Legal system of the United Arab Emirates
By Hesham Elrafei
The legal and courts system in the U
nited Arab of Emirates visualized and explained in plain English in a nutshell.
The United Arab Emirates , is a federal State founded In 1971 , and It consists of 7 sovereign provinces, governing their own territories.
The Constitution established the legal system , based on 5 pillars as follows :
the Supreme Council of Rulers ,
The President and his deputy ,
the Council of Ministers ,
the National Council
and The Judiciary.
The Cabinet , propose and draft the bills
before submitting the bill to the federal National Council ,
which reviews the bill , and can only propose amendments ,
but cannot initiate a new legislation, seeings its role as a consultative ( advisory ) body;
The FNC’s official mandate is to provide for public debate of legislation.
once reviewed by the FNC, The proposed legislation, is presented to the President for signature , after being ratified by the Supreme Council , who is the highest Authority within the Federation , and comprises the Rulers of the seven Emirates.
On the other hand, the courts system is based upon civil law principles, and Islamic jurisprudence, while some free zones have their own English speaking courts, modeled on the common law judicial system, like Abu Dhabi Global Market , and Dubai International Financial Centre.
Some emirates have their own local independent courts
Like Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah , While the others are part of the Federal Court system ( Sharjah, Fujairah, Umm al-Quwain, and Ajman),
The court system is divided into three layers : a trial first instance court , An intermediate appellate court ( the court Appeal ) ,
and a last resort court ( the Court of Cassation )
The Court of First Instance , has general jurisdiction to hear all disputes , And it's divided into three main sections: and review evidence to determine the facts of the case; Civil, Criminal, and personal status.
The civil cases section, looks into civil, commercial, administrative, and labour disputes; While the personal status court , has jurisdiction over family cases. like inheritance , divorce , Alimony and child custody.
Lastly the criminal sections, looks into offences like contraventions (violations), misdemeanors, and felonies cases, referred to the court by the public prosecution , who initiates the criminal process , By filing the case, investigating it , and imposing charges on the accused person.
Appeal against a Court of First Instance decision, is made to the intermediate appellate court , on factual or legal grounds.
If still not happy with the Court of Appeal decision, the parties may appeal , on points of law alone , to the Court of Cassation , whose decisions are final and are not subject to appeal .
While there is no system of precedent, Lower courts must observe the principles set down by the Court of Cassation.
On the other hand, some cases must be heard by the Federal Supreme Court , like state security offences , the interpretation of the Constitution and the constitutionality of Laws, the hearing of offences committed by senior officials , and disputes between the 7 emirates.