The Judicial System
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 Khaima
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 organised to form two
main divisions civil and criminal and are also generally divided
to 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, labour and other commercial matters. Important
cases with a security aspect are referred to special courts.
and Ras Al Khaima initially organised their courts on two stages
later expanded in Dubai by the establishment of the Dubai Court
the trend began in recent years, to appoint an increasing number
of judges, who are UAE Nationals, to the different divisions
of the Federal courts by the Ministry of Justice from amongst graduates
of recognised law/Shariah colleges, is continuing, there are still
a few senior expatriate Arab judges serving especially in the higher
who serve in the courts of the other Emirates are appointed by Emiri
The Legal Profession
lawyers 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 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.
US and European law firms are only allowed to practice as legal
consultants, but are not allowed to plead cases in the courts.
Laws Regulating Litigation
regulating Appeals to the Federal Supreme Court No. 17 of 1978.
Federal Law Regulating the Legal Profession
No. 23 of 1991.
Federal Law of Evidence in Civil and Commercial
Transactions No. 10 of 1992.
Civil Procedures Law No. 11 of 1992 which
the Emirate of Dubai decreed to apply in the Dubai Courts.