Thinking aheadfor businesses of the future

Courts of the Future

In 2017, the Courts of the Future was launched by the DIFC Courts and Dubai Future Foundation (DFF) with a mandate to explore diverse legal tech. topic areas and to provide research and thought leadership on promoting and encouraging contemporary methods of greater accessibility and efficiency to court users across the globe.

This think tank has enabled the DIFC Courts to streamline its major legal tech. projects under the Court of the Future, pooling talent and resources from global partners and experts across the fields of law, technology, IT and business, assembled to help legal systems accommodate the accelerating growth of technology.

Courts of the Blockchain

In 2018, the DIFC Courts partnered with Smart Dubai to create the world’s first Court of the Blockchain. Building on existing dispute resolution services, the alliance is exploring how to aid verification of court judgments for cross-border enforcement.

The partnership is the first step in creating a blockchain-powered future for the judiciary which will have far-reaching benefits, including streamlining the judicial process, removing document duplications, and driving greater efficiencies across the entire legal ecosystem.

Court Tech Lab

The DIFC Courts and Dubai Future Foundation (DFF) have partnered to launch the world’s first Court Tech Lab.

In exploring how judicial systems can be strengthened through technology, the Court Tech Lab will unite individuals and companies helping to prototype and launch the advancement of legal technology, such as Blockchain powered initiatives, AI enabled programmes and cloud-based solutions.

The Tech Lab will be mandated to help cultivate those ideas by running a yearly competition cycle, helping to raise support and capital for companies demonstrating promising breakthroughs in the arena of court tech. Harnessing the established framework and talent pool from Dubai Future Accelerators, the competition will invite start-ups, scale-ups and innovative SME participants to submit and present new, viable and court tech solutions.

Working Group

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    Amna Al Owais

    Chief Registrar
    DIFC Courts

    Amna Al Owais is currently the Chief Registrar of the DIFC Courts and oversees operations and quality management, supervising the Courts’ Judicial Officers and Registry personnel, as well as the delivery of a comprehensive suite of court public services.

    In addition to her role as Chief Registrar of the DIFC Courts, Amna is also Registrar of the Special Tribunal Related to Dubai World, Chairwoman of the DIFC Courts’ Users’ Committee and a member of the Consulting Council for the University of Sharjah College of Law. In 2014, Amna was appointed to the Advisory Board of the International Bar Association’s Access to Justice and Legal Aid Committee.

    In 2014, Amna was selected to join the Mohammed Bin Rashid Centre for Leadership Development (MBRCLD) – the Young Leaders category, and furthermore in 2018 after the relaunch of the MBRCLD, under the Dubai Executive Office and after an extensive selection process, Amna was selected to join the first batch of the MBRCLD Impactful Leaders Programme. Amna successfully graduated in December 2018.

    Amna has played a key part in the establishment and development of the DIFC Courts and creation of the Dispute Resolution Authority in 2014. She also spearheaded the establishment of the DIFC Courts’ Pro Bono Programme, launched in 2009, which is the first scheme of its kind in the Middle East. In 2011 Amna was recognised by the International Bar Association as one of the Top 3 young lawyers in the world and was listed in the Top 50 Most Influential Women in the Arab World and in the Top 100 Influential People Helping to Shape the Emirate of Dubai by Arabian Business in 2018. Amna was also awarded Legal Services CEO of the Year at the Arabian Business CEO magazine Awards in 2018 and listed among the Top 30 Most Influential Women in the Arab World by Arabian Business magazine in 2019.

    In 2019, Amna was invited to join the Dubai Future Councils, a new initiative launched by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashed Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, and Chairman of the Board of Trustees at the Dubai Future Foundation. Consisting of 13 councils, its main mandate is to Fore-sight the future agenda of Dubai in strategic sectors and launch initiatives with both private and public sector partners to create the foundation for that future. Amna will specifically play an active role in the membership of the Dubai Future Council on Entrepreneurship & Innovation Ecosystems.

    Launched in 2019 by His Highness Sheikh Nahayan Al Nahayan, Minister of Tolerance, Amna has also been selected by the University Leadership Council and Université Paris II to be in the first cohort of the International Business Law LLM. In September 2019, Amna was also appointed to the College of Law Advisory Board of the University of Dubai.

    Previous to her employment at the DIFC Courts, she practiced as a lawyer in the litigation department with Hadef Al Dhahiri and Associates now known as Hadef & Partners. Amna holds a Bachelor’s Degree of Law from the University of Sharjah and obtained a Masters (LLM) with Commendation in International Commercial Law from Kingston University, London.

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    Arul Jose Vigin

    Senior Manager IT
    DIFC Courts

    Arul has over 15 years of rich experience in technology infrastructure, mobile, cloud and GRC, largely across government and financial sectors and has been employed as Manager of IT Operations with the DIFC Courts since 2016.

    He has been instrumental in transforming the operational and administrative infrastructure of the Courts through digitalisation and pioneering technologies that expedited the DIFC Courts to be recognised as one of the most innovative global commercial courts. Several innovative implementations have received industry recognition, including an award for best technology solutions for improving access to justice by US-based National Association for Court Management; ICT Achievement Awards MENA-Editor’s Award; and, listed among the Top 100 CIOs by Computer News Middle East.

    Arul spearheaded the introduction of the Middle East’s first ‘SMART’ Small Claims Tribunal (SCT), a DIFC Courts facility that enables a remote virtual courtroom service for dispute resolution. Identifying the need for accessibility, convenience, and flexibility, this virtual infrastructure was built to open further access to justice, especially for individuals and SMEs.

    Arul has also led the DIFC Courts taskforce, working in conjunction with Smart Dubai, to launch the world’s first Court of the Blockchain. Building on existing dispute resolution services, the alliance is exploring how to aid the verification of court judgments for cross-border enforcement. The partnership is the first step in creating a blockchain-powered future for the judiciary which will have far-reaching benefits, including streamlining the judicial process, removing document duplications, and driving greater efficiencies across the entire legal ecosystem.

    Arul completed his Post Graduate Diploma in Information Systems Management in the UK, and in 2018 completed the Certified Oxford Blockchain Strategy Programme. He is presently exploring and testing emerging technologies such as Blockchain and AI for the DIFC Courts.

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    Ayesha Bin Kalban

    Assistant Registrar
    DIFC Courts

    Ayesha joined the DIFC Courts in the role of case progression officer in March 2015 and was promoted to the role of Assistant Registrar in 2018. She currently oversees the progression of Court of First Instance, Court of Appeal and Enforcement cases. She provides support to the Registry in its day-to-day functions. Ayesha holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Law and Political Science from University of Saint Joseph Dubai, and studied there on a scholarship from the Edad leadership program. She is also qualified to appear before the local and federal courts in the UAE.

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    H.E. Abdulla Al Majid

    Assistant Undersecretary
    Ministry of Justice, UAE

    Currently, H.E. Mohammed Mahfoudh is the Assistant Undersecretary of the Ministry of Justice, UAE. He is responsible for formulating strategies and driving the Ministry Of Justice in its modernization efforts to become the first in smart eJustice governance in the world. Prior to his current appointment, Mr. Al-Majid has held several key posts. In his role as the Federal eGovernment Director, he has spearheaded several major eGovernment projects.

    In the Commercial Sector, as Programme Manager of Microsoft MENA, he was instrumental in several new developments and white papers for products for the ME market. H.E. Mr. Al-Majid completed his Graduate Degree and Master of Business Administration (MIS) and is currently pursuing a Ph.D.

    Specialties:

    • IT
    • Human Resources
    • Finance
    • Project Management
    • e-Governance
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    Helen Tung

    Founder
    NewSpace2060

    Helen Tung is a barrister and NewSpace Legal Futurist. Her background is in commercial law with specific interests in maritime, aviation and aerospace. Helen has spoken extensively on LegalTech at the International Bar Association and worked with start-ups including NewSpace start-ups. She spent 3 months at NASA Ames, is part of the Hague Working Group on Space Resources and instrumental contributor to the Maritime Autonomous Regulatory Systems Working Group (MARSWG) on shipping standards.

    Helen Tung is the UAE Representative for the Moon Village Association, Chair of the joint session on space debris and space operations and Vice-Chair of the Enterprise Risk Management Committee of the IAF. Helen is interested in the potential role of Courts of the Future in Space, emergent technologies and user engagements.

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    Justice Aedit Abdullah

    Technology & Transformation
    Singapore Judiciary
    Singapore Supreme Court

    Justice Aedit Abdullah was appointed Judicial Commissioner in 2014 and High Court Judge on 30 September 2017.

    Justice Abdullah obtained a Bachelor of Laws (First Class Honours) from the National University of Singapore (NUS) in 1994, a Bachelor of Civil Law (First Class) from the University of Oxford in 1998 and a Master in Public Management from NUS in 2007.

    He joined the Singapore Legal Service in 1995 and began his career as a Justices’ Law Clerk. He then taught at the Faculty of Law, NUS, before re-joining the Singapore Legal Service. He has held various appointments such as Deputy Public Prosecutor, Deputy Senior State Counsel and District Judge of the Subordinate Courts (renamed as State Courts in 2014).

    He was appointed Chief Prosecutor (Economic Crimes and Governance Division), and subsequently, Chief Prosecutor (Criminal Justice Division) at the Attorney-General’s Chambers in 2011 and served as special counsel at the Monetary Authority of Singapore from January 2008 to June 2009. He was appointed Senior Counsel in 2012.

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    Lucas Pitts

    Disputes Lawyer
    Bird & Bird (MEA)

    Lucas Pitts has advised on matters throughout the Middles East for over ten years and have extensive experience advising on disputes in a wide range of sectors, including telecommunications, banking, insolvency, aviation, fraud and breach of fiduciary duty, as well as general commercial disputes.

    Lucas’ practice is inherently international in nature, and he has worked on cases from a wide variety of jurisdictions outside of the Middle East, including the United Kingdom, New York, Uganda, Rwanda, Ivory Coast, Mauritius, Italy, and Switzerland.

    He has advised on cases proceeding under the Civil Procedure Rules of the English Court, DIFC, ICC, LCIA, GCC Commercial Centre and DIAC arbitrations as well as arbitrations proceeding under the 1996 Arbitration Act and the Oman Arbitration Act.

    Lucas Pitts has also handled cases before tribunals in the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court of England and Wales; the Bahrain Centre for Dispute Resolution, the SAMA Committee, Board of Grievances and Committee for the Resolution of Securities Disputes in Saudi Arabia and the Commercial Court in Mauritius. His work includes obtaining freezing injunctions, pre-action and specific disclosure orders; Norwich Pharmacal orders; search orders as well as preparing cases and pleadings for foreign proceedings.

    As well as being a qualified solicitor in England and Wales, he has also admitted to practice in the United Arab Emirates, meaning he is qualified to advise on matters of UAE law.

    Lucas Pitts has developed a deep knowledge of a wide range of dispute resolution procedures both in the Middle East and internationally and his clients recommend him for my creative and thoughtful approach to resolving their disputes. He always works with them to find sensible, cost-efficient strategies to obtain the results they require.

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    Mariam Obaid Al Muhairi

    Project Manager
    Dubai Future Foundation

    Mariam Obaid Al Muhairi is a Project Manager at the Dubai Future Foundation. She currently leads the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution UAE, a collaboration between Dubai Future Foundation and the World Economic Forum, which focuses on developing technology governance in the fields of artificial intelligence, blockchain, and precision medicine.

    She previously worked in policy analysis and communications. She graduated with a Master of Science in Middle East Politics from SOAS, University of London, and a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from the American University of Sharjah.

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    Mohammed Mahfoudh

    CEO
    DECA4 Blockchain Advisory

    Mohammed is an Advisory Services specialist with vast experience in corporate finance, technology, startups and innovation strategy, and development. He has worked extensively as a turn-around consultant in UAE and Europe, as well as an advisor to startups, where he mentored and acted as both Executive and non-executive board directors in over 30 companies globally over a period of 10 years. Doing work in Europe mostly but also in Australia, India, and Chile.

    During his work with startups, Mohammed had participated in the fundraising of over Euros 200 million for startups in Europe in industries from high-tech, health tech, and aviation with eight successful exits in China, Switzerland, and the USA (to private equity).

    Mohammed has established Deca4 over a year ago with a group of senior partners that has offices in UAE and Chile, with a focus on providing advisory and consultancy services to government and private companies in the usage and implementation of Blockchain technology as well as the application of tokenization for the purpose of fundraising, covering technology, financial implications, and regulatory understanding.

    Mohammed holds an MBA degree from London Business School, and a B.S. in Computer Sciences and Electrical Engineering from University of Texas at Austin, where he is also an advisory board member at the College of Natural Sciences.

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    Phil Reynolds

    Board Member & General Counsel
    PyyPl Group

    Phil Reynolds is a globally experienced and award-winning entrepreneur and VC investor. He has also spent over 25 years as an intrapreneurial “C” suite executive, in-house General Counsel and non-executive Director.

    He is a well-known and long respected legal and regulatory specialist in the ME region and recognised as a legal and regulatory expert in his core fields of communications and digital transformation, including Fintech, AI, ML, and robotics.

    Seasoned in demanding pivotal roles in regulated industries and emerging markets, he has worked in multiple geographically disparate and multicultural environments.

    He is well recognized for having started the Virgin Mobile Middle East and Africa group of companies in Dubai in 2006 and held “C” level and NED posts for over 9 years. He is retained as an adviser to the company.

    Phil subsequently broke new ground by co-founding Pyypl Group Ltd in the UAE in 2016. Pyypl, a regional ADGM authorised Fintech pioneering entity, uses cloud-based blockchain technology and machine learning to deliver multiple digital financial services from a single mobile phone App focusing on solutions for under-developed emerging markets. Pyypl’s core customer market is the almost 1bn under-banked citizens within the MEA region

    Phil is also a consultant and advisor to other international technology start-up entities in the FinTech, UAV, and AI and AR sectors. He previously held Executive Director-level posts in three Fortune 500 global communications companies.

    Educated in Australia (University of Melbourne and University of Canberra) and the U.K. (Queen Mary College, University of London), he holds a Master of Laws (Melb.) specializing in technology and communications law and has numerous additional postgraduate academic and professional qualifications. He is a Ph.D. candidate researching product liability law relating to AI, ML, and robotics. He is admitted to practice as a barrister and solicitor in 3 jurisdictions including the High Court of Australia.

    He is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (MAICD), the Institute of Directors (MIoD), the Law Society of New South Wales and various professional information associations and societies.

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    Reem Al Shihhe

    Chief Operating Officer
    DIFC Courts

    Reem began her career in Human Resources with the DIFC Authority and joined the DIFC Courts in January 2011 as the Head of Human Resources and Business Excellence. In 2013, under Reem’s direction and as a result of DIFC Courts’ commitment to court excellence, the DIFC Courts became the first court in the world to achieve the International Standard for Service Excellence (TISSE) certification.

    In 2014 the DIFC Courts, led by Reem, attained the 5 Star Customer Excellence Award by the UAE Prime Minister – the first non-federal UAE government entity to do so. In the same year, she became the Chief Operating Officer overseeing all the operational departments supporting the divisions which make up the DRA. Following her success in 2015, Reem graduated from the Mohammed Bin Rashid Centre for Leadership Development – the Young Leaders category.

    In 2016, Reem became the ICCE Representative for DIFC Courts and Member of the Executive Committee following the DIFC Courts proudly becoming a member of the International Consortium for Court Excellence (ICCE). Since then the DIFC Courts and Reem have been working actively to assist judiciaries across the world to adopt the International Framework for Court Excellence.

    In September 2018 Reem attended the IACA conference in Brazil with H.E. Justice Ali Shamis Al Madhani, Chairman of the Middle East Board of IACA. In collaboration with the ICCE, Reem also spearheaded the organisation of the Court Excellence and Innovation conference in Dubai on November 2018, which identified international best practice and challenges for courts around the globe.