Dubai courts started implementing new amendments to the Commercial Transactions Law that decriminalise issuing cheques without sufficient funds.

As per federal law 14 of 2020, that was updated in October 2020, cheque beneficiaries or bearers don’t need to file criminal or civil cases for non-payment of the cheque.

They can directly approach the court's execution Judge to order payment of the cheque’s value or what is remaining of it.

Banks are also obliged to make partial payments by releasing any available funds in the bank account for the benefit of the cheque bearer unless the beneficiary disagrees.

But in cases where people deliberately issue cheques to con others out of money, will still be criminalised.

“The criminalisation has been limited to cases of fraud in issuing a cheque or in cases where there were sufficient funds but were withdrawn by the issuer,” said Judge Khalid Almansouri, Chief Judge of Enforcement Court at Dubai Courts.

He said criminalisation was replaced with faster and easier procedures that give beneficiaries their rights and protect them.

“This is in line with the initiatives and strategic plans of Dubai to support a sustainable economy and achieve faster more accurate justice that represent the vision of Dubai Courts of becoming distinct courts globally.”

In 2017, Dubai’s attorney general, Essam Al Humaidan moved cases of bounced cheques - among a range of other minor offences - outside of courts.

The decision - known as the Penal Order - authorised Dubai prosecutors to issue fines against offenders instead of referring them to the courts.

Fines against bounced cheques up to Dh50,000 are Dh2,000, while those who bounce cheques of between Dh50,000 and Dh100,000 were fined Dh5,000, and a Dh10,000 fine for bounced cheques between Dh100,000 and Dh200,000.

Last year, 16,289 cases were settled out of Dubai court under the Penal Order, which involved Dh48.1 million ($13.1m) in fines.

Bounced cheques of about 13,517 cases, accounted for 83 per cent of all cases that were settled without having to go to court.

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