Interview: DIFC Courts chief Mark Beer

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For most British people, to have your work recognised by the Queen is considered one of the highest honours possible in life. On November 12, that will become a reality for Dubai expat Mark Beer.

Registrar of the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Courts and former chairman of the British Business Group, Dubai and Northern Emirates, Oxford-educated Beer was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2013 Queen’s Birthday Honours list for outstanding work in strengthening relations between the UK and the UAE.

“I am enormously grateful to Her Majesty for this honour, as I am grateful for having had the opportunity to play a role in further strengthening UK trade and legal cooperation,” Beer said in June when he was announced alongside British household names such as the actor Rowan Atkinson, singer Adele, BBC broadcaster Clare Balding and novelist Jackie Collins.

Edward Hobart, Britain’s Consul General in Dubai, remarked that Beer was recognised for his part in aiding the “UAE’s extraordinary development over the last few decades.”

Established in 2004, the DIFC Courts’ original function was to offer a legal backbone to the financial free zone. Following an overhaul of Dubai’s commercial legal system in late 2011, the courts’ jurisdiction was extended to include those not connected to the DIFC, creating a truly global courtroom.

As a result, its scope and scale has grown considerably over the last nine years and, like Beer, its influence and potential has extended far beyond its home market.

“If [the dispute] has nothing to do with the DIFC but the parties have chosen that they want the DIFC Courts and chosen to come to us then they can come to us,” Beer explains.

In essence, a product could be made in Beijing by an Indian company registered in the Cayman Islands, sold through a website in the UK and shipped to the Gulf by a US distributor, but a consumer or retailer could insist the DIFC Courts be installed as the legal jurisdiction and, should anything go wrong and lawyers are needed, both parties would be facing a showdown in Dubai.

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