New Dubai penal order 'will allow courts to focus on major cases'

High-profile lawyer Ashish Mehta said the new penal order will allow courts to focus on major cases
High-profile lawyer Ashish Mehta says visitors to Dubai will be helped to deal with some legal matters quickly and cost effectively
By Bernd Debusmann Jr
Wed 15 Nov 2017 10:07 AM

A new penal order that will allow minor misdemeanours and offences to be dealt with through fines – rather than the court system – will significantly improve the efficiency of Dubai’s court system, ease the financial burden of litigation and allow courts to focus more on some serious offences, according to Ashish Mehta, the founder and managing partner of Ashish Mehta & Associates.

In an interview with Arabian Business, Mehta said the move is a “great initiative” will significantly speed up the legal process.

“The [legal] process has to be completed. So if someone is swearing, for example, or it’s a matter of dishonouring a rental cheque, the process was longer, which caused inconvenience to the accused,” he said.

“This decision also allows courts to focus their time on more serious litigation matters that are not of such a nature.”

“Having to deal with a lesser number of smaller matters will reduce the burden on the courts and minimise expenses, because you need a much larger team to deal with a higher volume of work,” he added, noting that establishing a higher threshold for bounced cheques, for example, would mean less time spent by prosecutors on relatively minor financial spats.

The Dubai Public Prosecution on Tuesday activated the new penal order system that will allow minor misdemeanours and offences to be dealt with through fines rather than the court system.

Dubai Attorney General, Essam Al Humaidan, said the new rules will apply to a number of offences, ranging from bounced cheques of up to AED200,000 to insult and defamation cases and non-payment of rents.

According to the decision, the Deira, Bur Dubai, Family and Juvenile, Naturalisation and Residency and Traffic Prosecution entities are authorised to enforce the new penal order.

The move, Mehta added, will be particularly beneficial to visitors to Dubai who find themselves accused of minor offences.

“As a visitor, they would be locked up as a first step, then be given bail, then would be out on bail waiting for the investigation to be completed, then referred to court,” he noted. “Now, however, they basically have a one window service in which these matters can be investigated, examined and determined.”

Additionally, Mehta noted that the penal order will significantly reduce the cost of litigation for the accused, as settling matters outside the courts will not require that they engage an attorney or translator.

“Dubai and the UAE have always taken great initiatives which I strongly feel that other countries should follow,” he added. “This is a model example.”

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