Dubai Legal System. Not Written by Me

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DUBAI’S LEGAL SYSTEM
CREATING A LEGAL AND
REGULATORY FRAMEWORK
FOR A MODERN SOCIETY

Andrew Tarbuck & Chris Lester

contents

Published by Motivate Publishing
Dubai: PO Box 2331, Dubai, UAE
Tel: (+971 4) 282 4060, fax: (+971 4) 282 7898
e-mail: books@motivate.ae www.booksarabia.com
Office 508, Building No 8, Dubai Media City, Dubai, UAE
Tel: (+971 4) 390 3550, fax: (+971 4) 390 4845

Dubai’s legal system

5

Abu Dhabi: PO Box 43072, Abu Dhabi, UAE
Tel: (+971 2) 677 2005, fax: (+971 2) 677 0124

The UAE federal constitution

7

The foundations of the legal system

7

The court system

8

Free zones

9

London: Acre House, 11/15 William Road, London NW1 3ER
e-mail: motivateuk@motivate.ae
Directors:

Obaid Humaid Al Tayer
Ian Fairservice

Editors:
Senior Designer:
Designer:

Moushumi Nandy
Simona Cassano
Cithadel Francisco
Charlie Banalo

General Manager Books:
Publishing Coordinator:

Jonathan Griffiths
Zelda Pinto

The DIFC

11

Structuring and licensing for international

(Andrew Tarbuck is a partner and Chris Lester is
counsel at international law firm Latham & Watkins LLP, www.lw.com) All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any material form (including photocopying or storing in any medium by electronic means) without the written permission of the copyright holders. Application for the copyright holders’ written permission to reproduce any part of this publication should be addressed to the publishers. In accordance with the International Copyright Act 1956 and the UAE Federal Law No. (7) of 2002, Concerning Copyrights and Neighboring Rights, any person acting in contravention of this will be liable to criminal prosecution and civil claims for damages.

Printed by Emirates Printing Press, Dubai, UAE

14

Corporate governance
© Motivate Publishing and text © Andrew Tarbuck and Chris Lester 2009

13

Tax

Design by Pradnya Pandit-Aras

businesses wishing to do business in Dubai

15

Enforcement of laws

15

Legal representation

16

Concluding remarks

16

Dubai’s Legal System
In this uncertain world of globalisation and emerging markets, Dubai’s economic and cultural growth is underpinned by
a legal and regulatory framework, which has developed
sufficiently to encourage significant local and international enterprise in Dubai and is continuing to develop. A recurring theme when deciding where to do business is the suitability
of the legal and regulatory framework in the particular local jurisdiction. The willingness of international businesses to set up and operate in Dubai, and the success of local Dubai
businesses, is clear testament to Dubai’s robust and dynamic legal and regulatory framework.

HOW DUBAI WORKS

4

5

!

The UAE federal constitution

The United Arab Emirates (the UAE) is a federation of seven
emirates comprising Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Fujairah, Ras
Al Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm Al Quwain and was formed
in 1971. The UAE federal constitution provides for an
allocation of powers between the federal government and the
government of each emirate. Dubai is subject to the federal
law of the UAE but retains the right to administer its own
internal affairs and enjoys certain other exclusive rights.

!

The foundations of the legal system

Dubai’s legal system is founded upon civil law principles (most heavily influenced by Egyptian law) and Islamic Shari’a law, the latter constituting the guiding principle and source of law. In Dubai and other civil law jurisdictions, legislation tends to be formulated into a number of major codes providing

for general principles of law with a significant amount of
subsidiary legislation. The influx of regional and international commercial enterprises to Dubai and the UAE over the
last 30 years has resulted in an expanding and increasingly
comprehensive body of federal legislation being established
in the form of federal codes...
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