Authored by: Mohammad Khalil Zayan
Marketing and advertising have acquired a great importance in the UAE modern business world where intense competition and rapid changes in technology reformed the way local and multinational organizations conduct their business. Advertising is the way to inform and influence the general public to buy a product or service through visual or oral messages, and specifically, outdoor advertising drive up brand awareness and recognition while offering advertisers the opportunity to reach a captive audience with an exclusive, uncluttered message that will be viewed multiple times and has the ability to reach an entire region.
It is important to note that, in the Emirate of Dubai, no party has the right to place, display or use any type of outdoor advertising before obtaining the necessary permits from either the Road &Transport Authority or the concerned municipalities. All outdoor advertising mediums must meet the criteria specified in the Outdoor Advertising Guideline.
As a result of the continuous growth and development witnessed in the Emirate of Dubai, many companies in various industries have been interested in promoting and advertising their brands, products and services using the prestigious outdoor advertising mediums (billboards, hoardings, Uni-poles, etc.) placed or fixed on buildings, major highways, roads and intersections, malls, public places and other highly visible locations. As a result, several related agreements have been concluded.
In turn, with the expansion of this sector and the increase in demand in the market, disputes were bound to happen between the contracting parties. However, there were many variations in the type and names of the agreements used between the parties. Some contracts were called leases and others License Agreement of Location Usage or Investment Agreement of Advertising Location, and many other names. In case of disputes and legal issues between the two parties, they referred to the governing judiciary bodies to resolve their matters. As a result, some referred to the Rental Dispute Committee and others to the Civil Court, whichever entity has the jurisdiction over such cases.
In reference to those disputes, a case was filed before the Dubai Courts regarding a lease renewal of billboards located in a shopping mall in Dubai. The Court of First Instance had ruled that it did not have the jurisdiction to consider the case and the Rental Dispute Center in Dubai will be the regulatory entity that has the jurisdiction to consider such cases. Consequently, the defendant in this case was not content with this judgment; therefore, he appealed it before the Court of Appeal, which considered the case and ruled that the Court of First Instance have jurisdiction over it, and returned it back to the Court of First instance for consideration.
The Dubai Court of Cassation has clearly defined, the jurisdiction of each entity to eliminate any ambiguity when it comes to dispute resolution:
• Rental Dispute Center
• Dubai Court
The judgments of the Court of Cassation in Dubai were established based on the provisions of Article 101 of the Civil Transactions Law and Article 2 of Law Nº (26) of 2007, regulating the relationship between landlords and tenants in the Emirate of Dubai, which indicate – as it is established in the jurisdiction of this Court – that an outdoor advertising structure, installed on the ground and cannot be moved without it being damaged, shall be considered as a property, even if it is intended to remain for a short period of time; whereas an outdoor advertising structure that moves from one location to another or installed on the ground and can be removed and located elsewhere without it being damaged, shall not be considered a property but a moveable.
Since Article 1 of Decree Nº (2) of 1993 regarding the formation of a special judicial committee to settle disputes between landlords and tenants means that “a special Judicial Committee shall have exclusive jurisdiction to consider all disputes arising, of any nature whatsoever, between landlords and tenants” all disputes arising between landlords and tenants in connection with the leasing and renting of immovable property, which shall not be transferred to any other rental relationship, in accordance with the Explanatory Decree Nº (1) of 1999 regarding the jurisdiction of that Committee.
In addition, Article 101 of the Civil Transactions Law stipulates that “everything that is stable in its place is fixed and cannot be moved without damage or change of its structure, it shall be deemed as a property, except otherwise shall be deemed movable”.
Article 2 of Law Nº 26 of 2007 regarding the regulation of the relationship between landlords and tenants of property in the Emirate of Dubai in defining the property – in the application of the provisions of this law – as “immovables and related property and the tenant for the purposes of housing, business, craft, profession or any other legitimate activity”, indicates – as it is established in the jurisdiction of Dubai Court of Cassation – that the outdoor advertising structures installed on the ground and cannot be moved without it being damaged shall be considered as a property, even if it is intended to remain for a short period of time, whereas the outdoor advertising that moves from one location to another or installed on the ground and can be removed and located elsewhere without it being damaged, shall not be considered a property but a movable.
Therefore, The Rental Dispute Center shall have jurisdiction to consider the dispute, if it is proved that the outdoor advertising structure cannot be moved without damage.
The Dubai Court shall have jurisdiction to consider such case, if it is proved otherwise (the possibility of moving the billboards without it being damaged).
While, the disputes between tenants and landlords have increased in the current time, it is advisable to develop the rules and regulations governing the rent of outdoor advertising spaces, both in public and private places, in line with the advancement and development of the country and in compliance with the international regulations adopted.
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