UAE Judicial System: All Things you should know

19 Apr 2022

The UAE proposed its federal system in a way that best suited the requirement of the given situation. The seven emirates of UAE use their sovereign before the unification of UAE which is now single unity unlike before dealing with its own families and civil disputes.

The UAE constitution has given full authority to its emirates in terms of ruling which will be decided by the ruler of that particular emirates. Each emirate deals with its executive and legislative authority to govern that emirate. Nevertheless, the federal government retains sole jurisdiction in regards to foreign affairs which makes emirates govern only regional matters unless the federal government has taken the authority.

Under Article 45 of the UAE constitution, the Federal Judiciary is one among the five forms that contain the federal authorities of the UAE Government. The UAE judiciary system is self-reliant from any other authority governing it, which gives the judges independent will to give judgment by following the set of laws and their principles. This makes every case presented in the court of UAE to be dealt with fairly in accordance to law without any external factor affecting the ruling as per Article 94, which states that the UAE constitution gives assurance to the value of UAE mission with regards to judge’s conscience. This includes everyone that is being presented before the courts of UAE, whether they are Emiratis or foreign nationals to enjoy their right to a fair trial under UAE law.


Structure of the judicial system

The federal judiciary is controlled by the federal supreme court which is the highest authority in UAE and the local judicial department at the local government level.

These Two systems govern the UAE. The ministry of justice governs by the federal court of supreme deals with court and prosecution disputes at the international level across the UAE. Furthermore, the team of experts is assigned like the legal translator to help with the foreign language, licensed lawyers to handle the case sensibly and the judge with a great understanding of law enforced.

Article 92 to 109 of the UAE constitution states further detailed responsibilities and general principles with regards to two systems of UAE. The emirates of UAE under this article are given the right to choose either to join in the federal judiciary or handle its local jurisdiction. The emirates like Sharjah, Ajman, Fujairah, and Umm Al Quwain joined the federal judicial system. Nevertheless, emirates like Abu Dhabi made their local jurisdiction known as the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department, the court of Dubai for Dubai, and RAK courts in Ras Al Khaimah which follows its judicial department.

Regardless, they don’t hinder matter that is assigned for the federal judiciary of UAE constitution. While it is not permitted for local emirates court to take away the jurisdiction of federal law. Under Article 105 that states all or selected local emirates courts can be referred to the federal court of first instances. There is a list of areas permitted by federal law where appeal counter to judgment of local authorities in penal, civil, commercial, and other specified cases can be presented before federal courts. The Federal Law Number 11 of 1973 that maintains the judicial relationship with emirates also provides the detailed list of disputes under Article 99 to 102 that should be heard only before the federal court and not before any local or emirates level.


Ministry of justice in the UAE

The ministry of justice sets the propositions and implements changes to the rules of procedure for civil and criminal litigation to serve fair justice. This is done by managing the overseas disputes at the federal level by arranging the team of experts for the litigation process as mentioned above. As per Article 6 of Federal Law No. 1 of 1972 based on the ministry and ability of minister, the jurisdiction comprises of amendable and administrative and financial affairs by the federal courts, making draft rules related to the Federal Judiciary, the federal public prosecution, general amnesty from the judgments delivered by the federal courts, and all other legal matters required by the demand in different federal ministry, making major draft legislation related to the rules on property law, public interest, disciplinary law, civil and commercial procedures laws, corporate law, ruling before civil and criminal courts, rights and laws of deportation of criminals.


The federal judicial authority

The federal judiciary is independent of all the authority under the constitution of the UAE. Provides equal treatment to all regardless of nationality, race, and religion. Furthermore, the Constitution does not permit uninformed arrest, inhumane handling, and illegal interruption of private possessions. The federal judiciary comprises the federal supreme court, federal courts, and public prosecution.

The federal supreme court first became known over the agreement between late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum during the year 1968. The federal supreme court began under Federal Law Number 10 of 1973 with the introduction of the federal judiciary in UAE.

The judges for supreme courts are elected by the president of UAE following the approval of the federal supreme council which appoints 5 judges. Under the constitution of UAE, the president and judges appointed for the supreme court cannot be withdrawn or eliminates from their services except for death, resignation, upon completing the terms of the contract settled, retirement, uncertain inability to carry out their responsibilities by reasons of medical needs, disciplinal expulsion with law, transfer of their role to other offices, with their terms. It is important to note the role and ability of the supreme court.


The Supreme court of UAE handles matter that deals with matter;

i) Between emirates and the Federal Government.

ii) If there is a dispute of constitutional legality between local constitution which is challenged or goes against the federal constitution.

iii) If there is the need to re-examine the emirates set law upon request by any other emirates.

iv) Interference with local law by the federal court upon request of the federal entity.

v) Interviewing the federal representatives upon the appeal by the supreme court.

vi) Criminal conduct that interferes directly with federal authority which involves criminal conduct relating to internal or external security, misleading any official records. The resulting decision of the supreme court will be final and obligatory upon all. Unless the president excuses the death sentence which was resulted from the federal judiciary.


Federal Courts in the UAE

The UAE holds one or more than one federal court of the first instance in its emirates to exercise the power of its jurisdiction. To maintain control of its jurisdiction which comprises of cases that relate to civil, and corporate disputes between the Federation and the citizens, whether the Federation is claimant or respondent. The crimes that are committed within the geographical area of the federation. Individual status actions, civil and commercial claims, and other claims between the citizens that take place within a geographical area of the Federation. The law provides the guidelines with all matter that deals with the federal court of first instances which relate to organization, local jurisdiction, department and also the procedures and oath taken by the judges and what service they are obliged to serve. Public prosecution is one of three components that makes the federal judicial system of the UAE.

Federal Law Number 35 of 1992 with regards to the criminal procedure law which states the power and assistance over and above the police and security facilities shall be provided to the public prosecutor with due consideration to and by agreement of cabinet. A criminal lawyer can help one gain insight in this regard.


Transformation of the judicial system

To meet the demand and speed up the process of litigation, UAE has made almost 95 per cent’s services into electronic form as from 2015. This can help an individual to track the progress of the case and also the update on the hearing dates booked. These services comprise of finding lawyers, Notary public, filing complaints, and online marriages. The case management system is built to guide people on how to use online services and provide information faster.

Furthermore, The UAE has enforced legislation that provides services on Official Gazette which can be available in Arabic and English. Some of the following that is accessible online include the UAE Legislation, laws, High Court case verdicts, and legislations of the Ministry of Justice. The constitution designed by UAE provides many such guidelines that help to resolves diversities in the given situation on a case basis. The federal judiciary has understood the need of expert and therefore provide international expert advice on cases that need assistance. This makes the UAE judiciary neutrally fair towards everyone that appears before the federal courts.