Part 44

Small Claims Panel
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44.1     This Part:

(1)     sets out the special procedure for dealing with claims (“small claims”) which are transferred to the Small Claims Panel(“the SC Panel”); and

(2)     limits the amount of costs that can be recovered in respect of a small claim.

44.2     The SC Panel will hear and determine claims that are:

(1)     within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal;

(2)     are transferred to the SC Panel by direction in writing of the Chairman or another member of the Tribunal; and

(3)     satisfy any one of the following three conditions –

(a)     the amount of the claim or the value of the subject matter of the claim does not exceed AED 100,000 (one hundred thousand UAE Dirham) or such other amount as may be ordered or directed by the Tribunal Chairman from time to time;

(b)     the claim pertains to the employment or former employment of a party by another party and all parties to the claim elect in writing that it shall be heard by the SC Panel;

(c)     the amount of the claim or the value of the subject matter of the claim does not exceed AED 500,000 (five hundred thousand UAE Dirhams) (or such other amount as may be ordered or directed by the Tribunal Chairman from time to time) and all parties to the claim elect in writing that it shall be heard by the SC Panel.

44.3     References in this part to:

(1)     Claims shall include counterclaims, save that where a counterclaim would not otherwise be within the jurisdiction of the SC Panel the Chairman or another member of the Tribunal shall have power to direct that the counterclaim shall not be transferred to the SC Panel;

(2)     Employment shall mean the relationship under a contract for the provision of services by a natural person (whether under a contract of employment or otherwise);

(3)     Filing a document are references to filing that document with the Registry unless stated otherwise.

 

SC Panel’s power to grant a final remedy

44.4     The SC Panel may grant any final remedy in relation to a small claim which the Tribunal could grant if the proceedings were before the Tribunal.

Extent to which other Parts apply

44.5     The following Parts of the RDWT shall apply to small claims except to the extent that a Rule limits such application or a member of the SC Panel orders otherwise:

(1)     Parts 1 to 5;

(2)     Part 9.6 (service);

(3)     Part 12 (disputing the jurisdiction);

(4)     Part 15 (admissions);

(5)     Part 23 (general rules about applications);

(6)     Rules 29.9 to 29.11 (power to control evidence);

(7)     Rules 31.2 (experts – general), Rules 31.3 – 31.11 (experts – overriding duty to the court), 31.12 – 31.18 (power to restrict expert evidence), 31.29 – 31.47 (power to appoint an expert) and 35.8 (instructions to a single joint expert);

(8)     Rules 34.1 to 34.14 (discontinuance); and

(9)     Part 36 (judgments and orders).

(10)     Parts 42 to43.

44.6     The SC Panel of its own initiative may order a party to provide further information if it considers it appropriate to do so.

Responding to a small claim

44.7     Within 7 days after he is served with a claim form in respect of a matter which has been registered with the SC Panel, a Defendant must:

(1)     Admit the claim by filing and serving on the Claimant an admission in accordance with RDWT Part 15; or

(2)    File a defence to the claim setting out (a) which parts of the claim are admitted; (b) which parts are denied and his reasons for denying those parts; and (c) the details of any counterclaim or

(3)     Make an application to dispute the jurisdiction of the SC Panel, supported by evidence.

44.8     Where the Defendant admits the claim in accordance with Rule 44.7(1), the SC Panel shall issue an order giving judgment on the claim.

44.9     Where the Defendant files and serves an application to dispute the jurisdiction in accordance with Rule 44.7(3), the application will be heard by a member of the SC Panel in accordance with RDWT Part 23.

 

The consultation

44.10     After the Defendant has filed and served a defence in accordance with Rule 44.7(2) and/ or after the time for filing such a statement has passed, the SC Panel will fix a time for the parties to attend before a member of the SC Panel for a consultation.

44.11     The primary purpose of the consultation will be to allow the parties to attempt to resolve their dispute.

44.12     The SC Panel may treat the consultation as the final hearing of the claim if all the parties agree.

44.13     The SC Panel will generally fix the consultation within 7 days after the time for filing a defence has expired (i.e. within 14 days after service of the claim form).

44.14     When filing the Claim Form, the Claimant should inform the SC Panel of any dates within that period on which he is unable to attend the consultation and his reasons for being unable to attend.

44.15     When filing a defence, the Defendant should inform the SC Panel of any dates within that period on which he is unable to attend the consultation and his reasons for being unable to attend.

44.16     The SC Panel will attempt to fix the consultation on a date on which both parties are able to attend.

44.17     If any party is unable to attend the consultation on the date fixed, he must notify the SC Panel and the other party as soon as possible and give his reasons for being unable to attend. If it appears to the SC Panel that the party has a good reason for being unable to attend the consultation, the SC Panel may adjourn the consultation and fix a new date.

44.18     It is essential that each party attends the consultation in person. Parties should not be represented by a lawyer. A party may be represented by a non-lawyer where it appears to the SC Panel that it is reasonably necessary.

44.19     Any of its full-time officers or employees may represent a corporate party at the consultation.

44.20     Each party should file with his claim form or defence any documents on which he wishes to rely at the consultation.

44.21     If a party fails to attend the consultation, the member of the SC Panel conducting the consultation may:

(1)     decide the small claim against that party; or

(2)     adjourn the consultation.

44.22     If neither party attends the consultation, the member of the SC Panel conducting the consultation may:

(1)     dismiss the claim; or

(2)     adjourn the consultation.

44.23     A party who was neither present nor represented at the consultation and against whom the claim has been decided in accordance with Rule 44.26 or Rule 44.22 may apply for that order to be set aside and the claim reinstated.

44.24     A party who applies for an order to be set aside in accordance with Rule 44.23, must make the application not more than 7 days after the day on which notice of the Order was served on him.

44.25     The SC Panel may grant an application under Rule 44.23 only if the applicant:

(1)     had a good reason for not attending the consultation; and

(2)     has a real prospect of success in the small claim.

44.26     If the SC Panel grants an application to set aside an order under Rule 44.23:

(1)     the SC Panel will fix a new date for the consultation; and

(2)     the consultation may take place immediately after the hearing of the application to set aside the order and may be dealt with by the member of the SC Panel who set aside the order.

44.27     Unless the member of the SC Panel conducting the consultation orders otherwise, the consultation shall take place in private.

44.28     If the claim is settled at the consultation, the member of the SC Panel conducting the consultation will issue a consent order, recording the terms of the settlement.

44.29     If the claim is not settled at the consultation, the member of the SC Panel may either:

(1)     Fix a date for a further consultation; or

(2)     Make arrangements for the hearing of the claim in accordance with RDWT Rules 44.31 to 44.35 below.

 

Re-allocation

44.30     Where appropriate, the member of the SC Panel conducting the consultation may order that the small claim be transferred to the Tribunal. When deciding whether to do so, the member of the SC Panel shall have regard to the following matters:

(1)     The financial value of the claim or of the subject of the claim;

(2)     The nature of the dispute;

(3)     The nature of the remedy sought;

(4)     The likely complexity of the facts, law or evidence;

(5)     The number of parties or likely parties;

(6)     The value of any counterclaim or other additional claim and the complexity of any matters relating to it;

(7)     The amount of oral evidence which may be required;

(8)     The importance of the claim to persons who are not parties to the proceedings;

(9)     The views expressed by the parties at the consultation;

(10)     The circumstances of the parties, including their financial means.

 

Preparation for the hearing

44.31     If the claim is not settled at the consultation, unless he fixes a further consultation or Rule 44.30 applies, the member of the SC Panel conducting the consultation will give directions for the preparation of the small claim for trial.

44.32     The SC Panel member at the consultation will generally:

(1)     fix a date for the final hearing of the small claim;

(2)     inform the parties of the time allowed for the final hearing; and

(3)    order each party to file and serve on every other party copies of any further documents on which he intends to rely at the hearing.

44.33     A party may ask the SC Panel member at the consultation to give particular directions about the conduct of the case.

44.34     In deciding whether to make an order for exchange of witness statements the member of the SC Panel conducting the consultation will have regard to the following:

(1)    the amount in dispute in the proceedings;

(2)     the nature of the matters in dispute;

(3)     the need for the parties to have access to justice without undue formality, cost or delay.

44.35     No expert may give evidence, whether written or oral, at a hearing without the permission of the SC Panel.

 

Power of the SC Panel to add to, vary or revoke directions

44.36  The SC Panel may add to, vary or revoke directions.

 

Conduct of the hearing

44.37     Claims for which a hearing is arranged in accordance with RDWT .34(2) shall be heard by three members of the SC Panel who if not unanimous may reach a majority decision. Unless the parties agree otherwise, the said three members shall not include the same SC Panel member who conducted the consultation.

44.38     The SC Panel may adopt any method of proceeding at a hearing that it considers to be fair.

44.39     Hearings will be informal.

44.40     The general rule is that a small claim hearing will be in private, unless the parties agree or the SC Panel orders otherwise.

44.41     The strict rules of evidence do not apply.

44.42     The SC Panel may take evidence on oath but is not required to do so.

44.43     The SC Panel may limit cross-examination.

44.44     The SC Panel may in particular:

(1)     ask questions of any witness themselves before allowing any other person to do so,

(2)     ask questions of all or any of the witnesses themselves before allowing any other person to ask questions of any witnesses,

(3)     refuse to allow cross-examination of any witness until all the witnesses have given evidence in chief,

(4)     limit cross-examination of a witness to a fixed time or to a particular subject or issue, or both.

Representation at a hearing

44.45     A party should present his own case at a hearing. Parties should not be represented by a lawyer. A party may be represented at the hearing by a non-lawyer where it appears to the SC Panel that it is reasonably necessary.

44.46     Any of its full-time officers or employees may represent a corporate party.

Recording of evidence and giving of reasons

44.47     The SC Panel will take a minute of or otherwise record by such means as the SC Panel considers appropriate any hearing that takes place at the SC Panel. A party may obtain a copy of that minute or other recording on payment of the proper charges specified by the SC Panel.

44.48     It is not permissible for a party to use its own recording devices in the SC Panel.

44.49     The SC Panel must give reasons for its decision.

44.50     The SC Panel may give reasons for its judgment as briefly and simply as the nature of the case requires.

44.51     The SC Panel will normally do so orally at the hearing, but may give them later at a hearing either orally or in writing.

44.52     Where the SC Panel decides the case without a hearing under Rule 44.57, the SC Panel will prepare a note of its reasons and will send a copy to each party.

 

Non-attendance of parties at a final hearing

44.53     If a Claimant does not attend the hearing the SC Panel may strike out the claim.

44.54     If a Defendant does not attend the hearing and the Claimant does attend the hearing, the SC Panel may decide the claim on the basis of the evidence of the Claimant alone.

44.55     If neither party attends the hearing, the SC Panel may strike out the claim and any defence and counterclaim.

44.56     Nothing in those provisions affects the general power of the SC Panel to adjourn a hearing, for example where a party who wishes to attend a hearing on the date fixed cannot do so for a good reason.

 

Disposal without a hearing

44.57  The SC Panel may, if all parties agree, determine the claim without a hearing.

 

Setting Judgment aside and re-hearing

44.58     A party who was not present at the hearing of the claim may apply for an order that a Judgment under this Part shall be set aside and the claim re-heard.

44.59     A party who applies for an order setting aside a Judgment under Rule 44.58 must make the application not more than 7 days after the day on which notice of the Judgment was served on him.

44.60     The SC Panel may grant an application under Rule 44.58 only if the applicant:

(1)     had a good reason for not attending the hearing; and

(2)     has a real prospect of success at the hearing.

44.61     If a Judgment is set aside:

(1)     the SC Panel must fix a new hearing for the claim; and

(2)     the hearing may take place immediately after the hearing of the application to set the Judgment aside.

44.62     A party may not apply to set aside a Judgment under this rule if the SC Panel dealt with the claim without a hearing under Rule 44.57.

 

Costs in claims before the SC Panel

44.63     The SC Panel may not order a party to a small claim to pay a sum to another party in respect of that other party’s costs, fees and expenses, including those relating to an appeal, except:

(1)     such part of any Tribunal fees paid by that other party as the SC Panel may consider appropriate;

(2)     such further costs as the SC Panel may assess by the summary procedure and order to be paid by a party who has behaved unreasonably.

44.64     A party’s rejection of an offer in settlement will not of itself constitute unreasonable behaviour under Rule 44.63(2) but the SC Panel may take it into consideration when it is applying the unreasonableness test.

 

Claim re-allocated from the SC Panel to the Tribunal

44.65     Where a claim is transferred from the SC Panel to the Tribunal, Rule 44.63 (costs in claims before the SC Panel) will cease to apply after the claim has been transferred and the costs Rules set out in RDWT Parts 38-39 will apply from the date of transfer.

 

Enforcement

44.66     An Order of the SC Panel shall have the same status as an Order of the Tribunal.