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Abu Dhabi Issues Law Number 13 of 2017 Concerning Judicial Fees

Legal Update: Abu Dhabi issues Law Number 13 of 2017 concerning Judicial Fees

On 26th July 2017, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, as the ruler of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi issued Law Number 13 of 2017 regarding the Judicial Fees payable in the Emirate (the New Law). The court fees are explicitly the fees that the litigant has to settle for filling of the lawsuit before the respective court.

The New Law has restored the cap on the fees payable to the Court of First Instance (civil and commercial) claims, however, which under the Law Number 6 of 2013 (the Previous Law), was three (3) percent of the value of the claim with no capping. The fees are now fixed at AED 5,000 and AED 1,000 respectively. The Previous Law had two groups of fees, AED 1000 for arbitral awards and foreign judgments if the claim was an unquantified sum, and the second fees at three (3) percent of the claimed amount with no cap if the amount was quantified.

Significant Changes Introduced by The New Law are as follows:

Article 28 of the New Law highlights the court fee which is set at five (5) percent of the total claim amount for filing a case before the Court of First Instance with a cap of AED 40,000. This is a significant change as unlike the value of the claim the cap will be set to AED 40,000. In comparison with Dubai Law Number 21 of 2015 concerning judicial fees in Emirate of Dubai (the Dubai Law) has capped depending on the value of the claim. However, the New Law for Abu Dhabi gives it set boundaries. A cap of AED 5000 is set for the ratification and termination of arbitral awards. This is an important modification from the Previous Law which required three (3) percent of the value of the award. Foreign judgments can be enforced at a fixed sum of AED 1000 before the Abu Dhabi courts. Alterations have also been made to the fees relating to several claims, applications and the rates for appeals.

Article 14 mentions about the known value of articles, a fixed fee of AED 500 is charged on filing in court. For a lawsuit of unspecified value, a fixed fee will be charged primarily depending on the type of case as mentioned in Article 29. The foregoing article stipulates different fees to be paid to the court under certain circumstances which are as follows:

·        The claimant has to pay AED 300 as outlined in Section 1a of Article 29 for claims concerning urgent judiciary;

·        The claimant is required to pay AED 1,500 in the criminal court as mentioned under Section 1b of Article 29;

·        The Article further stipulates a specific amount of AED 4,000 if the claim amount is more than AED 50,000 as set out Section 1c.

Under Article 50 of the Previous Law, a fee of AED 20 applied to thirteen (13) different types of requests, such as bail and obtaining the accused’s criminal records. However, the New Law has dismissed the fees payable for various requests related to criminal matters. This fee is no longer payable for such requests. The new categories and fees have also been introduced under the Fee Schedule encompassed in Article 60 of the Law. A change in the amount of the fee has differed compared to the previous fee structure.

Impact of the New Law

The new changes to the law will open doors to lawsuits in the region especially for higher value claims as it is more economical due to the re-introduction of the cap of AED 40,000. It will contribute to the Emirate’s reputation for providing an efficient and inexpensive medium for resolving disputes. The reinstatement of the cap of the court fees will enable litigators access to court affordable and fair. This will enhance competition as individuals, and small business will no longer be paying the high cost of court fee and ease the burden of filing cases.