United Arab Emirates: Overview Of The Laws In Territorial Jurisdiction

Last Updated: 1 May 2018
Article by STA Law Firm
Most Read Contributor in United Arab Emirates, July 2019

THE REACH OF TERRITORIAL JURISDICTION

PART I

Introduction

The UAE follows Civil Law in their legal system and the primary laws governing the jurisdiction of courts is regulated by Federal Law Number 11 of 1992 the Civil Procedural Law (the Civil Procedures Law) and Federal Law Number 35 of 1992 regarding the Criminal Procedural Law (the Criminal Procedure Law).

The court's jurisdiction means that the courts' competency to consider any dispute may be submitted to it. Thus, the court that has no jurisdiction will not be competent to decide on a specific dispute.  The jurisdiction of a court is divided into four (4) major parts as follows:

The First Part

The international jurisdiction of the courts, for which the law shows when the courts shall have jurisdiction to consider the lawsuits filed against the foreigner that has not any known domicile. Also, these courts shall have jurisdiction to consider that don't fall within their jurisdiction, but they are required as per the proper administration of justice. Also, these courts shall have jurisdiction to consider the summary and provisional actions that are connected with an execution inside the territories of the state even if these courts have no jurisdiction to consider the original lawsuit.

The Second Part

The qualitative jurisdiction in which the law shows distribution of jurisdiction among the partial departments and the plenary departments according to the type of the case submitted to the court, the distribution of the jurisdiction between the ordinary courts and summary courts, as well as the distribution of the jurisdiction on the different stages of litigation (Court of First Instance, Court of Appeal, and Court of Cassation)

The Third Part

The value jurisdiction in which the law determines the jurisdiction among the partial deportments and plenary departments according to the value of the case.

The Fourth Part

The local or territorial jurisdiction of the courts which is the subject matter of this article means the distribution of the jurisdiction on the state courts from the same type and degree within the limits of its jurisdiction area. And the territorial jurisdiction of the courts shall be determined according to the domicile of the defendant or the place of the disputed property or the choice of the plaintiff in some personal status cases.

The Territorial Jurisdiction

The general rule put by the federal law in connection with the territorial jurisdiction of the state courts, that the jurisdiction shall be for the court whose jurisdiction area includes the domicile of the defendant. The law also affirms the same as under Article 31 (1) of the Civil Procedure Law it is mentioned that "the jurisdiction shall be for the court whose jurisdiction area includes the domicile of the defendant unless the law decided otherwise. And if the defendant has no domicile inside the country, the jurisdiction shall be for the court whose jurisdiction includes his residence address or work address."

Ergo, the territorial jurisdiction, according to the aforesaid Article, shall be granted to the courts whose jurisdiction area includes the domicile of the defendant, namely the permanent and continued residence of the defendant. And the word "domicile" means the home i.e. the notification shall be forwarded to the place in which he lives.

In cases where the defendant does not have a domicile, the jurisdiction shall be granted to the court whose jurisdiction area includes his residence address contrary to the domicile. As the man may live in a palace for a limited period then he left it to be without a domicile. Also, it is allowed to file the lawsuit before the court whose jurisdiction area includes the work address of the defendant. And the plaintiff shall have the right to file the lawsuit to the court whose jurisdiction area includes the residence address or the work address of the defendant, as both of them shall be valid in case there was not any determined and known domicile of the defendant. 

Exceptions to the General Rule

The rule mentioned above includes several exceptions, and these exceptions shall be stemmed either from the conditions of the plaintiff or the type and subject matter of this case.

Therefore the exceptions with regards to the conditions of the plaintiff are as follows:

  1. The court which within its jurisdiction area the damage has occurred shall have territorial jurisdiction to consider the lawsuits relating to compensation either this damage occurred to the properties or the persons. Thus, the plaintiff in the lawsuits relating to compensation may file its lawsuit either before the court whose jurisdiction area includes the domicile of the defendant or the court which within its jurisdiction area the damage has occurred.
  2. The law has permitted in the commercial disputes that the court which the parties have agreed on its jurisdiction area, shall have the territorial jurisdiction to consider these disputes or the court which this agreement was executed either in whole or in part within its jurisdiction area or the court which the agreement should be executed within its jurisdiction area. Thus, the plaintiff shall have the right to file its lawsuit either before the court whose jurisdiction area includes the domicile of the defendant or the court at which the agreement (subject of lawsuit) was concluded or it was executed in whole or in part or the court in which the agreement should be executed in the commercial disputes.
  3. In case there was more than one defendant, the jurisdiction shall be for the court whose jurisdiction area includes the domicile of one of them, thus the plaintiff may choose the court whose jurisdiction area includes the domicile of one of the defendants to file its lawsuit before it.

The Civil or Criminal Procedures Law has also clarified the territorial jurisdiction of the courts according to the subject matter of the lawsuit, as it has made exceptions in the cases mentioned hereunder from the above-mentioned general rule as follows: 

  1. In the in-kind real estate lawsuits and the possessory lawsuits, the territorial jurisdiction shall be for the courts whose jurisdiction area includes the property or any part thereof. It is meant by the in-kind real estate lawsuits, any lawsuit in which the dispute is raised over one of the in-kind real estate rights such as the right of ownership as in the lawsuits relating to confirmation of ownership or the request for expropriation or recovering possession of the property. The reason, in this case, is the proper administration of justice. As it's better than the court considering this dispute to be near the property (the subject of dispute or lawsuit).
  2. In case of the personal real estate lawsuit, the plaintiff may file its lawsuit either before the court whose jurisdiction area includes the domicile of the defendant or the court whose jurisdiction area includes the disputed property. It is meant by the personal real estate lawsuit, any lawsuit in which the dispute is raised over personal rights related to the property like the lawsuits relating to terminating the sale contract of the property.
  3. In the lawsuits relating to moral rights (in case of companies and establishments), as the territorial jurisdiction shall be granted to the court whose jurisdiction area includes the head office of the company, except for the lawsuit relating to one of the branches of this company, as the jurisdiction shall be granted to the court whose jurisdiction area includes this branch.

The Bankruptcy Cases

In the lawsuits relating to bankruptcy, the jurisdiction shall be granted to the court whose jurisdiction area includes the shop (company or private establishment) of the bankrupt. In case the bankrupt owns several shops, the jurisdiction shall be granted to the court whose jurisdiction area includes the head office of the works of the bankrupt. The same shall be applied to the lawsuits relating to bankruptcy, as the jurisdiction shall be granted to the same court i.e. the court issued the judgment to declare the bankruptcy. But if the trader left trading, we shall return to the general rule relating to the territorial jurisdiction, as the court that will have the territorial jurisdiction is the court whose jurisdiction includes the domicile of the defendant.

  1. In the lawsuit relating to legacies, the jurisdiction shall be granted to the court whose jurisdiction area includes the last domicile of the deceased, the same shall be applied in case of lawsuits relating to custodianship and determining heirs.
  2. In the lawsuit relating to supply contracts or contracting agreements or wages of workers, craftsmen and employees, in this case, the plaintiff may file its lawsuit either before the court whose jurisdiction area includes the domicile of the defendant or the court which the agreement was made or executed within its jurisdiction area.
  3. In the lawsuit relating to claim for the insurance amount, the plaintiff may file its lawsuit either before the court whose jurisdiction area includes the domicile of the beneficiary or the court whose jurisdiction area includes the insured property.\
  4. In the summary lawsuits and temporary requests, the jurisdiction shall be granted to the court whose jurisdiction area includes the domicile of the defendant or the court which the action has been requested to be executed with its jurisdiction area. But if the matter is related to taking a summary action in connection with an execution of a foreign judgment, the jurisdiction shall be granted to the court which this judgment shall be executed within its jurisdiction area.\
  5. Concerning the contracts and obligations which it has been agreed to be executed within a specific domicile, the court that has territorial jurisdiction to consider these lawsuits and obligations is the court whose jurisdiction area includes that domicile.

Exceptions to the Law

The law has also made two more exceptions in the general rule which are not mentioned in the aforesaid circumstances, and these are as follows:

First case:

If the defendant has no domicile or residence address in the country or we were unable to determine the competent court according to the aforesaid cases, the jurisdiction shall be granted to the court whose jurisdiction area includes the domicile of the defendant or his residence address. And if the defendant has no domicile or residence address, the territorial jurisdiction in the lawsuit shall be granted to Abu Dhabi Court.

Second case:

In personal status cases (alimony, guardianship, seeing, dowry, trousseau, gifts, divorce, abdicative divorce, clearance, separation between spouses of any kinds), in this case the plaintiff may file its lawsuit either before the court whose jurisdiction area includes the domicile of the defendant of the defendant or the court includes his domicile.

What if?

A question is raised from the situations mentioned above is that whether the contracting parties entered into a contract or any transaction, agree to contradict with the rules of the territorial jurisdiction of the court according to the aforesaid regulation? The answer seems to be affirmative as the law has permitted the contracting parties netted into any contract to agree on the rules of the territorial jurisdiction of the state courts in special cases.

As under Article 31 (5) of the law of Civil ProceduresLaw, "it is stated that except the cases set forth in articles 32 and from 34 to 39, it is allowed to agree on the jurisdiction of a specific court to consider the dispute. In this case, the jurisdiction shall be granted to this court or to the court whose jurisdiction area includes the domicile or the residence address or the work address of the defendant."

According to the aforesaid provision, any contracting parties under any relation, over which a dispute could be raised, shall have the right to agree to determine the court that shall have the jurisdiction to consider the dispute that may be raised over this relation. For example, two parties may be entered into a sale contract in Dubai, as the execution and handover shall be done in Dubai, then the two parties shall agree that Abu Dhabi Courts of Fujairah Courts shall have the right to consider this dispute.

Whereas the law has not excluded from that only some cases stated by it exclusively, which are the in-kind real estate lawsuits, the lawsuits relating to legacies, the lawsuits relating to bankruptcy, the lawsuits relating to claim for the insurance  amount, the summary lawsuits and taking summary actions, the lawsuits relating to supplies, contracting, houses rents, wages of workers, craftsmen and employees, interlocutory requests connected with the lawsuits considered before the court actually. Any party in these relations or those lawsuits shall have the right to not abide by the above-mentioned rules of the territorial jurisdiction of the courts. In the next article, we will discuss the practical aspect of the territorial jurisdiction of local courts and how the court has interpreted the laws in different cases.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
 
In association with
Related Topics
 
Related Articles
 
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions