United Arab Emirates: Looking For A Lawyer: Suing For Breach Of Trust

Accessibility to global trade, tax-free income, innumerable business opportunities and free trade environment is an optimal location for any business venture and UAE is one such example of such a business environment. However, even in such favourable region, industrialist practices dishonest behaviour in order to gain undue profits. Dubai Legal Consultants will hereby provide you with a brief overview of the most common offence in the UAE that is Breach of Trust.

UAE Legislative Framework

The Criminal Law of UAE, Federal Law Number 3 of 1987 governs fraud and breach of trust within UAE. Breach of trust is a common scenario where a trusted employee or a business partner takes advantage of their position to detriment the employee or another partner. Article 404 of the Criminal Law criminalizes breach of trust as follows:

"Shall face penalty by way of detention or a fine, whoever embezzles, uses amounts, bills or any movable property to the prejudice of the owner  whenever the concerned movable property is handed over to him through deposit, lease, pledge, loan for consumption or by way of proxy.

In the application of this provision shall be considered as a proxy, the joint owner of the property, the officious on the property of the interested owner and whoever received something to be used in a specific matter for the benefit of its owner or of others."

It is believed that the joint owners of the immovable property are held by them in trust and any violation of this provision would allow the innocent business partner or the employer to seek adequate justice from the criminal court. However, the penalty by way of imprisonment or fine shall be at the discretion of the court depending upon the intensity of the offence and its categorization. Courts are liberalized to issue any penalty in order to deter residents from committing such offence. Nevertheless, breach of trust is also referred to as misdemeanour for which a fine of maximum AED 30,000 shall be imposed along with imprisonment of a maximum term of 3 years.

In addition, the term fraud is often confused with breach of trust and used interchangeably. Although both the terms depict the dishonesty of the accused, however, the law differs both as under Article 399 of the law states the circumstances which can be considered as fraud as follows:

"Shall be sentenced to imprisonment or to a fine, whoever succeeds in appropriating, for him or for others, movable property, a deed or a signature thereon, cancellation, destruction or amendment thereof through deceitful means or use of false name or capacity, whenever this leads to deceit the victim and have him give away shall be sentenced to the same penalty, whoever disposes of an immovable or movable property being aware that it is not his property, that he is not entitled to dispose of it or disposes of it knowing that he previously disposed of, or contracted, it whenever such act of disposition causes prejudice to others.

Should the object of the crime be the property or a deed belonging to the State or tone of the bodies mentioned in Article (5, this shall constitute an aggravating circumstance.

An attempt shall be sanctioned by detention for a term not exceeding two years or a fine not in excess of twenty thousand Dirham.

When condemning the recidivist to detention for a period of one year or more, the court may order putting him under control for a maximum period of two years provided it does not exceed the period of the adjudicated penalty."

New Technology New Punishment

In the aforementioned scenarios, if in any event the accused has used an electronic device, he can be convicted under UAE Cybercrime Law, Federal Law Number 5 of 2012. The Cybercrime Law imposes stricter punishment for similar offences as compared to the Penal Code. A criminal complaint can be registered if:

  • Intentionally using a forged document;
  • Forging a document through electronic means;
  • Using technological means to obtain property illegally;
  • Unlawful ways of accessing bank accounts electronically;
  • Unauthorized usage of the electronic system.

Some common instances of breach of trust involve unauthorized access of client details, accounting records or banking details of the employer to frequently transfer money. Nevertheless, the civil law system of UAE also allows the victims to initiate civil proceedings to seek compensation for the damages incurred. The claimant can run both the cases simultaneously or can register a criminal complaint and post receiving favourable judgment can proceed with the civil case to obtain adequate damages.

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.

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