criminal law


September 19, 2021



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Forgery can be defined as the act of forging a copy or imitation of a document, signature, banknote, work of art etc. To prove forgery, the burden of proof is always on the claimant, and the respondent may deny the charges. However, if the charges are proven to be true, then the individual may face charges for misrepresentation and fraud.

Article 251 of the UAE Penal Code (Federal Decree-Law No 31 of 2021 On the Issuance of the Crimes and Penalties Law) defines forgery as: "the forgery of a document means any alteration of the truth in any of the methods indicated below, and which may cause harm with the intention to use it as a genuine document. ." The seven methods stated to be considered as committing the crime of forgery are as follows:

  1. "Alteration of an existing document, either by removing or changing the writing of the document, or the numbers, the marks, or pictures included in or on the document.

  2. Placement of a forged signature or seal or by altering a genuine signature, seal, or fingerprint.

  3. Taking by surprise or by fraud the signature, seal, or fingerprint of a period without being aware of the content of the document or without valid consent.

  4. Creation of a fake document or an imitation of a document and ascribing it to a third party.

  5. Filling a blank paper containing a signature, a seal, or a fingerprint, without the approval of the person to whom the signature, seal, or fingerprint belongs.

  6. False impersonation or changing the identity in a document intended for such purpose.

  7. Alteration of the truth in a document intended as a proof, immediately upon preparation.”

Further, Article 14 of the Federal Decree-Law No. 34 of 2021 Concerning the Fight Against Rumors and Cybercrime states the punishment for forging an electronic document as follows.

“1. Everyone forges an electronic document of the federal or local government, or the public federal or local authorities or institutions shall be sentenced to provisional imprisonment and to pay a fine of not less than (150,000) one hundred fifty thousand Dirhams and not more than (750,000) seven hundred fifty thousand Dirhams.

2. If the forgery is committed in documents of a body other than the bodies described in Clause (1) hereof, the penalty shall be detention and/or payment of a fine of not less than (100,000) one hundred thousand Dirhams and not more than (300,000) three hundred thousand Dirhams.

3. Everyone who uses the forged electronic document, while informed of its forgery, shall be sentenced to the same penalty established for the crime of forgery.”

In a crime of forgery, the intention to commit forgery or to deceive is most important and, in the absence of such intent, the crime may not be constituted. In the absence of actual intent, the crime may not be proven. An expert legal opinion must be obtained to ensure that your rights are protected and that you obtain the most accurate legal advice as per the unique circumstances of your case.

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