Pursuant to the amendments introduced by Cabinet Resolution No. 57 of 2018 in the UAE Civil Procedure Law, the Ministry of Justice has announced further proposals which were approved by the Cabinet under Resolution No. 33 of 2020 (the “Resolution”) on 30 April 2020. This Resolution amends certain previous amendments introduced by Cabinet Resolution No. 57 of 2018. The following article highlights the changes impacting civil litigation in the UAE.
Service of summons
The Resolution has eliminated the personal ability of the litigant or their attorney to serve the summons through modern technology. Serving of summons by the parties or attorneys through email, text message or audio and video call will no longer exist.
The Resolution refers to service of summons through a private process server. This process server ensures that modern technology is used to serve the summons and contact details of parties. This transition is developing as the law on implementation of process server is yet to be rolled out.
The Resolution solely allows the courts and other process servers to undertake the service of summons through smart applications such as WhatsApp along with email, text message, audio and video calls etc.
Regardless of which office the dispute is in connection with, the Resolution allows the service of summons to be served at the main officer or branch office. Copy of the Summons can now be affixed at the premises of the parties without a requirement of order from court.
Additional powers to Case Management Office (“CMO”)
The Resolution gives additional power to supervisory judges who manage the CMO to initiate settlement between the parties and apply sanctions on the parties.
Any objections as to whether a dispute is to be continued or dismissed for reasons (other than public policy) as well as challenging a suit for jurisdiction issues will now have to be heard by CMO.
Additional powers to Summary Court and amendments to summary proceeding
The Resolution as amended allows the Summary Court to hear civil, commercial and labour claims of not more than AED 500,000 and lawsuits on the authenticity of the signatures to be disposed in one hearing.
In addition to the above, the Summary Court can now hear disputes of up to AED 10 million. Any judgment of the Summary Court in disputes below AED 50,000 will be final with no option of appeal.
Changes to Payment Order process
The Resolution has further increased the scope of Payment Orders by allowing creditor to include damages, along with the outstanding debt and interest. Further, the Resolution gives power to creditors to file for a Payment Order where the contract was concluded taking away the jurisdictional restriction to file where the debtor is recides.
In addition to the above, a Payment Order for a value less than AED 50,000 is not appealable. If the Payment Order is above AED 50,000 then it can be appealed before the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal cannot return the matter to the Court of First Instance and has to decide on the merits of the appeal to announce the judgment.
Travel ban by the court
The Resolution clarifies the instances on which a Court can award a travel ban, namely:
There should be an unconditional debt for a specified amount for a value not less than AED 10,000; and
If the court is convinced that the debtor might flee the country.
Court will require the applicant to submit a guarantee to the court to cover the damage in case the travel ban application is found unjust against the debtor.
The Resolution requires the court to issue its final judgement within 100 days once matter has been referred from CMO. The interval between hearings has been limited to no more than two weeks. Further, adjournment of hearings can only be requested for urgent reasons such as death, loss of capacity, or if a criminal action is filed which relates to the merits of the dispute. It will be noteworthy to look at how well the court follows this timeline.
Powers of Enforcement Judges
The Resolution empowers the Enforcement Judges to grant permission for installment plans up to 3 years instead of 1 year to fulfill a debt.
Power of Attorney
The Resolution now requires that if a company is represented by an individual who is not an advocate, then he/she should be an Emirati having law degree and employed with the company for a period not less than one year. Further, it adds that an individual who represents a company with a power of attorney should attest it from Notary Public.