|22 March, 2019

Emirati lawyers seek a change in the new civil law regulation

Some lawyers see that the regulation, in some of its clauses, affects their interests and business.

Image used for illustrative purpose. Close-Up Of Gavel And Hammer On Desk

Image used for illustrative purpose. Close-Up Of Gavel And Hammer On Desk

Getty Images/Audtakorn Sutarmjam / EyeEm

UAE - Many Emirati lawyers have expressed concerns over an article of the newly-introduced regulations to UAE Civil Procedures Law, citing that this would cause them losses due to unfair competition.

Some lawyers see that the regulation, in some of its clauses, affects their interests and business. The objection is specifically to article 26, which stipulates that a private corporation can assign one of its employees to be present on their behalf in the court or at the case registration/management section.

Emirati legal professionals have taken to Twitter, deeming the article as unconstitutional and uncompliant with the law that organises the practice of this profession. Many lawyers told Khaleej Times that they would be filing lawsuits and petitions demanding the annulment of the article in the regulation which affects their business and interests, as they claim.


Emirati lawyer Dr Habib Al Mulla asserted that the recent amendment is not constitutional. "A law, which is issued from the President, can only be amended by another law and not by a regulation.

"Lawsuits will be filed before the administrative court demanding a reconsideration of the new regulation in general and cancellation of the article in particular," Dr Al Mulla told Khaleej Times.

According to him, the recent change would affect to a great extent the business of the small and emerging advocacy and legal consultancy firms as they would lose a significant chunk of their clients.

Dr Al Mulla believes that the 'employee' - as Article 26 stipulates - who would show up in front of the judge on behalf of a private corporate entity in civil and commercial lawsuits, won't be familiar with the routine procedures and the professional technicalities, which the lawyers have become well aware of, thanks to long years of practice. A PRO or a manager, who would represent a company in the court, would not take proper care of the client's rights as much and as delicately and professionally as a lawyer would do. They would also waste the judge's time. It would stir the market on so many levels, according to Dr Al Mulla.

For the legal services being made available by the Dubai Courts external branches like Al Adheed, Dr Al Mulla cited a major problem. "There is no legal framework or legal criteria that organise the work mechanism at such offices. There would definitely be a conflict of interests if their services are sought by rival parties of one case.

"Our profession is essentially about protecting the confidentiality of the case files and respecting the privacy of our clients' matters. However, a typist at those branches, whose only concern would be to register and manage cases, might not well regard those main principles when he/she is busy processing the flow of transactions. The specific details that could affect the client's best interests would be left ignored."

Emirati lawyer Dr Hawra Moosa, who is a specialist in criminal law, told Khaleej Times that some lawyers would file lawsuits requesting that article 26 be nullified. "Under the new order, since a company can send any of its staff to represent it at the court, the private businesses would opt not to renew their contracts with law firms.

"We as lawyers have huge financial costs, including rent, office necessities and salaries. If the regulation continues as such, more than half of the legal consultancy offices will be closed."

As for Al Adheed and On Time offices that offer legal services under the Dubai Courts umbrella, she said: "They say that they target the workers, the low-income categories and the people who can't afford a lawyer. However, any client can solicit their services for registering and managing cases, and there is no sorting out process. So there are no criteria for selection. It targets all possible clients.

"The on time offices register the case electronically in a matter of seconds. We can't even do that. They have their own facilities and special fees," she pointed out.

Emirati lawyer Ahmed Al Amiri said: "Many businesses and firms have contracts with legal advocacy offices. Under the new regulation, the companies can have a PRO or any staff member act on their behalf before the courts. So it is very likely many of those contracts won't be renewed. In the newly introduced modification, many businesses might not need the services of the Emirati lawyers."

For instance, Al Amiri elaborated, a corporation has a Dh1 million contract with a law firm for legal representation in courts. "After the new regulation, a PRO, who did not even study law, can replace the lawyer and that PRO can show up in person in courts and submit written legal arguments. That would affect the interests of the local lawyers," he elaborated.

Another major 'competition' that lawyers have to deal with is that of Al Adheed branches which offer legal services, pretty much the same provided by the lawyers, Al Amiri pointed out.


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