Sunday, August 22, 2010

New bad cheque court urges changes in the law

A new Dubai court has been set up to specifically handle cases relating to bad cheques and has led to calls for a change in the law relating to bounced cheques, it was reported on Sunday.
Judge Ahmed Saif, chief justice of the Dubai Criminal Courts, said around 100 bad cheque cases are heard before the weekly court, The National newspaper reported.
It is a criminal offense to bounce a cheque in the UAE, but the increase in cases relating to this has led to calls within the legal community for a review of the law and how the cases are heard.
“People have to sign blank cheques to rent, borrow, purchase and do business in Dubai. If conditions make it the only method of [doing] business, the courts must not criminalise non-payment,” criminal lawyer Harun Tahlak is quoted as saying in the report.
“Article 401 of the UAE penal code needs to be changed or dropped. [It] states that one who defaults on a cheque with criminal intention can be jailed or fined. But the courts routinely sentence people to jail,” he added.
Fellow lawyer Ali Musabah from PanGlobe Advocates and Legal Consultants argued that the courts rarely issue fines for cheque cases and that jail time should only be for repeat offenders.
“I believe the courts should issue fines for first-time offenders [owing] small amounts. If a person was unable to repay his credit card or bank loan for good reason, he should be fined not jailed,” he told The National.