ADGM's Board of Directors decided that ADGM Courts and its judiciary would be broadly modelled on the English judicial system as this approach would result in a coherent, recognised and accepted legal framework and judicial system.

The foundation of the civil and commercial law in ADGM is provided by the Application of English Law Regulations 2015. Those Regulations make English common law (including the rules and principles of equity) directly applicable in ADGM. In addition, a wide ranging set of well-established English statutes on civil matters are also made applicable in ADGM.

The Regulations for ADGM Courts, called ADGM Courts, Civil Evidence, Judgments, Enforcement and Judicial Appointments Regulations 2015 (“ADGM Courts Regulations”), are also drawn from Scots and Australian Federal law. They have been tailored specifically to meet the requirements of ADGM Courts.


The ADGM Courts Regulations and supporting Rules were enacted by ADGM's Board of Directors and the Chief Justice respectively on 17 December 2015.  At their heart is the desire to establish a judiciary and system of law with the following hallmarks:

  • founded upon well-established, recognised and accepted principles of law
  • enshrines the importance of the impartiality, independence and integrity of the Judges
  • has enforceable judgments and rulings in ADGM, throughout the UAE and in other jurisdictions
  • has the confidence of the local and international commercial and legal markets; and
  • seeks to complement arbitration

ADGM Courts do not have jurisdiction in criminal matters. Accordingly, references in the English Statutes to criminal offences have been amended to refer to breaches of the ADGM Courts Regulations or Rules only, punishable by a monetary fine. 

The direct application of English common law makes ADGM the first jurisdiction in the Middle East to adopt a similar approach to that of Singapore and Hong Kong.