The civil procedure in the UAE is governed by the Federal Law No 11 of 1992 (Civil Procedure Code) as amended, along with the Cabinet Decisions (including Cabinet Decisions 57 of 2018 and 33 of 2020), and resolutions, etc. issued from time to time. The Civil Procedure Code regulates the procedure for litigation in civil, commercial, administrative, labour and personal status matters. It also governs the procedure of appeals and execution of judgments.
The court system in UAE is hierarchal and operates both at the federal level and a local level.
Sharjah, Ajman, Fujairah and Umm Al Quwain are part of the federal judicial system whereas Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Ras Al-Khaimah have their own local judicial systems.
At both federal and local level, the judicial system is divided into the courts of first instance and the court of appeal. At the local level, the court of appeal is followed by the court of cassation which is the highest court in the relevant Emirate. At the federal level, the appeals court is followed by the Federal Supreme Court, which is the highest court in the federal judiciary system.
Once court proceedings are initiated by filing a statement of claim (along with the relevant details such as names and addresses of the parties and details of the claim), a hearing date is pronounced with the defendant required to submit a memorandum of defense.
Once the proceedings have been completed, the judge will pronounce its judgement setting out the reasons for its judgement.
Enforcement of the Judgement
Upon the final judgement being pronounced, execution proceedings are required to be initiated by the judgement creditor.
According to Article 97 of the Cabinet Decision 57 of 2018, execution is preceded by service of writ of execution. A notice to pay the debt will be issued to the debtor, who will have 15 days from the date of the notification to make payments.
If the execution is based upon evacuation of a property or by delivery of a movable or real estate, these funds shall be specified with the notice. Any date set for evacuation or delivery will also need to be mentioned in the notice issued to the debtor.
Provisional Seizure & Other Actions
If the judgment creditor believes, based on serious evidence, that the debtor will flee or smuggle or conceal his funds, leading to loss of creditor’s guarantee of right to receive funds, the creditor may request the court to provisionally seize property and assets of the debtor under Article 111 of the Cabinet Decision 57 of 2018. The court may conduct necessary investigations, request statements, evidence and affidavits before accepting the application for seizure.
In addition to provisionally seizing the assets of the debtors, the creditor may, in accordance with the Cabinet Decision 57 of 2018, as part of the enforcement proceedings, request the court to impose: (a) attachment/seizure of movables or debts of debtor in hands of a third party; (b) attachment of stocks, bonds, revenue and shares; (c) attachment and sale of real estate; and (d) bankruptcy proceedings.
The judge also has the right to order the imprisonment of the debtor under Article 183 of the Cabinet Decision. The debtor may also be placed under a travel ban under Article 188 of the Cabinet Decision.
The execution proceedings are a key step in concluding the lawsuit filed in the courts in the UAE. It is crucial to ensure that any judgment received by a person is executed in accordance with the rules and regulations and within the time frame as well.