Expert Insight

UAE Judicial System Lawyer . Abduallah AL-Awadhi


allowed to either establish its own judiciary or to merge with the federal court system. This System is dual in nature as it has Federal Court System where it includes courts of first instance (trial court), courts of appeal and the court of cassation (Supreme Court) and State Court System where the State (or Emirate) judicial system has also trial, appeal and cassation courts. The Emirates of Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Ras Al-Khaimah have their own courts of cassation.

Unlike Britain and other countries where previous court judgments are regularly used as legal precedents, the UAE does not depend that much on precedents, although sometimes the judgments of higher courts can be applied by lower courts in similar cases.

Where legislative provisions do not cover a specific issue, the court will make a decision in accordance with Sharia law. Islamic jurisprudence is widely used in the construction and interpretation of the UAE law.

The United Arab Emirates’ Constitution, which came into effect on 2 December 1971, dedicates all its fifth Section for the Union legal system. Article 94 of the Constitution stipulates that "justice is the basis of authority"

The United Arab Emirates is essentially a civil law jurisdiction that depends in the first place on Roman, French, Egyptian laws. However, the main source of the Emirati law is the Sharia law. International law is another source of Emirati law, in compliance with the UAE obligations signed in international conventions.

In addition, UAE has an experience and trails with Common Law Courts. Taking in consideration the expats from worldwide living in UAE, it was substantial to establish Dubai International Financial Center Courts (DIFC) and Abu Dhabi Global Market Courts (ADGM).

The DIFC Courts are an independent English language common law judiciary, with jurisdiction governing civil and commercial disputes nationally, regionally and worldwide. The Courts began operations in 2006.

Originally, the jurisdiction of the DIFC Courts was limited to the geographical area of the DIFC. On October 2011, the signing of Dubai Law No 16 allowed the DIFC Courts to hear any local or international cases and to resolve commercial disputes with the consent of all parties.

ADGM established in accordance with Abu Dhabi Law No (4) of 2013, ADGM Courts are broadly modelled on the English judicial system. The common law of England, including the principles and rules of Equity, apply and form part of the law of the Abu Dhabi Global Market. The Regulations for ADGM Courts were also drawn from Scots and Australian Federal law and have been tailored specifically to meet the requirements of ADGM Courts. The direct application of English law makes ADGM the first jurisdiction in the Middle East to adopt a similar approach to that of Singapore and Hong Kong.


Electric Judicial System


Aiming to speed up litigations before courts, the Ministry of Justice had, transformed 95 per cent of its services into electronic services.

Some of these services include search of status of a case, which enables litigants to view the hearing schedule online. In addition, it has engines for searching lawyers, eNotary public, eFiling, eCalendar and searching Shariah Maazoon (court-authorised officials who conclude marriages outside the court premises).

The Case Management System (CMS) helps litigants to file documents electronically, reduces delays in civil court cases and improves efficiency by making information more accessible to all parties.

Further, UAE Ministry of Justice launched the legislations ePortal (in Arabic and English) which contains all the general legal texts published in the Official Gazette since the establishment of the UAE in 1971. It also provide access to the following:

•         the UAE Legislation (in Arabic)

•         the UAE laws in English

•         the UAE High Court case decisions (both civil and criminal)

•         the consultations of the department of consultations (Fatwa) and legislations of Ministry of Justice

•         the International Treaties signed and ratified by the UAE classified by countries and subjects.

UAE Local judicial departments have also adopted eServices for litigants and legal professionals to avail information about all the cases and procedures.

Recently, defendants in criminal cases in Dubai can now appear for their court hearings via Skype. The Dubai Police's department of criminal investigation has launched a 'remote trial' room or virtual courtrooms that will see defendants stand trial via video conference while at the correctional facilities.

According to the Dubai police, the new smart system is aimed at embracing digital services in the judicial system and to speed up trials. The remote trial system has helped cut the number of judicial procedures from seven to three. The system also allows prosecutors to carry out investigations through conference calls instead of having to carry around case files.


Committees of Disputes Resolution:


Before filing a case, whether it is a civil, labour or personal status, the UAE's court system facilitates mediation through committees, which include:

•         commercial disputes resolution committees

•         family guidance committees

•         settlement and reconciliation committees

•         rental dispute resolution committees

•         labour dispute resolution committees.

These committees aim to solve disputes amicably and reduce the burden of judicial fees. If an amicable settlement is not possible, the litigating party can apply for a 'No objection' letter from the relevant mediation committee and submit a statement of claim to the relevant court. Then, the case is filed to be seen by the judge in the respective Court of First Instance. These committees actually contributed main role to the resolution of many disputes amicably and also contributed to relieve the pressure of cases before the courts, especially in relation to small claims.


Department of Case Management


UAE Courts inaugurated the Department of Case Preparation & Management along with launching a video communication system to keep abreast of developments by establishing smart channels that provide easy services to litigants.

The Department of Case Management is a main part of the efforts of the UAE Courts to provide soft services to litigants, in accordance with the highest standards.

Whereas Case Management Department facilitates the litigants to follow their judicial procedures in the case management office Without having to come and review in person.

In addition, Case Management system provides a positive and motivating indicator for further saving work and exertion. It represents a shift in services and provide advanced and technical services to enhance awareness about the key factors affecting the building of a culture of happiness and quality of life.

It creates a place dedicated to the preparation of cases before the same to be reviewed by the judges which is an important addition in the work of the litigation as the Case Management Department is now considered as one of the main departments in the courts system which directly supports the justice procedures and their realization and application on the ground, and provide its services to litigants within a clear methodology.

The Department of Case Management shall assume the duties of assessing and collecting the prescribed fees in accordance with the law, registering in the special register as the case may be. In addition, the case manager shall call the litigants and complete the data, documents, experience reports and memos. The Department shall assist the judges of the courts all stages of litigation from the receipt of cases files until the preparation of the case file to the competent court, the Department undertakes a range of tasks, including follow-up decisions assigned by the presidents of the courts and circulate it to all court officials, follow-up and implement the requests and needs of the presidents of the courts, and follow-up requests of the Judicial Inspection Department, judges, prosecutors and secretaries.

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