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Wed 27 May 2009 12:40 PM

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Labour, real estate lawsuits set for 40% rise in Q2 - official

Director general for Dubai Courts says financial crisis has sparked caseload rise.

Lawsuits are set to jump by 40 percent in Dubai in the second quarter from a year ago as the financial crisis provokes labour and real estate disputes, a court official has said.

The first quarter already registered a 20 percent increase said Ahmed Saeed bin Hezeem, director general for Dubai Courts.

"With the crisis, we think that the increase in the number of cases in the second quarter will be much higher than last year. We think that will happen certainly and dramatically," bin Hezeem said in an interview.

Dubai sparked a construction boom when it allowed foreigners to buy property in 2002. As the crisis hit, more than half of the construction projects in the UAE, worth $582 billion, were put on hold, research firm Proleads said in February.

Labour disputes, mostly related to job dismissals, were most prevalent in the first quarter, said bin Hezeem, adding this was a reflection of the "crisis and the economic and financial difficulties facing companies all over the world and in Dubai".

Last year, labour cases represented almost 25 percent of all case types, and the percentage is expected to increase this year, said bin Hezeem. More judges have been assigned to labour and real estate courts to deal with the increased caseload.

Additionally, the courts are working with legislative bodies in Dubai to set up a centre "for amicable dispute resolutions", which should be in operation this year.

The centre would help save "money, effort and time for parties having dispute in all case types".

"We will start with real estate cases as having priority to be considered, because we expect an increase in the number of those cases, more than other case types," he said.

As to fraud lawsuits, courts are dealing with eight "major cases", not a significant increase, said bin Hezeem.

In the first quarter, the court of first instance received 3,759 cases of which 2,828 have been cleared, bin Hezeem said. The appeal court received 1,113 cases, with 1,045 cleared, while the supreme court got 226 cases and cleared 145.

The court's annual report showed a steady increase in criminal cases over the past three years. The number of cases refered to the court of first instance jumped 23 percent in 2008 to 17,734 after an increase of 16.4 percent in 2007. (Reuters)