The UAE is a complex jurisdiction. Investors need to zero down on a law firm that has ground experience and right connections in the market. ProConsult Advocates & Legal Consultants is a leading law firm based in the U.A.E. experienced enough to deal with the diverse and complex needs of clients seeking legal advice or planning to establish, structure or restructure their business, ventures or projects in the UAE.
We sat down with Mr Tony Maalouli, managing director.
Mr Maalouli, Can You tell us something more about your background?
Thank you for inviting me in your online magazine. I’m a Lebanese lawyer and a legal consultant in the Emirate of Dubai with nearly three decades of experience. I lead a skilled team of lawyers, paralegals and support staff at ProConsult Advocates and Legal Consultants in my capacity as a Managing Partner of the firm. International Who’s Who of Professionals identifies me as a person with distinguished achievements and contributions to the business and legal community. Before ProConsult happened to me, I had led the Banking, Corporate and Commercial practice at Baker & McKenzie Habib Al Mulla. With right set of skills, connections and commitment, we see opportunities in the region by continuous enhancement and development of our reputation.
You studied in the UK and Dubai?
Learning and development are integral to the profession of law. My advice to budding lawyers is to expose themselves to a variety of jurisdictions. This helps in understanding the science of jurisprudence when looked at from the vantage point of a region’s sociology and economics. My education beyond my domicile country has helped me become a globally competitive lawyer in the region. Like every profession, lawyers must explore opportunities in different jurisdictions either by studying or working there to benchmark themselves with their global competitors.
What are your areas of expertise?
We’re a full service firm adept, through extensive ground experience, at diverse and complex legal issues that overreach the local jurisdiction. We’re a local firm connected by key decision makers and committed to the market with unique and international expertise. We’ve a strong corporate and commercial practice. Dispute resolution is an area of priority; along with an arbitration team, we’ve a litigation team with the right to audience in all the courts. We also see increased demand in Intellectual Property matters such trademark & copyright registration, infringement suits, enforcement of IP rights, and among other things, we’re also committed to our private clients and their legal needs namely testamentary succession, personal status laws and Islamic inheritance.
Can you give us some examples of legal projects you managed?
Among other things, let me share a few cases that I can now recollect. I structured the issue of AED /800.000.000/ bonds convertible into shares for one of the leading banks in the UAE. Also, I represented a major real estate development group in a three hundred million dirham case with one of the leading Islamic banks in the UAE. Aside from that I remember structuring a multi-billion dollar real estate development project on the World Islands by Nakheel. I represented real estate developers and multinational companies in their arbitration proceedings; one such is a leading multinational company in an ICC arbitration related to a multi-billion dollar EPC contract (Engineer, Procure and Construct) for a government project in the UAE.
Excellent is your minimum standard?
We believe in putting ourselves in our clients’ shoes. Our services are personalized just the way we’d expect it from someone. We keep improving our standard of service and raising our benchmark. We don’t believe in complacency and therefore we strive continuously to be more robust than our peers. We believe in ourselves and we try to do things differently; this we do by opening novel ways for a mundane transaction. By having a bird’s eye view, we look at challenge as an opportunity to excel. Thus excellence is our minimum standard.
Can you tell us more about offshore company setup?
While a company is a legal entity, and has the right to engage in business activities, an offshore company, simply put, is a company outside your own jurisdiction. The UAE is a popular destination for incorporation since it has few corporate regulations and taxes. Businesses establish offshore companies so that they aren’t subject to taxation in their home jurisdiction. These companies promote business flexibility and corporate governance is on a lighter side than their home jurisdiction. Businesses that decide to venture into new destination require research and planning to make strategic decisions in the initial most important phase of the business. We at ProConsult can make your business setup process easy by helping you set up offshore companies namely Free Zones such as Jebel Ali Free Zone and Dubai Airport Free Zone.
ProConsult has a special LLC Business Setup Offer?
Our special LLC Business Setup Offer includes sponsorship fee for the first year, legal counsel fees for business structuring and setup, drafting of MOA, and handling visa and labour services for one year. We’ve a wealth of experience behind us with a variety of foreign investments coming into the UAE from the globe. There are a lot of other options as well, usually we sit with our client and understand their needs, and customize a structure relative to the business environment whether Mainland or Free Zone.
Licensing Cost for Government Authorities are not included, what kind of additional cost are we speaking about?
Besides the costs that one would incur for sponsorship and legal consultancy, there are few government costs namely for the approval and license. We believe in transparency with our clients and thus we send them the government issued vouchers for any payment against them. Our fees are limited to what is originally decided in the package and we don’t surprise our clients with bills they never anticipated.
Banking & Insurance litigation services is a fast growing legal industry in the UAE?
Diversification of economy has resulted in the growth of BFSI (Banking, Financial Services and Insurance) industry. This has also increased the number of contentious matters where remedy is sought by the Insurance Company for the legal injury meted out to the victim. Insurance litigation is our strong practice area and we’re proficient at representing both the regular and subrogated claims. The new law on bankruptcy is a boon to the small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that are often cash-strapped. Businesses would take recourse to the bankruptcy provisions in the Commercial Transactions Law, and some would also flee the country fearing an inevitable jail term. The new law will decriminalize criminal action against the managers of the company, which would be a common-place action in the absence of this law. While recovery suits will still form a large part of our BFSI litigation practice, we’re also looking at enforcement of judgment and enforceable corporate, financial or securities related documents.
What is the DIFC exactly?
Few things peculiar to this place that know we as Dubai International Financial Centre are: (a) a financial free zone in the Emirate of Dubai; (b) independent jurisdiction; (c) English laws. DIFC envisions having an atmosphere conducive for business and financial institutions to develop in the emerging markets of the region. DIFC laws are calibrated with the best practices of the world’s leading financial jurisdictions. The premise behind the development of DIFC is to put internationally benchmarked legal, business, and physical infrastructure in one place fostering an environment that promotes economic growth in the UAE.
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