Lawyers, creditors and collection agencies in the UAE must remember to look for assets like horses, camels and falcons when making enforcement claims, according to Mahmoud Abuwasel, co-founder, partner and head of client strategy at local law firm Bin Nakhira & Partners.
His advice comes after noting a consistent string of debtor examinations that showed up no assets.
“It's crucial to know where to look for assets,” Abuwasel told Arabian Business.
For example, he said, in a recent case in the UAE, when an enquiry into a client's debtor showed up no real estate or vehicle assets, the firm turned their search to uncover livestock.
He explained: “If the judge has ruled that someone pay you a certain amount but they don't, then you can ask an enforcement judge to issue an enquiry (a writ) into the disclosure of assets that the debtor may own from relevant entities that have registered owner databases such as the Land Department, Roads and Transport Authority or banks.”
The judge can then order for the discovered assets to be seized by the court and auctioned, he said. But while real estate, vehicles and bank accounts are frequently looked into, according to Abuwasel, the livestock asset class is overlooked by most.
“In case of our client, when we enquired through the court about his assets, it was found that, presumably, he had cleared bank accounts and transferred ownership of vehicles and real estate to other parties,” he said.
“The enquiry turned up nothing, which was impossible as it was obvious he is a person of means. What the defendant had overlooked concealing was their horses, which we enforced against.”
Claims enforcement is a frequent issue for creditors in the UAE, Abuwasel added, listing the aggressive asset transfer and concealment by defendants, as well as lack of followup by counsel, as common challenges.
Horses and camels in the UAE can have values in the millions of US dollars, he said, also pointing out that transactions during the annual Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition run in the hundreds of thousands for young camels and horses.
“The debtor's horse has now been seized by the court and it's value will be assessed following which it will be auctioned,” he said, adding that until the horse is auctioned off, the horse’s care and maintenance are also added to the cost order against the debtor.
“Most people aren't looking for this (livestock asset class) but knowing where to look for assets is a crucial factor in enforcement.”
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