The mandate of the BCDR Court is separate and distinct from BCDR's arbitration and mediation mandate.
The BCDR Court was created by Legislative Decree No. (30) of 2009 (as amended by Legislative Decree No. (64) of 2014 and Legislative Decree No. (26) of 2021) relating to the Bahrain Chamber for the Resolution of Economic, Investment and Financial Disputes.
The BCDR Court has jurisdiction over disputes in which the claim exceeds BHD500,000 (approximately US$1.3 million) and the dispute is:
- of an international commercial nature; or
- between financial institutions licensed by the Central Bank of Bahrain, or between one or more such institutions and other institutions, companies, or individuals; or
- between commercial companies licensed in accordance with the Bahraini Companies Law and relating to obligations deriving from the commercial relationship between them.
The BCDR Court also has jurisdiction by virtue of the Real Estate Regulation Law No. (22) of 2017 over real estate disputes where the claim exceeds BHD500,000 and the dispute:
- arises out of an off-plan sale, usufruct rights, utilization and development (Musataha) rights or long-term lease rights, or lease to own (Ijarah Muntahia Bittamleek) rights or lease rights; or
- relates to the Owners' Union; or
- arises out of real estate works or projects or real estate rights specified by a resolution of the Board of Directors of the Real Estate Regulatory Authority.
Finally, the BCDR Court also has jurisdiction over disputes relating to trusts that are governed by Legislative Decree No. 23 of 2016.
All these disputes previously fell within the jurisdiction of the Bahraini courts.
To initiate a claim before the BCDR Court, a party must submit a statement of claim using the approved means, including electronic means, and must pay the applicable filing fee.
The procedure for filing the claim is governed by Article 8 of Resolution No. (134) of 2021 adopting the procedural rules governing the resolution of disputes falling within the jurisdiction of the BCDR Court. Article 8 provides for all the requirements, including information and documentation, necessary to file a claim. These include:
- the claimant's name, title, profession or occupation, place of residence or chosen domicile, national ID number or commercial registration number, fixed line phone number, mobile phone number, e-mail address, the name of the claimant's representative and all of their information;
- the respondent's name, title, profession or occupation, place of residence or chosen domicile, fixed line phone number, mobile phone number, and e-mail address, if known, and if the respondent does not have a known place of residence at the time of the filing of the claim, the respondent's last known address;
- the facts of the claim and the relief sought;
- the sums claimed; and
- the exhibits relied upon, with a list of those exhibits. If any exhibit is in a foreign language, an Arabic translation of such exhibit must be provided unless English is the language of the proceedings, in which case an English translation thereof should be provided if the exhibit is in another language.
The sums claimed in a claim filed with the BCDR Court shall be determined in accordance with the Bahrain Judicial Fees Law.
Parties may represent themselves before the case manager or the BCDR Court or may be represented by lawyers pursuant to Bahraini Advocacy Law.
Non-Bahraini lawyers may represent any party in BCDR Court proceedings or carry out any act on its behalf, provided they have a joint power of attorney with a Bahraini lawyer who is authorized to practice before the Bahraini Court of Cassation.
Key Features of the BCDR Court:
- Tribunals appointed are composed of three members, two members are judges of the highest Bahraini courts and the third member is chosen from the BCDR Court's roster of neutrals, as established by the committee for selecting the roster members.
- Judgments rendered by the BCDR Court are considered as final judgments issued by the courts of the Kingdom of Bahrain.
- Judgments rendered by the BCDR Court are not appealable, but may be challenged before the Bahraini Court of Cassation for annulment (on very limited grounds) or for violation of the applicable laws, or for improperly applying or interpreting applicable laws, in which case the Court of Cassation must determine and rule on the merits of the dispute de novo.
- Disputing parties can choose English as the language of the proceedings before the BCDR Court if the contract underlying the dispute is drafted in a language other than Arabic. English shall be the language of the proceedings if the contract underlying the dispute was drafted in English and the disputing parties are legal entities.
Enforcement of BCDR Court judgments outside the Kingdom of Bahrain
In December 2012, a New York Supreme Court judge ruled that a BCDR Court judgment was equivalent to a court judgment in Bahrain and was enforceable in the State of New York as a foreign judgment.