A Brief on the Judicial System of the UAE:
The UAE is Federation which was established in 1971 between six Emirates: Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Sharjah and Umm Al Quwain. The seventh emirate of Ras Al Khaimah joined the union in February 1972.
Federal laws come into being once the Supreme Council of Rulers (the highest legislative authority in the UAE according to the 1971 provisional constitution) approves laws put forth by the Federal Council of Ministers and the National Assembly.
The judicial system in the UAE provides that the Federal Government enjoys the fight to legislate the laws regarding substantive matters. However, the local judiciaries are also expected to issue their own Decrees regarding the regulation of local affairs and compliance is required by both the federal and the local legalizations.
Hence, the laws of the UAE are divided into two main categories: union laws and decrees.
What makes the UAE a more complex legal environment is the fact that the constitution provides that each of the seven emirates is given the right to join the Federal judicial system or maintain their own individual system.
Both the emirates of Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah choose to maintain their own judicial systems. Dubai also has its own Court of Cassation, however all other emirates have to submit their final stafe of appeal before the Court of Cassation in the capital Abu Dhabi.
As in any civil law jurisdiction, the UAE follows a civil law system where Courts are not bound by previous decisions rendered by other courts or by their own previous decision.
Although judgments delivered by higher courts are usually applied by lower courts.
At the same time, decisions that are repeated by the Supreme Court can be used as guidelines in a later case.
The Structure of the Federal Courts in the UAE:
The UAE Courts are divided into three main divisions civil, criminal, and Sharjah courts.
They are also divided according to the three stages of litigation as follows:
Courts of First Instance, Appeal and the Federal Supreme Court (referred to as Court of Cassation).
The Court of First Instance includes the Civil Court, the Criminal Court and the Sharjah Court.
The jurisdicion of the thirt division, namely the Sharjah courts, which initially was to review matters of personal status, was expanded in certain Emirates such as Abu Dhabi to include serious criminal cases, labor and other commercial matters.
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