Monday, October 25, 2010

The Legal System Of The U.A.E

Practitioner's designation
Advocate. Partnerships are permitted. A local advocate must sponsor any partnership.
Professional education
Candidates must be United Arab Emirates (UAE) nationals and possess a law degree from the College of Law of Al-Ain University or from a recognised Arab university. Arab lawyers with ten years' practice in another Arab country may also be admitted. Non-Arabs are now allowed to practise law in the UAE courts. Foreign law firms are permitted to establish offices but are not admitted as practitioners.
The law has recently been changed requiring practitioners to be exclusively UAE nationals. Arab lawyers who are at present licensed to practise must surrender their licence by the year 1996. However, they may still have the right of audience but in the name of a UAE practitioner.
Other professional designations
Notarial services and authentication are undertaken by the Clerk of Justice and the Registrar of Real Property, both of whom are employees of the Ministry of Justice. However, in the Emirates of Sharjah and Ras Al-Khaima these services are rendered by a Notary Public who is regulated by local laws.
In court
Separate admission must be obtained for each of the seven emirates of the federation. Advocates of 15 years' standing may be admitted to the Supreme Court.
The UAE is a federation established in 1971 and comprised of seven emirates namely: Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ras Al-Khaima, Umm Al-Quwain, Ajman and Fujairah. The promulgation of substantive legislation is confined to the federal institutions, but local authorities may regulate local matters. Prior to establishing the UAE each of the seven emirates passed laws and regulations, including those establishing and regulating the judicial system. For example, Abu Dhabi promulgated a law in 1968 establishing and regulating the courts and Law Number 3 of 1970 dealt with procedures before the civil courts. Dubai promulgated a law establishing its courts in 1970 and Fujairah followed suit in 1969.Ajman, Sharjah, Ras Al-Khaima and Umm Al-Quwain established their courts by laws passed in 1971. Some of the local laws still continue to be in force and effect.
At the head of the federal judicial system is the Federal Supreme Court whose function and operations are stipulated in a particular federal law. The Constitution also provides for the establishment of lower federal courts. Each of the seven emirates, however, retains the right to choose either to participate in the federal legal system or to maintain its own local system. Four emirates (Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ajman and Fujairah) fused their local courts into the federal system. The remaining three (Dubai, Ras Al-Khaima and Umm Al-Quwain) maintain their own independent courts. These three emirates initially based their court system on a two-tier structure while on the federal level it is a three-tier system. The Emirate of Dubai, created a further tier by establishing a Court of Cassation in addition to its courts of first instance and appeal.
In the UAE establishment of civil and criminal courts resulted in diminishing the role of the Shari'a Courts. Nevertheless, the competence of the Shari'a Courts in some emirates, particularly Abu Dhabi, was later expanded to include in addition to matters of personal status, civil and commercial disputes as well as serious criminal offences. Therefore, in addition to the civil courts, each of the seven emirates maintains a parallel system of Shari'a Courts which is organised and supervised locally.
The official language of all legal proceedings is Arabic.
Al-Baharna, HM. 'United Arab Emirates'. International Encyclopaedia of Comparative Law, Vol 1, 1973. Pages U53-57.
Amin, Dr SH. 'Legal Systems of the Gulf'. Lloyd's Maritime & Commercial Law Quarterly, February 1983. Pages 71-85.
Ballantyne, WM. Legal Development in Arabia. Graham & Trotman, London, 1980. 125 pages. ISBN 0 86010 167 3.
Mahmoud, Sabah. UAE Company Law and Practice. Medina Publishing, London, 1990. 230 pages. ISBN 1 873210 00 0.
Professional associations
Lawyers Society, c/o Ministry of Justice-Islamic Affairs (Awqaf), PO Box 753, Abu Dhabi, UAE. Tel: (2) 652 224. Fax: (2) 316 003.
Dubai Lawyers Society, c/o Court's Department, PO Box 4700, Dubai, UAE. Tel: (4) 285 151. Fax: (4) 624 099.
Enforcement of Foreign Judgments
by Sabah Al-Mukhtar, LLB, MA, Attorney-at-Law (practising in London)
The Federal UAE Code of Civil Procedures No 11 of 1992 ('CPC') contains the rules on conflict of laws and private international law provisions. The Civil Code No 5 of 1985 also contains rules on conflict of laws and private international law provisions (Articles 10-28). However, the CPC sets out the process to be followed for enforcement of foreign judgments, orders and instruments.
Article 235 of the CPCestablished the principle that foreign judgments, orders and instruments may be enforced in the UAE under the same preconditions attached to them in the country of origin. It also provides that the enforcement process is commenced by means of an application to be made to the court of first instance in whose jurisdiction the enforcement order is being sought.

The application made in this instance is the same as that of commencing an ordinary suite before the court. That involves all the normal formalities such as a statement of claim, registration, payment of fees, procuring a writ of summons.
Before the court makes the enforcement order it must be satisfied that a number of conditions are met. These, inter alia, include:
a. the UAE court did not itself have the competence or jurisdiction to hear the case and that the foreign court was the proper court having the locus standi under the law of the court;
b. the foreign court had the jurisdiction and competence to hear and decide the case;
c. the parties were properly served and represented in the hearing;
d. the judgment is based on the merits, in conformity with the lex fori and is final (res judicata); and
e. it was not contrary to UAE public policy or to a previous UAE court judgment.

Article 238 of the CPC provides that the provisions of the code in this regard will be subject to any treaty that the UAE is a signatory to. The UAE is a signatory to the regional Arab Judicial Treaty of 1983 (otherwise known as the Riyadh Treaty) to which the 21 Arab countries are signatories. The Treaty affords favourable treatment to decisions of the courts of the Arab member states by treating such judgments as domestic and are automatically recognised in the UAE.