Things you should know about: Corporate Criminal Liability in UAE

18 Apr 2022

For several years, we have discussed Intellectual Property (IP) as one of the legal mechanisms we have in order to protect creators, innovators, and authors from unlawful use by third parties while still encouraging innovation and development. 

Studying Corporate Criminal Liability implies that legal persons may be liable and held accountable for criminal offences committed by natural persons working for the company. Such principle has been imagined after the theory of vicarious liability, according to which the superior is responsible for the acts committed by their subordinates. Most jurisdictions have a comparable doctrine regarding Corporate Criminal Liability. To hold a company liable for the acts of one of its agents two elements must be present:

  • The act committed must be considered as a crime
  • The company’s agent must act within the scope of employment to assist the company.

Corporate Criminal Liability in UAE is not different from this global regime. Indeed, Article 65 of the Federal Penal Code states that “juridical persons, except governmental agencies, are responsible for any criminal act committed for their account or in their name by any of their representatives”. It is important to be precise that under this law, the penalty enforced on the corporation does not prevent UAE authorities to charge the individual offenders with non-financial penalties. Moreover, the victims of the actions of the corporation can file requests for civil compensation following the damages they suffered from due to the actions of the company.

To prosecute cases related to Corporate Criminal Liability in UAE, three authorities are involved: the Police department, the Public Prosecution’s office and the Criminal Courts. They all fulfil a different role:

  • Police Department: According to the official website of the government of the UAE, “The role of the police is to safeguard the public, take initial statements from complainants and witnesses, arrest suspects, carry out investigations and work out the orders from the Public Prosecution to assist in the investigation process.”
  • Public Prosecution’s Office: Its role is to initiate criminal cases on behalf of the society members. Its area of competence includes criminal cases to fulfil justice and compliance with the rules of law, and all other competencies stated by the law or expected under its administrative role. The Public Prosecution handles the initiation of criminal cases, from the investigation to the indictment when the accused is proven to be guilty of the criminal charges they have been accused of, or if the case is dismissed. According to Article 7 of the Criminal Procedures Law, the Public Prosecution has “exclusive jurisdiction to initiate and prosecute criminal proceedings. It also has the authority to track it until a final judgement is rendered”
  • Criminal Courts: These courts handle criminal cases initiated by the federal or local prosecution in each of the emirates. The Criminal Courts of UAE include courts of the first instance, courts of appeal and a third court fulfilling the role of the supreme court, for instance in Abu Dhabi it is the court of cassation.

In UAE it is very important to keep updated with your current status regarding potential criminal proceedings initiated against you, as it may result in a travel ban for instance. This is why many people wonder “how to check if I have any police case in UAE?”. The way to check is straightforward: each emirate has online services, via the website or mobile applications, enabling residents to verify whether they are requested by the Public Prosecution for any pending case against them. One also can call the police of the emirate they live in, for instance, the Dubai police’s phone number is 901.
In a conclusion, companies should bear in mind the importance to comply with the rules of the jurisdiction they conduct their business in, as Corporate Criminal Liability is a wide concept. It would be a wise step if a company prefers to hire a legal advisor at their side. Individuals should be careful about what they undertake, as it may result in the company they work for being held liable for their actions.