All You Need to Know About Litigation and Execution Procedures in The UAE

civil law


March 30, 2022



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The United Arab Emirates comprises of the Seven Emirates: Dubai, Sharjah, Abu Dhabi, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, Um al Quwain and Ajman. In addition, the UAE also has several Free Zone entities across its seven Emirates, and each free zone is designed around one or more business industry categories, and an independent Free Zone Authority (FZA) governs each free zone. Today, the UAE offers close to forty multidisciplinary free zones that allow for full ownership of complies for ex-pats.

The most popular names are the Jebel Ali Freezone (JAFZA), Dubai Airport Freezone (DAFZA), Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC), Sharjah Media City Free Zone (Shams), Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone (RAKEZ) and Financial free zones such as Dubai International Free zone Centre (DIFC), and Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) among others.

Though often stated as a civil law system, the UAE is, in fact, constitutes a dual legal system of civil and Sharia laws. Further, the country has also introduced common law to a certain extent, as the same is practiced in the Dubai International Free zone Centre (DIFC). DIFC describes its presence as a unique legal framework that is based on international standards and principles of common law that are focused on catering to the regional requirements. Overall, the legal system in the UAE draws from Islamic Sharia law.

However, most of the codified laws of the UAE can be defined to be a mixture of both Islamic Sharia laws as well as the legal influences from the Egyptian and French Civil laws. Litigation in general can be a costly as well as time-consuming experience. However, compared to many other jurisdictions, the UAE court procedures are more fast-paced with definitive measures in place. That said to the commoner, the litigation and execution measures may still be a cause of concern which is often associated with lack of awareness. The process in itself is often confusing. Therefore, through this article, we would like to take you through the basics of the litigation process, which broadly comprises of two steps' litigation' and 'execution'.

Three Tier Court System:

The local court system in the UAE consists of a three-tier system comprising of the Court of First Instance (federal and local), Court of Appeal (federal and local), Court of Cassation at the local level of the emirates and the Federal Supreme Court (at the federal level). The Three-tier legal system essentially allows the parties to challenge the court's judgment with a higher court and to be able to present more evidence as well as to participate in further adjudication in a given matter.

In the court process, a judgment is said to become final when it either completes the three stages of litigation or the maximum stages possible. For instance, in certain matters based on the claim amount, it might not be possible to appeal the case up to the cassation court. In another instance, if either the judgment creditor or debtor choose to accept the judgment issued by the first court, as it is and forgo the appeal process, the judgment will become final.

Execution Process:

As discussed above, once the final judgment is issued, the judgment creditor is required to proceed with execution measures before the execution court. Pursuant to , “Article 69 of the Cabinet Decision No. 57/2018 on the Regulation of Federal Law No. 11/1992 on the Civil Procedure, 'Execution shall be made under the supervision of the execution judge assigned at the seat of each court of the first instance and shall be assisted by a sufficient number of execution officers, or private companies or offices.”

Article 97 of the implanting regulation governing civil procedure code states the procedures part of the execution steps, which include:

  • The execution is preceded by the service of the writ of execution.
  • The service paper is required to state the matter and the notice to pay the debt served upon the debtor within fifteen days from the date of his notification.
  • If the writ of execution is issued based on a contract to open a letter of credit, it shall be notified together with an extract of the debtor's account as per the creditor's current ledgers.
  • In the event of execution by the evacuation of a property or by the delivery of a movable or real estate, the notice of the writ of execution shall adequately specify such funds.
  • If the writ of execution includes a date for evacuation or delivery, the notice shall mention such date.

Execution measures are critical to the success of your claim as it brings you to the final steps of converting your court victory to actual reality. The execution courts are empowered to order acute measures such as provisions seizure of the debtor's funds in accordance with the rules and procedures, may prevent the execution debtor from travelling before the announcement of the writ, as well as an order to inquire about the debtor's funds prior to his notification of the writ of execution.

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