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03 December 2023

Court lifts ban on Arab expat lawyers

Picture used for illustrative purposes only. (GETTY IMAGES)

By Eman Al Baik

The Dubai Appeals Court has upheld an appeal that allows Arab expatriate lawyers to handle cases at the Appeals and Cassation court levels.

The ruling rescinds two administrative decisions which banned Arab expatriate lawyers licensed by the Dubai government, from operating in the above two courts.

The court upheld a verdict of the Court of First Instance which ordered the cancellation of two decisions.

One of decisions that is cancelled, as per the Court of First Instance and the Appeals Court judgment, gave expatriate lawyers a grace period till March 31, 2012 to handle cases at the Court of First Instance.

The appeal was filed by lawyer Hamdi Al Shiwi asking that decrees No. 242 of 2008 and 316 of 2008, which banned expatriate lawyers from pleading before the Courts of Appeal and Cassation with September 1, 2008, as the day of enactment, be cancelled.

Commenting on the judgment, Al Shiwi said that the verdict assures the integrity and neutrality that Dubai Courts have always maintained. “The verdict also assures that the law is applied on all and that there is no favoritism.”

Al Shiwi argued in his case that the two decrees have cancelled Law No. 5 of 1996 regarding practicing advocacy as a profession in the emirate of Dubai.

The law had allowed Arab expatriate lawyers licenced by Dubai government to advocate before Dubai Courts. The law did not specify any period, nor give a grace period for stopping practice, he argued.

He also stated that the decisions acted against a decree issued in February 2000, which issued licences to Arab lawyers working in Dubai without the need to have an Emirati partner.

Al Shiwi based in his case on the legal rule which says: “An administrative decision cannot cancel legislation - weather a law or decree.”

“Hence, a law cannot be cancelled except by using the same legislation tool – by a law, and not by a lower legislative tool – an administrative decision,” Al Shiwi argued.