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PRESSR: Al Doseri Law involved in landmark Court of Cassation English language international commercial dispute ruling

  • Led by Founding Partner Saad Al Doseri, Al Doseri Law has successfully defended its client in an $18 million (USD) international commercial dispute conducted in the English language before the local courts, the first ruling of its kind within the Kingdom of Bahrain. 

On 9 May 2024, the Court of Cassation issued its judgment in English wherein it was asked to hear and adjudicate on matters governed by English law. The Court upheld a prior ruling from the Bahrain Chamber for Dispute Resolution (BCDR) in November 2023, which was also rendered in English and was governed by English law, making this important case for the Kingdom of Bahrain, and highlighting its position globally as a major jurisdiction for litigation matters in English and under English law.

The Ministry of Justice for Islamic Affairs and Waqf (MOJ) issued Resolution No.28 of 2023, determining the language other than Arabic that may be used before the Courts and the BCDR. According to the MOJ resolution, English shall be the language used before the BCDR in disputes falling under its jurisdiction if the contract underlying the dispute is drafted in English. The MOJ resolution further states that if judgments and orders are issued in English, challenges thereto shall be heard in the same language at all levels.

With an eye to increasing Bahrain’s development as a key international hub for dispute resolution. The judgment handed down in favour of ADL’s client in November 2023 was the first ruling in English and furthermore governed by English law, in a hearing presided over by renowned Judge Jan Paulsson, together with Judge Nadine Debbas Achkar and Dr. Mohamed Abdel Raouf. 

The Court of Cassation’s ruling of 9 May 2024 successfully concludes the proceedings against Al Doseri Law’s client.

Speaking on the case, Saad Al Doseri commented, “We are delighted to have successfully represented our client in this precedent-setting case, both before the BCDR and the Court of Cassation.  

“This is an excellent outcome for our client and sets the stage for Bahrain’s commitment to hearing and ruling on complex and high-profile cases in English and governed by English law. We are pleased to see the Kingdom and the judiciary positioning our jurisdiction as a key international disputes forum.”

Background

The 2023 proceedings

In the initial 2023 proceedings, a claim exceeding more than $18 million (USD) was brought against the Respondent, Al Doseri Law’s client.

In these proceedings, it was concluded that the claim should be determined pursuant to English law. As such, the claimant’s claims would be limited by time under English law, per the Limitation Act 1980, with all other grounds of the claims thus being “rendered nugatory”. Pursuant to s5 of the Limitation Act 1980, “an Action founded on a simple contract shall not be brought after the expiration of six years from the date on which the cause of action accrued”. As such, the six-year statute of limitations would only be interrupted in the case of a written acknowledgement from the debtor, Al Doseri Law’s client, as to the validity of the debt.

In response to allegations from the claimant, Al Doseri Law successfully rebutted that the exchanged communications from its client did not amount to an acknowledgement of liability and therefore do not interrupt the statutory periods.

The BCDR agreed and the Tribunal’s decision was made after Al Doseri Law brought forth an expert witness, a member of the English bar, who provided key evidence as to the application of the Limitation Act 1980 in this case.

Success at the Court of Cassation 

Following the BCDR ruling, an appeal was lodged by the claimant against ADL’s client at the Court of Cassation, wherein a tribunal, presided over by His Excellency Chief Justice Sheikh Khalid Bin Ali Al Khalifa, assisted by judges and notable arbitrators Adrian Cole and Michael Grose, ruled on 9 May 2024 in favour of Al Doseri Law’s comprehensive defence argument, upholding the November 2023 BCDR ruling. The Court rendered that it accepted the appeal in form but dismissed it on the merits and ordered the Appellant to bear all costs, including the confiscation of the surety.

In its ruling, the Court noted that Law No. 6 of 2015 on Conflict of Laws in Civil and Commercial Matters with Foreign Elements does not prevent the application of English law to matters in the Bahraini courts, particularly as evidence in favour of this application was presented by Saad Al Doseri while the case was being considered by the BCDR, in accordance with the requirements of Article 6 of the Law.

Al Doseri Law’s success in this case is a testament to its expert handling of multi-jurisdictional and international commercial disputes, particularly those in the English language, and its in-depth understanding of English and Bahraini law. The landmark ruling will further help to position the Kingdom as a leading hub for international commercial disputes, confirming its role as a major judicial jurisdiction for disputes in the English language and demonstrating its willingness to modernise its judicial system to keep pace with global developments in international commercial disputes.

-Ends-

About Al Doseri Law

Al Doseri Law is a specialist banking and finance, litigation and dispute resolution, TMT and corporate Bahraini law firm founded by partner Saad Al Doseri. The firm comprises a team of accomplished and experienced lawyers who are highly regarded and recognised for their legal expertise, advising high profile local and international clients in the Kingdom of Bahrain.

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