No court hearing without Land Department report

Legal experts say courts will refer case to Land Department before hearing

An investor can register a case against a property developer in the Dubai Courts, but will be asked to submit a report from the Land Department to schedule the first hearing, legal experts have confirmed.

“In the recent months, all real estate cases filed in Dubai Courts began to be referred to the Land Department before the court would consider the case any further. The department is, in turn, expected to issue a so-called “report” on the real estate project at hand. Only after that report is issued and submitted to the court, would the court schedule the first hearing,” Ludmila Yamalova, Managing Partner of HPL Yamalova & Plewka JLT, told Emirates 24|7.

Another legal expert confirmed that cases can be filed with the Dubai Courts, with the court issuing a letter to the investor to get update on the project (escrow account details, construction update, name of the developer, etc) before the case is scheduled for hearing.

The expert comments came after it was reported that investors couldn’t file cases in court directly in issues involving violations by real estate developers and the Land Department needs to be involved.

Although no timeframe is set for the issuance of the report, Ludmila said from the practice it seems that the department takes at least one month, though it is becoming increasingly longer, to issue a report.

The Law 13 of 2008 allegedly cited in the Court of Cassation’s decision does not provide basis for this practice, she contended.

Article 3(2) of Law 13 of 2008 for regulating the interim real estate register only requires the developer to register with the Land Department “a sale or disposition that transferred or restricted title... within 60 days after the date on which [Law 13 of 2008] came into effect.”

According to Richard Bell, Legal Director of the Dispute Resolution Team, Clyde & Co, the courts, last year, have directed plaintiffs to approach the Dubai Land Department and seek a formal report on the project before the hearing begins.

“I don’t think there is any express requirement under the various real estate laws… probably it is  now been taken as a formal advice in recent cases."

However, in the previous instances Article (13) of Law No 13 of 2008 regulating the interim real estate register has been quoted, which reads: "When the Department finds that a developer or Broker has committed an act or omission that constitutes an offence under this Law or other legislation in force, the Director General shall prepare a report and refer the matter to the competent investigating authorities."

No answers were received from the Land Department at the time of publishing this article.

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