Dubai on Monday announced the creation of a so-called “space court” to settle commercial disputes, AFP reported. The space tribunal will be based at the Dubai International Financial Center Court (DIFC), which has jurisdiction governing civil and commercial disputes.
The DIFC Courts was first established in 2004 and has already helped settle commercial disputes among foreign countries. However, the courts were not specialized in settling commercial disputes regarding the space activities of private companies.
“An integrated space industry, supported by human resources, infrastructure, and scientific research, is underway,” Zaki Azmi, chief justice at DIFC Courts, said in a statement obtained by AFP, noting that as space commerce becomes increasingly more globalized, the commercial agreements that govern them “will also require an equally innovative judicial system to keep pace.”
“The Courts of Space is a global initiative that will operate in parallel, helping to build a new judicial support network to serve the stringent commercial demands of international space exploration in the 21st century,” he continued.
In a statement to AFP, Amna Al-Owais, Chief Registrar at DIFC Courts, stressed the importance of having the right infrastructure in place to settle disputes.
“That was for us an eye opener that we need to provide the UAE with the right infrastructure,” Amna Al-Owais, Chief Registrar at DIFC Courts, told AFP. “We want to set the scene in terms of what courts can do. We believe that there will be a huge appetite for it,” she said, citing disagreements over satellite purchases or collisions between objects in space as examples of disputes.
The UAE has built up its space sector in recent years. After sending its first astronaut into space in 2019, the UAE last year launched a probe called “Hope” to Mars.
The space probe, expected to study daily and seasonal weather cycles, is scheduled to reach Mars this month.
The US has also accelerated its space presence in recent years, establishing the US Space Force as the newest branch of the space service branch of the US Armed Forces in December 2019.
Its mission, according to its website, is to “protect US and allied interests in space and to provide space capabilities to the joint force.”