04 May 2017

A brief look at the Dubai initiative for the new one day misdemeanor court and New Dubai Law No. 1 of 2017 for Criminal Orders [judgments]

Authored by: Walid Azzam

In brief:

•    Looking at the use and consequences of the new one-day misdemeanor court for low-value cheque-based crimes, based at police stations.
•    Considering the new Dubai Law on Criminal Orders that allows public prosecutors to directly issue judgments on defendants by imposing a fine, without needing to refer the matter to the relevant court.

The Emirate of Dubai has recently launched two new regulations in an attempt to make the criminal legal system more efficient and to expedite smaller cases. Those are:- 

1)    The Dubai initiative for one day misdemeanor court proceedings.

2)    Dubai Law No. 1 of 2017 on Criminal Orders [judgments].

1)  The Dubai initiative for one day misdemeanor court proceedings.

In March 2017, Dubai adopted a new initiative for one day court proceedings, which is a new process whereby some of the police stations would have presiding judges to review and apply rules on specific minor cases in just one day. 

While this is currently being implemented in the Barsha and Muraqabat police stations, we understand that the aim is to expand this initiative to other police stations.  

The initiative is aimed toward the review of simple cases and to ruling on them in an expedited matter (i.e. within one day) which should help reduce the backlog of  cases in the courts, and make the costs of dealing with smaller cases more affordable.

Among the types of cases that are currently being reviewed are the following:- 

  • Issuing a cheque in bad faith.
  • Endorsing a cheque in bad faith.

Additional cases that are dealt with, include drinking alcohol without a licence, driving while under the influence, being an unlicensed street vendor, street begging and the non-payment of outstanding fees. 

The defendants can face a fine or imprisonment, but they are still able to file an appeal. If the defendants deny the charges or request a lawyer then the case can take longer than a day.    

The initiative is currently being reviewed and assessed with the aim of further refining and improving it. 

It appears that the primary purpose of such an initiative in relation to cheque cases is to handle cases for relatively small sums, where the defendants have admitted liability.

It remains to be seen if there are specific amounts for cheques that will render the matter subject to such a summary review, or  whether all cheques will fall within that new initiative.

2) Dubai Law No. 1 of 2017 on Criminal Orders [judgments].

Similarly to the above initiative, Dubai Law No. 1 of 2017 addresses the ability of Public Prosecutors to issue “Criminal orders” [judgments]. 

The law was issued on 30 January 2017, published on 20 February 2017 and comes into effect 3 months after publication.

The law provides public prosecutors with the ability to directly issue judgments on defendants by imposing a fine, without needing to refer the matter to the relevant court. 

Article 2 of the law clarifies that it applies to misdemeanors that are punishable only by a fine, or by a fine or incarceration. 

Article 4 of the law states that that the public prosecutor in those cases is entitled to issue the “Criminal Order” [judgment] against a defendant who is proven to have committed the crime, subject to the fact that the fine imposed not exceeding 50% of the amount prescribed in the relevant law.  

The defendant is then entitled to object within 7 days of the date of the “Criminal Order” [judgment], upon which the public prosecutor’s order shall be considered as null and void and the matter shall be referred to the relevant court. 

The “Criminal Order” [judgment] becomes final and binding upon the expiration of the objection period or upon the payment of the fine. 

Conclusion

It would appear that the obvious benefit of adopting such new systems is providing a fast track process that resolves minor cases that  may not justify  lengthy waiting times and proceedings. 

This system should reduce the load of the regular courts, thus enhancing the efficiently of the entire system

 
 

This article, including any advice, commentary or recommendation herein, is provided on a complimentary basis without consideration of any specific objectives, circumstances or facts. It reflects the views of the writer which may, in some cases, differ from those of the firm, especially in the developing jurisdiction of the UAE.