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Environmental law and practice in the United Arab Emirates: overview

Published on : June 2017
Author(s):Several

Environmental regulatory framework

  1. What are the key pieces of environmental legislation and the regulatory authorities?

Lawyers in Dubai

The primary legislation for environmental protection in the UAE is Federal Law Number 24 of 1999 for the protection and development of the environment (Environmental Law).

Other laws relevant to environmental issues are:

  • Federal Law Number 23 of 1999 regarding conservation of aquatic resources.
  • Federal Law Number 9 of 1983 regulating the hunting of birds and animals.
  • Federal Law Number 20 of 2006 regarding the use of radioactive materials (which amended Federal Law No. 1 of 2002).
  • Federal Law Number 16 of 2007 concerning animal protection.
  • Federal Law Number 11 of 2002 regarding the regulation and control of international trade in endangered species of wild flora and fauna and an executive order issued by the Council of Ministers Decree No. 22 of 2003.
  • Federal Law Number 5 of 1979 concerning agricultural quarantine.
  • Federal Law Number 6 of 1979 regarding veterinary quarantine.

The following laws have been enacted by their respective emirates concerning their local environmental strategies:

  • Abu Dhabi. Legislation includes:
    • Law Number 21 of 2005 for waste management;
    • Law Number 16 of 2005 restructuring the Environment Agency;
    • Law Number 13 of 2005 regulating grazing;
    • Law Number 5 of 2016 regulating groundwater;
    • Decree Number 42 of 2009, concerning the comprehensive environment health and safety management system (EHSMS).
  • Some of the orders and regulations relating to environmental protection are:
    • Local Order Number 61 of 1991 on the environment protection regulations;
    • Local Order Number 8 of 2002 concerning sewage, irrigation and water drainage;
    • Local Order Number 11 of 2003 regarding public health;
    • Law Number 15 for the protection of groundwater.
  • Laws include:
    • Law Number 6 of 1998 for incorporating the environment and natural resources authority;
    • Law Number 1 of 1974 for the protection of public health.
  • Ras Al Khaimah.This emirate has enacted Law Number 2 of 2007 for the environment protection and development authority.

Regulatory authorities

The principal federal regulatory authorities for supervising environmental issues are:

  • Federal Environment Agency (FEA).This is a federal governmental body which frames policies for further protection and development of a healthy environment and oversees pollution control and environmental standards.
  • Federal Ministry of Climate Change and Environment. The Ministry manages all aspects of climate change including implementing climate change policies and initiatives.
  • Air Quality Department of the Ministry of Environment and Water. This regulates the air pollution in the nation by issuing decrees and air standards.
  • Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. This deals with marine and land environmental matters.

Emirates have also established local regulatory agencies to supervise sector-specific environmental issues, as follows:

  • Environment Agency–Abu Dhabi (EAD) is the principal regulator for environmental matters in Abu Dhabi, while the Environmental Research and Wildlife Development Agency (ERDWA) operates research centres for marine and wildlife development.
  • Regulation and Supervision Bureau for Water, Waste Water and Electricity (Abu Dhabi).
  • Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing in Dubai has the dual responsibilities of ensuring that safe environmental practices are followed while encouraging tourism practices. The environment department at the Dubai municipality is the strategic regulator of environment-related issues in the urban environment of the city of Dubai.
  • Department of Environment and Protected Areas for the preservation of endangered species is responsible for the conservation of endangered wildlife in the emirate of Sharjah.

Regulatory enforcement

  1. To what extent are environmental requirements enforced by regulators?

The Environmental Law (Federal Law Number 24 of 1999 for the protection and development of the environment) sets outs criminal and civil penalties for environmental offenses, which are enforced by the relevant authority, depending on the type of offense committed.

See Questions 67 and 11 to 13.

Environmental NGOs

  1. To what extent are environmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other pressure groups active?

Lawyers in UAE

Various non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and pressure groups have been involved in a range of sector-specific initiatives including the following:

  • Emirates Natural History Group, an Abu Dhabi-based organization, is engaged in safeguarding the natural history of the UAE and Oman. It is also a member of the World Conservation Union (IUCN).
  • Environment Friends Society, also based in Abu Dhabi, works towards raising public awareness on environment-related issues.
  • Emirates Environment Group is a Dubai-based organization committed to protecting the environment through education.
  • Dubai Natural History Group conducts surveys and research into activities that are hazardous to the nation's environment.
  • Arabian Leopard Trust was established in Sharjah to promote the conservation of endangered wildlife species, specifically the Arabian Leopard.
  • Emirates Wildlife Society in association with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) aims to protect biodiversity in the major sites across the country.

Two other major pressure groups that are active in the protection and conservation of the environment are:

  • Environment and Wildlife Management System (EWM) that is accountable for handling wildlife collections and land owned by Abu Dhabi royal family.
  • Emirates Health Club that primarily focuses on the protection and preservation of marine and coastal resources.

Environmental permits

  1. Is there an integrated permitting regime or are there separate environmental systems for different types of emission? Can companies apply for a single environmental permit for all activities on a site or do they have to apply for separate permits?

Integrated/separate permitting regime

Companies that intend to conduct business in a particular emirate are required to obtain the necessary environmental permits from the respective authorities that regulate environmental concerns in that emirate (see Question 1).

Single/separate permits

These permits may be either integrated or separate in nature depending on the underlying project and the ambit of environmental conditions that are affected.

  1. What is the framework for the integrated permitting regime?

Permits and regulator

In Abu Dhabi, Environment Agency–Abu Dhabi (EAD) is responsible for protection and enhancement of the environment by reducing pollutants in the air, in the water, and on land. All operators or entities must obtain an environmental permit before beginning any project (Environmental Law (Federal Law No. 24 of 1999 for the protection and development of the environment)). EAD provides grants for development and infrastructure projects, industrial facilities, and hazardous material stores.

The EAD also has a duty to safeguard environmental and natural resources by assessing the risk of pollution involved in the project before granting permits to companies (Law No. 16 of 2005).

The Environment Department of Dubai Municipality (see Question 1) issues permits and licenses that allow companies to conduct their commercial or industrial activities in the emirate after assessing any potential environmental risks.

Length of permit

The license issued by EAD is renewable every year to ensure that an operator or entity maintains compliance with the regulations and conditions and also to ensure that they conform with the most recent laws.

Restrictions on transfer

A permit that has been awarded to a company by the competent environmental authority cannot be transferred to a third party.

Penalties

Non-compliance with EAD regulations attracts a fine of at least AED5,000.

Water pollution

  1. What is the regulatory regime for water pollution (whether part of an integrated regime or separate)?

Permits and regulator

Lawyers in Abu DhabiThe Environment Agency–Abu Dhabi (EAD), along with the Regulation and Supervision Bureau for Water, Waste Water and Electricity in Abu Dhabiis responsible for regulating the discharge of waste effluents into water resources. These authorities enforce the wastewater and marine water quality monitoring regime set out in the guidance document issued by the EAD (Technical Guidance Document for the Permitting of Marine Dredging Operations in Abu Dhabi).

Dubai's Ports, Customs, and Free Zones Corporation (Trakhees, which is part of the Dubai Department of Planning and Development) primarily oversees issues related to water pollution in that emirate. This authority prescribes standards for the discharge of water pollutants into water resources, and issues harbor discharge permits that allow companies to discharge waste pollutants as long as they do not exceed the maximum standards set by the authority.

Prohibited activities

The Federal Ministry of Climate Change and Environment bans companies from producing, manufacturing, formulating, circulating, importing and using certain pesticides prescribed by law (Ministerial Decree 849 of 2010 on the amendment of Ministerial Decision No. 554 for 2009 concerning the prohibited and restricted use of pesticides). The Ministry also issues decrees from time to time for the protection of the country's water and other resources.

Clean-up/compensation

Parties violating any of the country's water pollution laws are liable to civil actions and are responsible for all costs associated with any damage to the environment caused by their actions (Article 71, Environment Law (Federal Law No. 24 of 1999 for the protection and development of the environment)). Offending parties can also be asked to compensate individuals for the losses caused by the pollution. NGOs can also institute civil suits against environmental offenders.

Penalties

Offenses under the provisions of the Environment Law also attract stringent criminal and civil penalties. Offenders are liable to fines ranging from AED10,000 to AED1 million and a prison sentence, depending on the gravity of the offense.

Companies convicted of polluting water bodies with industrial or commercial waste are liable to a fine ranging from AED10,000 to AED100,000

Air pollution

  1. What is the regulatory regime for air pollution (whether part of an integrated regime or separate)?

Permits and regulator

The Air Quality Department of the Ministry of Environment and Water regulates air pollution in the nation by issuing decrees and air standards.

The Environment Agency–Abu Dhabi (EAD) is the central authority for regulating air pollution in Abu Dhabi.

Dubai's Ports, Customs, and Free Zones Corporation (Trakhees, which are part of the Dubai Department of Planning and Development) primarily supervises air pollution by companies in Dubai and sets maximum standards of discharge of air pollutants for air quality purposes.

Prohibited activities

The Environmental Law (see Question 1, Legislation) does not explicitly prohibit businesses from conducting activities but no operator or entity is allowed to commence activities unless it has conducted a detailed study of their effects on the environment (Article 4, Environmental Law (Federal Law No. 24 of 1999 for the protection and development of the environment)).

Clean-up/compensation

Parties that violate any provisions concerning air pollution in the Environmental Law are liable to a civil action and are responsible for all costs associated with any damage caused to the environment by their actions (Article 71, Environmental Law). They can also be asked to compensate individuals for any losses they incur from the polluting activities. NGOs can also institute civil litigation suits against environmental offenders.

Penalties

Fines ranging from AED2,000 to AED20,000 can be imposed on offenders, as well as criminal liability, depending on the nature and extent of the pollution.

Climate change, renewable energy, and energy efficiency

  1. Are there any national targets or legal requirements for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing the use of renewable energy (such as wind power) and increasing energy efficiency (for example in buildings and appliances)? Is there a national strategy on climate change, renewable energy and energy efficiency?

Top Best Lawyers in DubaiThe UAE has initiated various environmental strategies to meet the growing population and the national goal of conserving the country's resources.

Vision 2021 has the aim of attaining sustainable development to accompany diversification in the national economy and to increase investment in sectors such as clean energy, sustainable development, information technology and space technology.

Abu Dhabi and Dubai have also initiated local strategies such as Abu Dhabi's Economic Vision 2030 and Dubai Plan 2021, with the primary objective of economic diversification and sustainable development.

The recent (long-awaited) unveiling of UAE's Energy Plan 2050 aims to transform the country's energy sector into a clean energy sector by the year 2050, with the following long-term targets:

- Clean energy: 44%.

- Gas: 38%.

- Clean coal: 12%.

 - Nuclear energy: 6%.

This is a significant challenge since the economy has historically depended on the oil and gas sector.

The federal government and the respective emirates' governments are working to achieve economic development by reducing carbon emissions and employing innovative technologies to improve industrial efficiency.

The government has also set out a federal legislative framework for waste management, including an integrated waste management regime.

Also, the Blue Carbon Demonstration Project was initiated in 2013 to provide a strategic understanding of carbon sequestration (removal and storage of carbon gases) in Abu Dhabi. The scope of the initiative was expanded to cover the whole nation in 2014 due to the effectiveness of the project in Abu Dhabi.

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  1. Is your jurisdiction party to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement? How are the requirements under those international agreements implemented or being implemented?

UAE ratified the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (Kyoto Protocol) in 2005 and became a non-Annex 1 country, meaning it is not obliged to reduce its carbon emissions following the Protocol. However, the nation has opted to reduce its emissions by tracking the pollutants in the air and assessing policies for reducing GHG emissions. It also agreed (at the COP21 United Nations Climate Change Conference in December 2015) to generate 24% of its energy from renewable resources. Although UAE is not under any legal obligation to do so, the nation has initiated various national and local strategies to improve energy efficiency while reducing the total emissions and burning of fossil fuels (see Question 8).

  1. What, if any, emissions/carbon trading schemes operate?

There is much potential for the increased use of carbon trading schemes, although the concept is relatively novel in the Middle East. Major free zones, such as the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre in Dubai, have entered the carbon sector and Dubai is becoming a center for trading greenhouse gas emissions permits. The primary phase of the carbon trading scheme in the UAE was aimed at collecting about 6.5 million tons of carbon dioxide from industrial facilities that could later be transported and employed in oil reservoirs to enhance the process of oil recovery.

However, the carbon trading market is still in its initial stages, and the viability of this scheme can only be properly assessed once the sector has been established for longer.

Environmental impact assessments

  1. Are there any requirements to carry out environmental impact assessments (EIAs) for certain types of projects?

Scope

An EIA must be undertaken for certain types of projects The Environment Agency–Abu Dhabi (EAD) has released a list of projects that may potentially require an EIA under the Environment Law, including fossil natural resources projects, non-fossil natural resources projects, industrial projects and agricultural projects among others. This list can be found in a document released by the EAD (Permitting of Development and Infrastructure in Abu Dhabi (EAD, EQ-PCE-SOP-02)) where the extent of potential environmental impacts is undetermined at the design phase. The result of the EIA will give an indication of which particular aspect(s) of the proposed project creates an impact on the environment.

Permits and regulator

In Abu Dhabi, the EAD grants permit to carry out projects on the basis of EIAs, while in Dubai, the Environment Planning and Studies Section (EPSS) of Environment Department in Dubai Municipality issues permits.

The following documents must be submitted for the EIA process:

  • EIA summary.
  • EIA report.
  • EIA checklist.

These reports and documents and any other technical report must be signed by the authorized person who prepared the report and by the project owner.

Penalties

Penalties for non-compliance with an EIA vary from AED1,000 to AED1 million, and a prison sentence of up to one year for criminal liability.

Waste

  1. What is the regulatory regime for waste?

Permits and regulator

Abu Dhabi. The Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi (EAD) and the Centre for Waste Management Abu Dhabi (CVM) issue the licenses, approval, and permits for waste management in that emirate. They also provide permits for (Law No. 21 of 2005 on waste management):

  • Waste management.
  • Trading of waste.

Dubai. In Dubai, as in the other Emirates, the municipality's Sustainable Waste Management Department issues permits and licenses to waste operators, and undertakes all responsibilities relating to waste management in the emirate.

Prohibited activities

The regulatory regime for waste prohibits the open burning of any waste unless that is expressly permitted by EAD and CVM. They also prohibit the open dumping of waste in a desert, open area and highway verge.

Operator criteria

Operators of waste disposal sites must:

  • Seek preliminary approval from the competent authority.
  • Comply with the regulations laid down by the authority for storage, disposal and processing facilities.
  • Seek approval of the competent authority before storing any hazardous materials on site.
  • Seek annual approval from the competent authority for recurrent shipments of hazardous wastes.

Special rules for certain waste

Hazardous waste including asbestos, medical waste, waste from slaughterhouses and oil and gas waste must be disposed of per the specific legislation dealing with those materials (for example, Federal Cabinet Resolution No. 39 of 2006 on banning the import and production of asbestos (see Question 13)).

Penalties

Violations of the waste management provisions of the Environmental Law (Federal Law No. 24 of 1999 for the protection and development of the environment) can incur a fine of up to AED20,000 and a prison sentence of not less than one year.

Asbestos

  1. What is the regulatory regime for asbestos?

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Companies and individuals dealing with asbestos must comply with the requirements of the following laws:

  • Federal Law No. 24 of 1999 for the protection and development of the environment( Environmental Law).
  • Federal Cabinet Resolution No. 39 of 2006 on banning the import and production of asbestos.
  • Federal Ministerial Decision No. 32 of 1982 on protecting employees from hazards at work.
  • Federal Ministerial Decision (4/1) of 1981 on the determination of hazardous works.
  • Law No. 21 of 2005 for waste management.

Abu Dhabi. Mandatory requirements relating to the use of asbestos in Abu Dhabi are set out in regulations issued by the emirate's Environment, Health and Safety Management System (Abu Dhabi EHS Regulatory Instrument).

Dubai. The use of asbestos is regulated by the Public Health and Safety Department of the Dubai Municipality, which issues guidelines (Guidelines for Safety in Handling Asbestos).

Others. The municipalities of the other Emirates regulate the transport and disposal of asbestos in their respective jurisdictions.

Prohibited activities

Asbestos has been banned by the federal government (Federal Cabinet Resolution No. 39 of 2006 on banning the import and production of asbestos). Most of the activities involving asbestos relate to the transportation and disposal of the material.

Main obligations

Abu Dhabi. The EHS Regulatory Instrument (see above) sets out requirements for companies that deal in asbestos in the emirate, including that they must:

  • Identify potential asbestos materials by a specialist consultant.
  • Develop an asbestos management plan to reduce risks.
  • Make all staff dealing with the material aware of the management plan.
  • Provide prescribed tools and equipment to staff to reduce the risk of exposure.
  • Dispose of the waste at the prescribed waste management site in Abu Dhabi.

Dubai. The guidelines issued by the municipality (see above) require anyone handling asbestos to (among other requirements):

Enclose asbestos waste in the prescribed manner.

Provide accurate labeling of all materials containing asbestos.

Provide prescribed safety tools and equipment to staff removing or dealing with the material.

Dispose of the waste material at the prescribed waste management site in Dubai.

Permits and regulator

Abu Dhabi. Companies transporting and disposing of asbestos must obtain an official approval from the Centre of Waste Management–Abu Dhabi (Tadweer).

Dubai. The Environmental Control Section of the Dubai municipality deals with companies that transport and dispose of asbestos and its waste materials.

Others. The respective municipalities of the other Emirates regulate activities involving asbestos.

Penalties

Anyone who contravenes the provisions relating to the disposal of hazardous materials can be sentenced to imprisonment of up to one year and a fine of between AED10,000 and AED 20,000 (Environmental Law).

Contaminated land

  1. What is the regulatory regime for contaminated land?

Regulator and legislation

Abu Dhabi. The Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi (EAD) regulates the inspection and assessment of contaminated land following the:

  • Code of Practice–Contaminated Land Management.
  • Technical Guideline–Identification and Remediation of Contaminated Land.

Dubai. The Environmental Planning and Studies section of the Environmental Department of Dubai Municipality regulates and assesses contaminated land.

Others. The municipalities of the other Emirates regulate the inspection and assessment of contaminated land in their respective jurisdictions.

Top Best Law Firms in UAEThe principal legislation governing soil pollution and the use of hazardous materials on the land is Federal Law No. 24 of 1999 for the protection and development of the environment (Environmental Law) Various local laws have also been enacted by Emirates to combat specific issues relating to contaminated land in their respective jurisdiction.

Investigation and clean-up

The EAD conducts a systematic study of the land and the cause of the contamination before evaluating the findings to identify an appropriate restoration plan.

The Dubai municipality carries out a three-phase investigation as follows:

  • An environmental site assessment exercise identifies the environmental conditions of the site.
  • An evaluation of the findings is made, and an action plan is generated for restoration.
  • Assessment of alternative clean-up methods, costs, and logistics is carried out, and the remediation of the contaminated land is instigated, if appropriate.

All the other emirates have a similar investigation and restoration process in place, ensuring that a detailed analysis of the land is conducted before clean-up works are commenced.

The costs of the investigation process and consequent restoration are borne by the party who is responsible for the contamination.

Penalties

Any party who violates the provisions of the Environmental Law relating to contamination of land can incur a fine of between AED10,000 and AED100,000

  1. Who is liable for the clean-up of contaminated land? Can this be excluded?

Liable party

The party who is responsible for the cause of the contamination is liable for all the costs of investigation and remediation process. If more than one party is responsible for the contamination, they are jointly liable for the costs.

There are currently no government funds available for clean-up works where the polluter is not financially solvent.

Owner/occupier liability

The owner of the land is responsible for engaging environmental experts to conduct a site assessment even before the formal investigation process begins.

The owner, occupier or tenant of the land is also liable for any damage caused during the investigation and any indemnity that arises as a result of the process.

Previous owner/occupier liability

The regulations and guidelines issued by the relevant authorities do not specifically apportion liability to a previous owner or occupier who caused contamination to the land. Any dispute that arises between the parties over liability occurring before a transfer of ownership will be referred to a court of law in the relevant Emirate.

Limitation of liability

The regulations of the municipalities of the various emirates and the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi (EAD) strictly adheres to the "polluter pays" principle and does not set a limit on the extent of the polluter's liability to pay.

Voluntary clean-up program

The UAE does not have specific legislation for voluntary clean-up programs, although individual municipalities embark on clean-up campaigns from time to time to create general awareness in the society as well as restoring contaminated land.

  1. Can a lender incur liability for contaminated land and is it common for a lender to incur liability? What steps do lenders commonly take to minimize liability?

Lender liability

There are no specific provisions in legislation governing the liability of a creditor for contamination of land, and in such cases, the court with the relevant jurisdiction will deal with the matter based on the particular circumstances of the case.

The lender is not liable for the pollution or contamination that arises due to the past use of the land. However, the lender might have to initiate an investigation process and adhere to the guidelines of the local municipality.

Minimising liability

The court decides the matter depending on the underlying contract between the lender and borrower. A lender's liability can be minimized by including a provision stating that the borrower bears liability for contamination caused by the debtor's occupation or ownership.

  1. Can an individual bring legal action against a polluter, owner or occupier?

The relevant authority institutes the investigation and other legal formalities against the polluter, owner or occupier. However, a third-party individual can bring a civil suit against the polluter, owner or occupier in the court if it has been affected by the contamination.

Hydraulic fracturing

  1. Is fracking being pursued or considered in your jurisdiction? If so, what is the regulatory framework that applies to manage environmental risks?

Consenting and environmental impact assessment

The UAE does not have any legislation or regulation explicitly dealing with issues concerning hydraulic fracturing (fracking).

Abu Dhabi is expected to increase its shale production capacity in the recent future to reduce its dependence on conventional oil.

Other issues

Despite fears that hydraulic fracturing creates a significant impact on water and air quality and is a great risk to human health the federal government appears to be for producing shale gas as it will reduce the country's dependence on conventional gas.

Environmental liability and asset/share transfers

  1. In what circumstances can a buyer inherit pre-acquisition environmental liability in an asset sale/the sale of a company (share sale)?

Asset sale

Buyers must undertake a thorough site check before completing the acquisition to verify compliance with any environmental regulations, permits or provisions.

However, carrying out environmental due diligence in the UAE is not easy and seeking information on previous regulatory violations on a particular site can be a problematic and cumbersome process.

Share sale

The buyer of the shares of a company will not be liable if the sale agreement contains clauses stating that the former owner will continue to be responsible for the pollution and relieve the buyer from past acts, liability, demands, and claims on the company. Such a clause must not contravene the provisions of Federal Law Number 2 on Commercial Companies.

  1. In what circumstances can a seller retain environmental liability after an asset sale/a share sale?

Asset sale

In an asset sale process, the seller transfers the entire business with its rights and obligations, and it is up to the buyer to accept the conditions of the sale. The sale and purchase of assets are governed by the provisions of Federal Law No. 18 of 1993.

Share sale

In the share sale process, the seller is at no risk of retaining the environmental liabilities after the sale as the buyer usually acquires all the liabilities attached to the sale unless there is any specific provision in the contract stating otherwise.

  1. Does a seller have to disclose environmental information to the buyer in an asset sale/a share sale?

Asset sale

The seller must disclose environmental information, especially that which relates to soil and contaminated land. If the seller fails to do so, the buyer can claim for damages.

Share sale

The seller must disclose known environment information in good faith.

  1. Is environmental due diligence common in an asset sale/a share sale?

Scope

Environment due diligence is increasing in company sales. The due diligence carried out by the seller/buyers is dependent on the type of the activity and the amount of environmental risk involved.

Such due diligence has been a debatable issue because of significant change in climate policy after the UAE joined the Kyoto Protocol as an Annex-II country. The federal government is taking a cautious approach towards due diligence in the environmental sector.

Types of assessment

The types of assessment undertaken for a particular project depends on various factors including the likely extent of the environmental impact, the master plan of the project and other data. Initially, three types of assessment are conducted as follows:

  • Preliminary environment review (PER).
  • Strategic environment assessment (SEA).
  • Environment impact assessment (EIA) (see Question 11).

Environmental consultants

Environmental consultants are employed in the assessment process, in which the sellers in an asset or share sale hire the consultant for assessment reports and deliver the copy to the buyer.

The consultants can be held liable for environmental reports submitted to the relevant authorities.

  1. Are environmental warranties and indemnities usually given and what issues do they usually cover in an asset sale/a share sale?

Asset sale

The ambit of coverage of an environmental indemnity clause depends on the provisions in the underlying contract. Parties can draft their own clauses to determine the specific limits of any environmental warranty.

Share sale

See above, Asset sale.

  1. Are there usually limits on environmental warranties and indemnities?

Environmental warranties and indemnities are limited to the extent of contamination that occurred on the asset sold.

Reporting and auditing

  1. Do regulators keep public registers of environmental information? What is the procedure for a third party to search those registers?

The UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment maintains up-to-date statistics and reports on environmental issues in the UAE. This information is available at the Ministry's webpage at www.moccae.gov.ae/en/home.aspx .

  1. Do companies have to carry out environmental auditing? Do companies have to report information to the regulators about environmental performance?

Companies are also required to carry out environmental auditing by regulations implemented by the respective emirate.

The environmental audit report, which should include the root causes of the prior environmental issues, must be submitted to the relevant authority

  1. Do companies have to report information to the regulators and the public about environmental incidents (such as water pollution and soil contamination)?

Companies must report all issues of environmental pollution to the relevant authority. Legal actions and environmental protection steps can then be initiated by Federal Law No. 24 of 1999 for the protection and development of the environment.

  1. What powers do environmental regulators have to access a company?

The environmental regulators (see Question 1) are responsible for implementing regulations and conducting inspections in companies that may be responsible for environmental pollution.

  1. What obligations are there on companies to report on environmental issues in their annual corporate reports?

Companies are required to report in the annual corporate report about any environmental damage and associated costs for which it is responsible (Federal Law No. 2 of 2015 regarding Commercial Companies).

Environmental insurance

  1. What types of insurance cover are available for environmental damage or liability, and what risks are usually covered? How easy is it to obtain environmental insurance and is it common in practice?

Types of insurance and risk

There are two main types of insurance available for environmental liability:

  • Pollution Legal Liability (PLL): this policy is designed per the Environmental Damage Regulation, 2009 and includes the liability for damaging biodiversity.
  • Contractors Pollution Liability (CPL): this policy protects the contractors, developers and site owners against the pollution releases and sudden accidents caused at the sites.

Obtaining insurance

Environment insurance is easy to obtain, and there are numerous insurance companies covering such risks.

Environmental tax

  1. What are the main environmental taxes?

There are no direct or indirect environmental taxes.

Reform

  1. Are there any proposals for significant reform of environmental law?

UAE has initiated various strategies towards protecting its environment and natural resources. The country has also been trying to structure its policies in conformity with international standards.

The regulatory authorities

UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment

Main activities. This is a federal ministry that governs and regulates the issues surrounding the growing concern of climate change and its adverse effects on environmental conditions in UAE.

www.moccae.gov.ae/en/home.aspx

Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi

Main activities. The EAD is the key authority that regulates environment related matters in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. It is a governmental agency which drafts strategies and regulations for the protection of the environment in Abu Dhabi.

www.ead.ae/SitePages/Home.aspx

Dubai Municipality

Main activities. The Dubai Municipality oversees the urban development, environmental issues, commercial practices and issuance of licences in the Emirate of Dubai.

www.dm.gov.ae/wps/portal/home

Online resources

Legislation

www.government.ae/en/laws

Description. The official portal for UAE government legislation.

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STA Law Firm

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Originally published with RESOURCE ID W-008-3980, Practical Law Guide, THOMSON REUTERS