DIFC Courts rules on Gate arch dispute with BM

A ruling has been issued in favour of DIFC in a dispute regarding claims related to defects in the complex's Gate building

DIFC Courts has ruled in favour of DIFC in the latter's dispute with contractor Brookfield Multiplex. [Representational image]
DIFC Courts has ruled in favour of DIFC in the latter's dispute with contractor Brookfield Multiplex. [Representational image]

Dubai International Financial Centre Courts (DIFC Courts) has issued its ruling on a dispute between contractor Brookfield Multiplex and Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) regarding the Gate building.  

The Gate is an arch that stands at the entrance of the DIFC complex, and has been closed since last year, when a marble slab fell from the building on 21 October. 

Addleshaw Goddard Middle East counseled for Brookfield Multiplex for the dispute, while Al Tamimi & Company represented the defendants.

According to a DIFC Courts ruling, Brookfield Multiplex brought two declarations to DIFC Courts.

"Brookfield sought first a declaration that there is a binding arbitration agreement between Brookfield and [DIFC]," the court document states. 

"Secondly it sought a declaration that, subject to the arbitration agreement, the DIFC Courts have exclusive jurisdiction over the dispute... and that the non-DIFC Courts of Dubai have no such jurisdiction."

The case was taken to DIFC Courts after the UAE subsidiary of Brookfield Multiplex applied for an injunction to stop DIFC taking further action in Dubai Courts.

Brookfield Multiplex's injunction also seeked to restrain any other proceedings before non-DIFC courts against Brookfield, arising out of or in connection with the construction contract, any alleged defects in the Gate Building, or the appointment of an engineering expert to investigate the defects allegedly caused by the contractor.

The ruling states DIFC applied for an order that DIFC Courts should declare that it had no jurisdiction to make the orders sought by Brookfield and/or should not exercise any such jurisdiction, and for an order that the claim form or service of it be set aside.

DIFC Courts judge Justice Cooke ruled in favour of DIFC, deciding an injunction was not required.

"I have therefore come to the clear conclusion that it cannot be said that [the DIFC] are in breach of the arbitration agreement in the construction contract and in those circumstances there is not only no need, but no basis for any anti-suit injunction to be granted preventing the pursuit of the lawsuit," he said in his statement.

Investigation activities carried out "by the Defendants [DIFC] using the engineers Arup led to the allegation that the incident was caused by defective workmanship which was 'common and widespread'".

The ruling adds: "Brookfield denies liability. The Defendants express concern that further stone slabs could fall from the building, constituting a danger to life.

"The area around the building has been cordoned off."

The ruling states that in its claim form, DIFC "pleaded the construction contract and the collapse of marble cladding on the south side of the Gate Building, 'endangering the safety and lives of workers and visitors'."

According to the ruling, the claim added: "This was due to various material defects in the works performed by the first defendant [Brookfield] and furthermore constitutes negligence and error on the part of the second defendant [architects Gensler] hired to design and oversee the project."

DIFC also alleged that the defendants [Brookfield Multiplex] "committed irregularities in technical and engineering works which caused substantial damage to the building and endangered the safety of the building and its workers".

The ruling states that DIFC had written to Brookfield Multiplex and Gensler "seeking an acknowledgement of liability, proposals for remedying the alleged defects and stating that it intended to apply to the Dubai Courts for the appointment of an expert to inspect and report on the affected parts" of the Gate. 

The court document adds: "Brookfield’s lawyers say that there followed discussions between the parties as to the appointment of a joint expert.

"This is disputed but, in any event, no agreement was reached between the parties as to the appointment of such a joint expert." 

Brookfield has denied liability, according to the court statement. 

ConstructionWeekOnline has contacted the lawyers of both the contractor and DIFC for an update. 

A spokesperson for Brookfield Multiplex declined to comment. 

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