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Sun 3 Jun 2018 09:31 AM

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Time to update UAE's consumer law, says Al Mulla

Chairman of Baker McKenzie Habib Al Mulla questioned whether high credit card charges in the UAE were legal

Time to update UAE's consumer law, says Al Mulla
“It’s time to come up with a more modern, more up to date consumer law,” Dr Habib Al Mulla said, suggesting the UAE looks to the European Union (EU) for guidelines.

In line with the introduction of new laws to boost foreign investment in the UAE, Dr Habib Al Mulla has suggested updating the country's consumer law.

Speaking to Arabian Business, the chairman of Baker & McKenzie Habib Al Mulla said relationships between corporations and consumers have changed dramatically since the law was first enacted in 2006, particularly with the introduction of sectors such as e-commerce.

“It’s time to come up with a more modern, more up to date consumer law,” he said, suggesting the UAE looks to the European Union (EU) for guidelines.

“We don’t have to reinvent the wheel. We can look to the [EU]. They have one of the best consumer laws in the world. We don’t have to copy them all, but we can look at the best principles they implemented,” he said.

Al Mulla said such changes to small “hidden” laws would fuel the wheels of the slow moving economy and give incentives for people to stay in the UAE.

While simple to change, he said they will have significant impacts on the business environment and substantially improve the country’s investment opportunities when compared to global powers.

“If we want to be seen as one of the capital markets of the world, there are things we need to implement. Consumer protection is one; data, privacy laws … We need to have the full package implemented so that we can say 'yes, we are competing with world class cities like London, New York and Singapore',” he said.

“I see no reason why [this shouldn’t happen]. If the government is touching on what I would call the sacred taboos like residency and foreign ownership of companies, the smaller ones are easier,” he added.

On his official Twitter account, Al Mulla wrote about high credit card charges in the UAE.

“Are the high, complex and complicated charges that banks impose on credit card operations, especially in the case of a purchase in a currency other than dirham, legal? Where are the regulations? Where is consumer protection?”

Even at the exchange rate, he said, banks charge different exchange rate at the time of the transaction and payment.

Al Mulla’s comments come shortly after the UAE revealed new decrees that allow for 100% ownership for foreign companies as well as 10 year visas for certain investors, professionals and students.