projects. 

The Academy of Law’s Work 

David Gallo explained how the Academy’s mission is ‘delivering legal education in the Middle East that has global value’ and noted this was consistent with the Dubai Vision which is that ‘Justice and Education are vital pillars for economic development’. He went on to explain how Academy’s strategy has been to attempt to fill gaps in traditional legal education by devising new ways of preparing lawyers for international commercial law practice, and added as global corporate clients conduct their business in multiple legal systems, the most effective international lawyers serve the needs of their clients in an increasingly complex legal environment. The Academy organises its activities around five main areas which include learning and development, legal community development, publications, practitioner regulation and provision of pro bono services. Its objectives include increasing cross jurisdiction professional competencies, promoting ethical practices and creating the IP of the legal profession. Dr Michael Hwang, Chief Justice of the DIFC Courts and Head of the DIFC Dispute Resolution Authority also stated that, ‘Here in Dubai we have focused on raising the knowledge of our local civil lawyers about common laws in general and DIFC laws and procedures in particular since this is a new topic to virtually every civil lawyer since there is not yet any formal university instruction in these subjects in Dubai’. He added that as this first stage of the programme was now firmly established and ongoing, the Academy of Law was now turning its attention to educating local common lawyers in civil law especially UAE law, and with the possible exception of Quebec, the DIFC may be the only jurisdiction teaching common law to civil lawyers and civil law to common law lawyers . The Chief Justice added the Academy had also been inspired by the Singapore Academy of Law to build up an established portfolio of legal publications on a range of topics of practical use to practitioners. He noted this had begun with the Laws of the DIFC book series which are commentaries on the laws of the DIFC and the first writings on the DIFC laws on a comprehensive basis.The presence of the DIFC DRA’s founding father Sir Anthony Evans was noted and he was thanked for his ongoing active involvement in the development of the DIFC’s legal capabilities in his capacity as President of the Dubai World Tribunal. Dr Hwang also reflected on the way in which it would have been hard to imagine at the start that it was possible to develop the DIFC Courts to such a peak of excellence that developing countries from all over the world are now knocking at its doors and asking to tap into the Courts’ expertise in developing a financial centre with an independent legal system from the rest of the host country. The DRA is currently involved in a consultancy project providing advice to Kazakhstan on the development of the Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC) . Dr Hwang ended by asking the audience to applaud the Academy of Law and the DRA stating, ‘They deserve your accolades which will inspire them to serve you better’.

LEGAL GALA AWARD WINNERS

YOUNG LAWYER OF THE YEAR

Luke Tapp, Senior Associate, Pinsent Masons

LAWYERS LAWYER OF THE YEAR

Jamie Liddington, Partner & Head of Employment, Hadef & Parners

LEGAL EDUCATION LAW FIRM OF THE YEAR

Clyde & Co LLP

PRO BONO LAWYER OF THE YEAR

Philippa English, Associate, Holman Fenwick Willan Middle East LLP

PRO BONO LAW FIRM OF THE YEAR

DLA Piper Middle East LLP

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