Access to Civil Justice in the UAE - How justice is being denied, how we plan to help and how we hope to influence practical change

June 7, 2016

The issue of access to justice has long been a struggle to achieve, given that access to justice can also have negative results.  On the one hand, we should have the right to take a civil claim against another party whether we can afford it or not.  On the other hand, if it were too easy to make a claim, this would leave people open to abuse, by way of frivolous actions.

 

Often when someone (person or company) has a claim, it is because they have not been paid for a product or service that they have provided.  Sometimes, it is a partnership dispute, employment dispute or company dispute and usually the claimant (or victim) is out of pocket.  To recover funds that are owed, they will need to take action through the civil courts which can prove cost prohibitive.

 

If someone wanted to take a civil action in the Court of First Instance, they would need to put down a court fee.  The current amount required is 7.5% of the value of the claim (though capped at 30,000 Dirhams).  This is only the start; legal fees can amount to 100,000 Dirhams (or more) over the course of proceedings and often there is a requirement for a forensic accountant or expert witness.  When a Claimant has already lost money, the 100,000 Dirhams or so (GBP 20,000) can prevent them from seeking justice; all they can do is walk away.  While on rare occasions, law firms may take on a case on a contingency fee basis (no win, no fee), they often lose interest over time.

 

We have seen time and time again, that the costs involved in seeking justice can be prohibitive to people who genuinely have a claim, leaving the defendants open to continue to commit these tortious wrongs to others.  In knowing this, defendants often refuse alternative dispute resolution, mediation or private negotiations, especially when they are aware of the claimant´s limited financial capabilities.

 

In many cases where someone has managed to fund a civil suit, the defendant makes a counter claim in order to complicate the matter; and as a means to negotiate with the claimant that both parties drop their suits entirely.  Counter claims have been used as a form of blackmail, and have been quite successful.

 

Given the number of injustices we have been witness to, we endeavour to establish a fund to seek retribution and civil justice in certain cases.  We hope that in helping to make justice more accessible, tortious wrongs will be reduced.  In turn, positive changes in retribution will encourage contracts and agreements to be adhered to and thus, will in the future, make doing business in the UAE safer for all and less open to abuse.

 

 

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