Lawyers Dubai really started their careers in Dubai when the Law of the Formation of the Courts in the Emirate of Dubai, was promulgated in 1992 by His Highness Sheikh Rashid Al Maktoum. Since then the judicial system has grown by leaps to keep pace with the growth of Dubai and the various needs for specialists in financial law, real estate law, criminal law and other areas as they become apparent.
1. The Judicial System
To maintain harmony between them the Emirates were given the constitutional right to opt for joining the Federal judicial system or to maintain their own independent system. Except for Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah who maintain their own judicial systems, the other Emirates have joined the Federal system.
The Federal UAE courts, similar to the courts in most of the countries in the Area, are organized to form two main divisions civil and criminal and are also generally divided into three stages of litigation namely:
- courts of First Instance
- Appeal and the
- Federal Supreme Court (colloquially referred to as Court of Cassation).
The jurisdiction of the third division, namely the Shariah courts, which initially was to review matters of personal status, was expanded in certain Emirates such as Abu Dhabi to include serious criminal cases, labor and other commercial matters.
Important cases with a security aspect are referred to special courts.
Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah initially organized their courts on two stages later expanded in Dubai by the establishment of the Dubai Court of Cassation.
2. The Judiciary
Although the trend in recent years has been to appoint an increasing number of UAE national graduates as judges to the different divisions of the Federal courts by the Ministry of Justice, there are still a few senior expatriate Arab judges serving especially in the higher courts.
Judges who serve in the courts of the other Emirates are appointed by Emiri Decrees.
3. The Legal Profession
Practicing lawyers Dubai and in other Emirates have to be licensed to practice law in the Federal courts by the Ministry of Justice and in the Emiri Diwan in the other Emirates. Lawyers Dubai and for the other Emirates must be graduates of a recognised law/Shariah college. Although in the past expatriate Arab lawyers were licensed to practice at the Federal courts and the other Emirates, the general trend is to restrict such practice to qualified UAE nationals. Expatriates were given a period during which they had to transfer their practice to a national lawyer or to lawyers Dubai who are UAE nationals.
UK, US and European law firms are only allowed to practice as legal consultants, but are not allowed to plead cases in the courts.
It is expected that courts all over the country will be unified by a new 'e-justice' system, which should be in place by the end of 2009.
It will allow lawyers Dubai and other lawyers and their clients to have access to cases they are involved in whether they are in federal or local courts and prevent different courts arriving at opposing rulings on the same legal point. The move towards an electronically integrated national justice system is part of a two-year plan to overhaul the courts.
With full automation in federal and local courts, lawyers Dubai and other lawyers and clients could submit cases electronically. They would be registered in the computer system and judges would set dates for hearings and inform the parties online. Lawyers and clients would have access to the system but there would be a fee for its use.
5. Future plans
Apart from encouraging the appointment of more Emirati women as judges a Judicial City would be established in Dubai with special courts to speed up the legal process, while similar courts would be set up elsewhere. There is also understanding of the fact that the courts will need to deal with different new issues involving accelerated developments in technology and genetics.
A model of the Judicial complex has been approved at a location close to Emirates Road. It will contain more than four buildings for the Courts, Public Prosecution, Judicial Institute, auditorium and other facilities.
6. Specialized Courts
The existing three specialized courts are for:
- personal status matters,
- labor and
- civil courts
The new specialized courts will be for:
- commercial and
- real estate cases.
The Dubai International Financial Center already has its own judiciary based on best of breed practices adopted from across the world and housed with its own approved lawyers Dubai.
This step is expected to make management of cases focused, faster and more professional. It aims to develop a better understanding of the specific areas and their relevant issues.
7. It is important to keep in mind that Dubai has more than 100 nationalities resident in a 2007 population of 1.5 mn people, who are used to the way the judiciaries work in their home countries. Well Dubai is different. Fortunately, lawyers Dubai also come form many different nationalities even though they are 'legal consultants' only.
Not being constrained by past practices, and recognizing the importance of dispensing impartial justice that is not based on Shariah Law, the Ruler of Dubai has, with his characteristic wisdom decided to go full step ahead by adopting the best in the world. This will necessarily mean that all nationalities will be confronted with some unfamiliar methods and procedures. But this is a very positive development where it was difficult even to find a safe to keep valuables 12 years ago, and where people even today leave their front doors unlocked!
Now that the world is investing hundreds of billions of Dollars in this small Emirate, they are gearing up to make us secure.