All about Property Disputes In UAE
There are four high courts in UAE: the Federal Supreme Court, the Abu Dhabi Cassation Court, the Dubai Cassation Court and the Ras Al Khaimah Cassation Court. Legal law structure in UAE is divided into two types: Federal and Local. The Federal system is established to deal with civil and criminal cases within UAE.
This Federal court system applies in the emirates of Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain and Fuijarah. Each of these emirates has its own Federal courthouse which houses the court of first hearing and appeal court. The Federal Supreme Court which is located in Abu Dhabi hears all appeals from the appeal courts of the emirates which fall within the jurisdiction of the federal court system.
The four high courts mentioned above represent the final stage of the appeals process and rule only on matters of law.
However, this federal structure does not apply to Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah as they maintain their own independent judicial systems. Each of these emirates has its own local courts with first instance, appeal and cassation divisions that hear cases within their jurisdiction. Consequently. In view of this framework, understanding the jurisdiction of the UAE Federal and Local Courts to hear disputes is essential prior to the filing of a claim by a potential litigant.
When it comes to property disputes in UAE, the said party cannot choose or appeal to a court other than the the court which has original jurisdiction over the said location. This policy cannot be changed or customized under any circumstance, as it is a matter of public policy.
In personal real estate scenario, competence lies with the court within the jurisdiction of which the real estate or the address of the said member is located.
Apart from the Dubai International Financial Centre free zone which is also called as DIFC, the free zones in Dubai do not have separate jurisdiction and are subject to the jurisdiction of the regular Dubai Courts. For example: If a dispute has already been submitted in a court, it can still be resolved in the DIFC Courts, only if both parties agree to it. In simpler words, the said parties, regardless of their location, are free to “opt in” to the jurisdiction of the DIFC Courts and select it as the forum to hear and rule on their dispute. And suppose, where the parties do not agree or express it in writing, the DIFC Courts still maintain exclusive jurisdiction in relation to civil and commercial cases falling within one of the (now) five jurisdictional gateways set out in Article 5A(1) of the New Law.
Below are the new established laws:
(a) civil or commercial claims and actions to which the DIFC or any DIFC Body, DIFC Establishment or Licensed DIFC Establishment is a party;
(b) civil or commercial claims and actions arising out of or relating to a contract or promised contract, whether partly or wholly concluded, finalized or performed within the DIFC or that will be performed or is supposed to be performed within the DIFC pursuant to express or implied terms stipulated in the contract;
(c) civil or commercial claims and actions arising out of or relating to any incident or transaction which has been wholly or partly performed within the DIFC and is related to DIFC activities;
(d) appeals against decisions or procedures made by DIFC Bodies where DIFC Laws and DIFC Regulations permit such appeals; or
(e) any claim or action over which the DIFC Courts have jurisdiction in accordance with DIFC Laws and DIFC Regulations.
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