Things you need to know about Civil Procedures Law (CPL)
A new law pertaining to civil procedure has been issued, Federal Law 42 of 2022, which consolidates and replaces Federal Law 11 of 1992 on civil procedure and its executive regulations issued under Cabinet Resolution No. 57 of 2018. The New Law will come into force on 2 January 2023.
Whilst the New Law does not overhaul civil procedure in the UAE, it introduces some significant changes. In particular, the New Law provides:
- Reforms to trial and proceedings
- An amendment to service outside the jurisdiction
- Confirmation of cheques as ‘enforceable instruments
- Changes in relation to appeals, including:
-The manner in which the Court of Appeal will deal with appeals before it
-Changes to the period for appeals to the Court of Cassation
1.Reforms to trial and proceedings:
Arabic has traditionally been the official language of UAE courts. Therefore, all submissions and evidence must be in Arabic. In lieu of this, a sworn Arabic translator must prepare an official translation of the foreign language document. As a result, litigants faced significant burden to satisfy deadlines. In addition, this increased the risk of inaccurate documents since courts must rely on translations instead of originals.
2.An amendment to service outside the jurisdiction:
In the absence of a treaty between the UAE and the foreign country where the service is to be performed, service outside the jurisdiction can be complicated.
It was uncertain and protracted to serve outside the jurisdiction under the Old Law, since there was no treaty. The process involved various diplomatic channels of the UAE and the foreign jurisdiction where the foreign party was to be served.
In accordance with Article 11(2) of the New Law, service outside the jurisdiction occurs 21 working days after the date of the correspondence from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the diplomatic mission in the foreign country containing the notice or document to be served. This is a change from the previous regime which required the diplomatic mission or ministry report back on service rendered.
It may give serving parties more certainty and confidence that proceedings will be progressed, but parties to be served will have to be cautious now that receiving (or refusing) process may no longer excuse them from liability.
3. Confirmation of cheques as ‘enforceable instruments’:
The Courts are only able to enforce instruments that fall within the definitions of ‘writ of execution, ‘enforceable deed’ or ‘enforceable instrument’.
Article 212 of the New Law sets out a list of enforceable instruments which remains unchanged from the Old Law. The list includes judgments of the courts and settlement agreements endorsed by them.
The last category of enforceable instruments is a ‘catch-all’ provision that states that enforceable instruments include “other documents that are subject to the law”. Article 143(2) of the New Law, which deals with payment orders, appears to have confirmed this status for cheques in line with the position adopted by Federal Law No. 14 of 2020 amending Certain Provisions of Federal Law No. (18) of 1993 Concerning the Commercial Transactions Law (which, among other matters, decriminalized bounced cheques). The parties may open enforcement files directly for dishonored cheques without initiating substantive proceedings. In spite of the fact that Federal Law 14 of 2020 already applied this in practice, the New Law confirms that position that was not taken into consideration under the old law.
4.New requirement for appeal registration:
Parties have, over time, grown accustomed to an almost automated appeals process in onshore UAE civil litigation. Whilst appeal rights continue, in principle, to be automated, the Court of Appeal has been given new powers to filter appeals.
Similarly, to the Cassation Courts, the Court of Appeal will review appeals ‘in chambers’ under Section 167(2) and (3) of the New Law. Following the referral of an appeal, the Court of Appeal has 20 working days to:
- Issue a reasoned decision rejecting the appeal (for procedural or substantive reasons).
- Set a hearing to hear the substance of the appeal.
In addition to filtering out appeals that lack merit (for whatever reason), this could be seen by some as the elimination of a substantive stage in litigation. Thus, appellants must carefully formulate and present their appeals to avoid procedural and/or substantive dismissals ‘in chambers’. Respondents are likely to aim at the opposite by identifying the reasons for dismissing appeals from chambers.
New time limit for cassation registration:
In accordance with Article 178 of the New Law, the time limit for an appeal to cassation is now 30 days (which was previously 60). As noted above, the New Law takes effect on 2 January 2023.
Exceptions may however apply in the following situations:
- The New Law shall not apply to cassations filed prior to 2 January 2023.
- In relation to ongoing proceedings:
-Provisions with a time limit that begin before the New Law enters into force will not apply to those proceedings.
-Judgments issued prior to the new law’s effective date will not be subject to the new time limit.
Cassations are still subject to the new time limitations despite these exceptions, so parties should consider their time limits carefully when considering their appeals.
About the Author:
Mohammed is a Partner & Legal Consultant at HL & A. He is bilingual with fluency in English and Arabic and has over 25 years of experience in commercial law, real estate law, and dispute resolution
“The Article published herein, does not, constitute a legal advice; and does not intend to impart any legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only”