criminal law

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June 11, 2017

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What Would Sentence Be for Someone Inhaling Glue in the UAE? - UAE Criminal Law Publication

Question: I have an Asian friend who came to Dubai on a visitor's visa but he was arrested for inhaling glue. What would the sentence be for such an offence?

Answer: Your friend could be sentenced to between one and three years in prison, per articles 40 and 41 of Federal Law 14 of 1995 and its amendments. However, it needs to be established that he inhaled the substance within the UAE's jurisdiction. It should be expected that the judge would add permanent deportation to any sentence.

UPDATE:

The Federal Law No 14 of 1995 on combating narcotics and intoxicants has been repealed and replaced by the Federal Decree Law No 30 of 2021 on Combating Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances, issued on 16 September 2021 and came into force as of 2 January 2022. The new law has introduced many changes to the previous law on combating narcotics, including giving courts the discretionary power to make orders related to the deportation of a foreigner under Article 75 of the new law.

Question: The owner of the company I've been working at for three years authorised me to sign bank cheques for suppliers as he was not in the UAE. However, when the cheques were cashed, they bounced, as our client did not pay us on time so we had insufficient funds. I want to know if the suppliers can take legal action against me personally.

Answer: You can be held liable under UAE law as it does not distinguish between individuals and businesses when it comes to bounced cheques. Following article 401 of the Federal Law 3 of 1987, "detention or a fine shall be imposed upon anyone who, in bad faith, gives a draft (cheque) without a sufficient and drawable balance or who, after giving a cheque, withdraws all or part of the balance, making the balance insufficient for settlement of the cheque, or if he orders a drawee not to cash a cheque or makes or signs the cheque in a manner that prevents it from being cashed". Unfortunately, in addition to the above, you would still be liable jointly with your company in the commercial courts to pay the cheque value, as per article 606 of the Commercial Transaction Law.

UPDATE:

In 2020, the United Arab Emirates issued Federal Decree Number 14 of 2020 (Issued on 27 Sep 2020) which amended and added new articles to the UAE Commercial Transaction Law No. 18 of 1993 and the UAE Penal Code. The new changes have come into force from January 2022 onwards and one of the most significant changes introduced is the limited scope of criminalization for returned cheques on account of insufficient funds.

Narrowed Criminality: The new amendments bring in narrowed criminality in matters concerning cheques. The provision related to criminal sanctions for insufficiency of funds in the UAE Penal Code has been deleted, effectively meaning that there will be no criminal liability if the cheque has bounced because of insufficiency of funds. According to the new changes, only specified actions will invite criminal action, including but not limited to the following:

  • Intentionally falsifying cheques
  • Instances of fraud: This covers circumstances wherein the issuer instructs the respective bank, not the pay the cheque amount
  • Providing counterfeit cheques
  • Withdrawing the account balance before the date of the cheque encashment to prevent the cheque from being cleared.

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