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United Arab Emirates


3. The Judicial System

To maintain harmony between them the Emirates were given the constitutional right to opt for joining the Federal judicial system or to maintain their own independent system. Except for Dubai and Ras Al Khaima who maintain their own judicial systems, the other Emirates have joined the Federal system.
The Federal UAE courts, similar to the courts in most of the countries in the Area, are organised to form two main divisions civil and criminal and are also generally divided to three stages of litigation namely courts of First Instance, Appeal and the Federal Supreme Court (colloquially referred to as Court of Cassation). The  jurisdiction of the third division, namely the Shariah courts, which initially was to review matters of personal status, was expanded in certain Emirates such as Abu Dhabi to include serious criminal cases, labour and other commercial matters. Important cases with a security aspect are referred to special courts.

Dubai and Ras Al Khaima initially organised their courts on two stages later expanded in Dubai by the establishment of the Dubai Court of Cassation.

  4. The Judiciary

Although the trend began in recent years, to appoint an increasing number of  judges, who are UAE Nationals,  to the different divisions of the Federal courts by the Ministry of Justice from amongst graduates of recognised law/Shariah colleges, is continuing, there are still a few senior expatriate Arab judges serving especially in the higher courts. 

Judges who serve in the courts of the other Emirates are appointed by Emiri Decrees. 

5. The Legal Profession

Practising lawyers have to be licensed to practice law in the Federal courts by the Ministry of Justice and in the Emiri Diwan in the other Emirates. Lawyers must be graduates of a recognised law/Shariah college. Although in the past expatriate Arab lawyers were licensed to practice at the Federal courts and the other Emirates, the general trend is to restrict such practice to qualified UAE nationals. Expatriates were given a period during which they had to transfer their practice to a national lawyer. 

UK, US and European law firms are only allowed to practice as legal consultants, but are not allowed to plead cases in the courts.

6. Laws Regulating Litigation 

Law regulating Appeals to the Federal Supreme Court No. 17 of 1978.
Federal Law Regulating the Legal Profession No. 23 of 1991.

Federal Law of Evidence in Civil and Commercial Transactions No. 10 of 1992.

Civil Procedures Law No. 11 of 1992 which the Emirate of Dubai decreed to apply in the Dubai Courts. 




Legal System of the United Arab Emirates UAE: foreign companies / corporates doing business.


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