The UAE has recently amended its Civil Procedures Law and related regulations. In the following article Bassel Boutros examines the key changes and their potential impact.
On 2 September 2021, Cabinet Decision No. 75/2021 was issued amending Cabinet Decision No. 57/2018 on the Implementing Regulations to Federal Law No. 11/1992 (the UAE Civil Procedure Law)," Bassel Boutros explains. "This amended several provisions including those on notifications, supervision of judge's competence, proceedings before the partial court's chamber, payment orders and enforcement. In addition, as a result an ad-hoc court has been established and the scope of its work has been detailed." "When it was issued, Cabinet Decision No. 57/2018 which this Cabinet Decision amends was considered a quantum leap in UAE civil procedure as it introduced the use of technical and digital equipment into the UAE legal system. These recent amendments now aim to assert the importance of replacing previous traditional measures in UAE civil procedure," Boutros adds. "In particular the UAE legislator has focused on the importance of resolving civil disputes in the fastest possible way without prejudicing the parties' rights."
"In addition, Federal Decree Law No. 15/2021 which came into force on 3 September 2021 has made amendments to the UAE Civil Procedure Law (Federal Law No. 11/1992) itself," states Boutros. "For example, as a result of amendments to Article 30 of Federal Law No. 11/1992, judgments will be issued and appealed in line with the general procedures and the amendments which are contained in Cabinet Decision No. 75/2021 in relation to the proceedings before the partial court's chamber." "The aim of this change is to reduce the number of pending claims which are not attended to by the parties by amending the prescription period for a litigation dispute to one year from the last valid executed procedure," Boutros adds. "Previously, the relevant period was two years." "In addition to final judgments, decisions will also be subject to appeals, reconsideration and interpretation requests," Boutros continues. "Federal Decree-Law No. 15/2021 has also introduced a new way for the court to retract a decision which has been issued by it in chambers or its final judgment on its own accord or at the request of the person against whom the decision or judgment was issued, if a procedural error was made, there has been a violation of a judicial principle, or if a judgment has relied on a revoked law."
AD HOC COURTS
"As a result of, Article 30(2) of Federal Law No. 11/1992 which was brought in by Federal Decree Law No. 15/2021 the Justice Minister or the head of the competent local judicial authority are able to establish a one-level court or ad-hoc court, the judgements of which will be considered final," states Boutros. "These new ad-hoc courts which have been established by Cabinet Decision No. 75/2021 will rule on civil, real estate, commercial, and inheritance claims which will be determined at a later stage by a decision from the Justice Minister or the head of the local judicial authority." "However, at present it is expected the ad-hoc jurisdiction of these new courts will not cover criminal, administrative, employment claims or most personal status matters. Inheritance claims, temporary or summary orders and requests which were initially submitted and cases which were lodged before the establishment of the ad-hoc court will also be excluded from their remit."
PARTIAL COURT CHAMBER PROCEEDINGS
"In addition, as a result of amendments to Article 22 of Cabinet Decision No. 57/2018, partial court chambers which have been allocated by a Ministerial Decision from the Justice Ministry, or the head of the competent local judicial authority will be able to examine and rule on civil, commercial, and employment disputes which do not exceed 1,000,000 AED," Boutros continues. "In the past, they were only able to do this if the amount was less than 500,000 AED." "In parallel, and given the higher amount of the new claim value, in such cases the general applicable rules and procedures will apply." "Another area where there has been a change is that the period during which a party is entitled to lodge an appeal against the first instance judgment is now 30 days rather than 15." Boutros notes. "In addition, a formal appeal against judgments will be accepted providing a detailed appeal memo showing the appeal's grounds has been submitted during the first hearing. Judgments issued by the Court of Appeal will also be subject to appeal to the Court of Cassation." "However, it should also be noted that petitions to appoint experts or any request concerning evidence will not be included when estimating the value of a claim if it is submitted with substantive requests." "It should also be noted that if the claimant is requesting compensation without specifying its value, the request will be considered as not exceeding 500,000 AED which differs from the previous position as the courts used to refrain from registering a claim which contained compensation demands without the amount having been stated."
ENFORCEMENT AND REMEDIES
"Despite these changes provisions on decisions by an execution judge subject for grievance have stayed the same," Boutros continues. "However, the amendments do state the grievance must be examined by a different judge to the one who issued the original decision," states Boutros. "In addition, the decision issued by the execution judge determining the amount which is the subject of the execution and whether the enforcement proceedings should be stayed, can be appealed before the Court of Appeal within 10 days of it being issued or its notification," Boutros adds. "This change has been introduced because in some cases the conclusion part of a judgment involves more than one party, and their various obligations can be stated in a complicated way. In other cases, there can also be a contradiction between that part of the judgment and its merits, which leads to a dispute between the relevant parties before the execution judge." "As a result of the amendments to Article 136 and 152 of Cabinet Decision No. 57/2018 on the execution on a debtor's movables and real estate and where there is more than one creditor involved in the execution, the objection of any creditor to the debtor's application to sell the assets to a certain buyer will also automatically lead to the application being rejected and the assets being sold via public auction," states Boutros. "Before these amendments were brought in, if the majority of the creditors approved the debtor's application, it would be accepted despite other creditors objecting to it." "Notifying the debtor, the possessor, and the guarantor as well as the publication of the sale can also now be done by posting on the court's website," Boutros continues. "In addition, Cabinet Decision No. 75/2021 has brought in new articles which clarify that the provisions of Federal Law No. 39/2006 on International Judicial Co-operation in Criminal Matters will cover any provisions on travel bans and arrest orders which have been issued against foreigners in the UAE," Boutros notes.
"There have also been changes on payment orders," states Boutros." "As under Article 64 of Cabinet Decision No. 75/2021 the payment order judge must issue a justified order if they accept the petition in cases where the payment order is subject to the execution of a commercial contract." "In addition, the period to lodge an appeal against a payment order with a value which exceeds the Court of First Instance's maximum limit has been amended to 30 days instead of 15," Boutros adds. "However, the appeal must be lodged with a detailed memo which shows the grounds on which it is based. The Court of Appeal will also have no authority to return the claim back to the Court of First Instance unless the claim was submitted in line with the ordinary procedures for filing a claim and the supervising judge has issued a payment order."
ROLE OF SUPERVISING JUDGE
"Another change is that a supervising judge's jurisdiction will be determined by a decision from the Justice Minister or the head of the local judicial authority," Boutros adds. "The supervising judge will also have no authority to dismiss a claim because the court fees have not been settled." "The power to approve assignments has also been removed from the supervising judge's power", Boutros continues. "However, supervising judges will be able to issue payment orders if the competencies of a payment-order judge have been vested in them in line with the decision issued by the Justice Minister or the head of the local judicial authority."
"As a result of these amendments there have also been changes on notifications," Boutros adds. "For example, the parties will be able to determine the means of notification in line with the Regulations. In addition, if a party refuses to receive the notification from the process server, or if the process server fails to deliver the notice because the relevant party is absent, it will now be possible for the notification to be executed by being published on the court's website," Boutros explains. "However, it should be noted that notification will not take effect until 30 days after the posting of the notification on the court website." "When Cabinet Decision No. 57/2018 first came into force there were a number of cases where parties had their cases thrown out as they had failed to consider the impact of the new procedures." "As these amendments relate to judicial procedures before the UAE Civil Courts, it is vital lawyers and legal advisors review them carefully so they can take the appropriate measures and actions within the applicable deadlines, in order avoid the dismissal of claims in form." Boutros adds.
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