United Arab of Emirates Legal System

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The United Arab Emirates is a federal state founded in year 1971 and consists of seven sovereign provinces governing their own territories. The Constitution established the legal system based on the following pillars: –

  • Supreme Council of Rulers
  • President and his deputy  
  • Council of Ministers  
  • National Council
  • Judiciary

The Cabinet proposes and drafts bills before submitting the bill to the Federal National Council (FNC) which examines the bill and can only propose amendments but cannot initiate new legislation because of its role as an advisory body. The official mandate of the FNC is to provide for a public debate on legislation once considered by the FNC. The bill is presented to the President for signature after being ratified by the Supreme Council which is the highest authority in the Federation and includes the rulers of the seven Emirates. On the other hand, the judicial system is based on the principles of civil law and Islamic jurisprudence, while some free zones have their own English-speaking courts, modeled on the common law judicial system, such as the Abu Dhabi Global Market and the Dubai International Financial Center. Some emirates have their own independent local courts like Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah. While the others are part of Federal Court systems like Sharjah, Fujairah, Umm al-Quwain and Ajman).

Court System of United Arab of Emirates

The court system has been split into the following layers: –

Court of First Instance

The Court of First Instance has general jurisdiction for hearing all the disputes. It has the task of reviewing the evidence in order to determine the facts of the case It is split up into three main sections: – civil, criminal and personal status. The civil cases section examines civil, commercial, administrative and labor disputes, while the personal status court is responsible for family matters such as inheritance, divorce, alimony and child custody. Finally, the criminal sections examine offenses such as contraventions (violations), misdemeanors and crimes referred to court by the public prosecutor who initiates criminal proceedings by filing the case, investigating and imposing charges on the accused.

Intermediate appellate court

An appeal against a decision of the court of first instance is lodged with the intermediate court of appeal for factual or legal reasons.

Court of Cassation

If they are still not satisfied with the decision of the Court of Appeal, the parties can appeal on points of law alone to the Court of Cassation whose decisions are final and without appeal. If there is no system of precedent, lower courts must respect the principles set out by the Court of Cassation.

Federal Supreme Court

Certain cases must be heard by the Federal Supreme Court such as breaches of state security, interpretation of the Constitution and the constitutionality of laws, hearing of offenses committed by senior officials and disputes between seven emirates.