Latham & Watkins and the Dubai Economic Council Convene Policy Conference in the UAE

Proposed insolvency law reform in the UAE is the focus of global policy summit.

May 24, 2012

Under the Patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and Chairmanship of His Highness Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the Dubai Economic Council and its honorary strategic partners, Latham & Watkins LLP and Ernst & Young organized a two-day Global Policy Conference to highlight the importance of effective insolvency systems and to introduce a draft of the proposed new Federal Law on Financial Restructuring and Bankruptcy for the UAE.

The summit was attended by more than 300 delegates, including senior representatives of federal and local government, leading members of the local and international judiciary, globally recognized members of the legal, advisory and insolvency community and representatives of the regional private sector. Attendees discussed the lessons learned from the global financial crisis and the application of international best practices in the field of insolvency and restructuring as a template for law reform in the UAE and the wider MENA region.

Senior Latham partners from Dubai, London, Chicago and New York participated in panel discussions throughout the event. Christopher Hall, Chair of Latham's Middle East Finance Department, stated: “Latham & Watkins is extremely proud to be a strategic partner of The Dubai Economic Council and to have co-hosted this landmark event. The development of insolvency laws and practices that enable distressed companies to restructure their balance sheets and that respond to the social and economic needs of the UAE and its centres of excellence in finance and corporate governance is a key strategic initiative in which we were delighted to participate.”

Hall presented a case study of the Dubai World and Nakheel restructurings and the key features of Dubai Decree 57 of 2009, which established a bespoke legal framework that provided the backdrop for the successful out-of-court restructuring of in excess of US$45 billion of financial indebtedness.

Media interest in the summit was strong reflecting the prominence of the event and the important themes being discussed. To coincide with the conference, Hall was interviewed on Dubai Eye 103.8 Business Breakfast radio and Emirates 24/7. A group of Latham lawyers also authored an article published in Global Insolvency & Restructuring Review, entitled “Shifting sands – Insolvency and restructuring law reform in the Middle East.”

Click to watch Christopher Hall's Emirates 24/7 TV interview

Topics discussed during the dynamic Global Policy Conference included:

  • The global economic outlook and the role of legal and regulatory frameworks in mitigating the impact of the global financial crisis and providing the best possible platform for recovery
  • The need for parallel reform of associated laws, such as civil procedure laws, the laws relating to companies generally, the laws relating to the granting and enforcement of security and the criminal laws relating to the duties of directors and officers
  • The need for the development of institutional and professional capacity as a means to implement such laws
  • The treatment of Sharia’ah compliant financial instrument in restructuring / insolvency scenarios

"Latham congratulates The Dubai Economic Council for organizing a critically important conference,” said senior partner Bryant Edwards who has led on some of the most high-profile restructuring matters in the Gulf Region. “The conference raised awareness about key legal policy topics on both a regional and global level.”

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