July 14, 2024 6:37 pm in Dubai

Insurance Litigation Trends:  New Insurance Law Changes Appeal Process re. Decisions Issued after 01 December 2023

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On 11 December 2023, the General Assembly of the Dubai Court of Cassation (the “General Assembly”) declared an important (and binding) precedent with respect to determining the competent court that has jurisdiction to adjudicate appeals on the decisions rendered by the committees that fall under the Banking and Insurance Dispute Resolution Unit (“Unit”) which in turn is empowered to adjudicate complaints that pertain to insurance activities.

The General Assembly’s Ruling No. 12 of 2023 (“GA Ruling”) is issued in light of the recently promulgated Federal Decree Law No. 48 of 2023 regulating insurance activities, and which came into effect in December 2023 (“New Legislation”), thereby abrogating its predecessor legislation that was Federal Law No. 6 of 2017 (“Old Legislation”).

As reflected in the GA Ruling, the New Legislation has applied a differing set of procedural rules vis-à-vis appealing the Unit’s decisions.

The contrasting differences are set out herein below:

  • One Less Forum of Appeal:
    The New Legislation provides that the forum to appeal the Unit’s decisions is now the higher Court of Appeal rather than the Court of First Instance.
  • New Appeal Threshold for the Insurer / Reinsurer:
    A new threshold has now been applied on the Insurer and Reinsurance Companies seeking to file an appeal against the Unit’s decisions such that the disputed amount must exceed AED 50,000.
  • Appeal Period:
    The timeframe to file an appeal remains thirty days but shall now only be counted from the date of the decision’s issuance OR the date of becoming knowledgeable of the decision. The Old Legislation counted the thirty-day appeal period from when the Unit’s decision is considered served upon the litigant.

To avoid confusion however, the GA Ruling specifically stated that all appeals against the Unit’s decisions that were rendered prior to or on 30 November 2023 will be adjudicated under the rules provided for in the Old Legislation.  In other words, any decisions issued on or after 1 December 2023 will be treated under the ambit of the New Legislation in the event an appeal is filed to challenge them (i.e. will have one less forum of appeal, will entail the appeal threshold requirement, and will apply the new appeal deadline rules).

In conclusion, insurers and reinsurers alike should be cognizant of the new procedural rules when appealing any of the Unit’s decisions to avoid any procedural dismissals.  Settlement window discussions with policyholders have also become much narrower in light of the appeal process now excluding the Court of First Instance Stage.

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