MGT608 Comparative Legal Analysis

MGT608 Comparative Legal Analysis 2020



The aim of this study is to undertake research on the legal system of the United Arab Emirates. In 2nd December 1972, the United Arab Emirates is an independent, united and sovereign state.

Its judicial system is based on the civil law and British law system with influencing by Roman, Egyptian, Islamic, and French laws. There are seven emirates that are following the constitution of the United Arab Emirates; Dubai, Sharjah, Abu Dhabi, Ras Al Khaimah, Um Al Quwain, Ajman and Al Fujairah (, 2019).

This study is focusing on the parliamentary system, sources of law, court structure operating and category of the legal system operating in the United Arab Emirates.

The parliamentary system in the United Arab Emirates

The parliament of the UAE was established in 1996 and the federal presidential elected monarchy is the form of government in the country.

The president of the country is elected from the absolute monarchs of the seven emirates. The council of ministers or cabinet is appointed by the president.

UAE also includes an FSC (Federal Supreme Council) that is the highest constitutional body in the country. FSC is composed of seven rulers from each of the seven emirates and they meet four times each year.

The main function of FSC is to establish general sanctions and policies for federal legislation. Another function of FSC is to elect the president and vice-president from their number (Helen Ziegler and Associates, 2019).

In addition to this, the president appoints the prime minister and deputy prime minister in UAE.

Sources of law in the United Arab Emirates

Basically, a civil law jurisdiction is followed in the United Arab Emirates that is depending on the laws of Roman, French, and Egyptian in the first place. Due to this, it can be said that the main source of law in UAE is Sharia laws.

The constitution of UAE provides Islam as the official religion of the Federation so that the main source of legislation of UAE is Islamic Sharia (Forstenlechner et al., 2012).

However, it can be said that the major source of law in UAE is Islam along with unwritten social conventions. In concern to Sharia, it can be said that it focuses on the judgment in family disputes while the laws of customary are judged the handling of criminal assaults as well as personal disputes.

The judgments are passed in UAE court according to Sharia when there is an absence of a provision in UAE law to cover the determined issue. In addition to this, the constitution of UAE also includes other sources of law that represents that Islamic Sharia is not the only source of law in the UAE.

As well, the international law is a secondary source of law in UAE in concern to the UAE obligations signed in the conventions of international level.

However, it can be said that the main source of law in the United Arab Emirates Islamic Sharia, where the principles of Islamic jurisprudence are followed to construct and interpret the UAE law (Webb, 2010).

The court structure operating in the United Arab Emirates

In concern to the United Arab Emirates, Zahlan (2016) stated that the court structure of UAE includes three main branches like a criminal, civil, and Islamic (Sharia) law.

The federal court structure of the country includes a final court of appeal that is located in Abu Dhabi named with the Abu Dhabi Supreme Court.

In this, the federal judicial system does not include Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah as their subject to the federal Supreme Court because they have their own court systems.

There are some courts that comprise the court structure in Dubai such as, the court of appeal, the court of the first instance, the court of cassation, etc.

In concern to the court of the first instance, it is identified that it includes criminal court, civil court and the Sharia Court (Brown, 2012). Below are the courts that are operating in the United Arab Emirates:

The Supreme Court

Under article 96 of the Constitution of UAE, it is identified that the Supreme Court consists a number of Judges and a president that will not exceed than five in all and appointed by decree and issued by the Union President after approval through Supreme Council.

The Supreme Court is divided by constitution into two types, federal courts, and local courts.

Federal Courts

The federal courts consider all cases arising within the territory of UAE such as transactions, disputes, domiciliary, etc. In addition, the federal courts of UAE have a type of emergency jurisdiction by which UAE court can identify preliminary applications for urgent applications and attachment of assets of the defendant (Mednicoff, 2012).

In federal courts, cases are commenced at the time the Reconciliation and Settlement Committee files a complaint.

For this, the reconciliation will be attempted by the relevant reconciliation committee as well as the complaints will be referred to the court after failed by resolution efforts.

Local Courts

Local courts are also known as First Instance Courts in the UAE. Fundamentally, it considers the authentications, cases as well as all urgent matters regarding disputes among the people.

In addition, it also considers the rights, security, and safety related safeguard to the general public of the country. There are several kinds of local courts in the UAE legislative system:

  • The Civil Court– A civil court deals with urgent cases and petitions of all types, financial or corporeal rights, petitions of attachments, complaints, orders of payment, etc. In addition, the legal positions to protect the virtue that does not includes labor, personal status, commercial, realty, endowment cases and cases of inheritance (Grivna et al., 2012).
  • Criminal Actions- In the UAE commence, criminal actions are taken after filing a complaint to their local police in the jurisdiction. In this, the offense was committed during the investigation as well as the police can take the statements of the parties involved in it. After following this initial investigation, usually, the local police refer the matter to the office of the prosecutor within 48 hours.
  • Sharia or Islamic Courts– The Sharia or Islamic court in the UAE is mainly responsible for matters of civil only between the Muslims.
  • The Court of Cassation– Court of Cassation only hears the disputes on matters of law and it is the highest court in the UAE.

Common Law Courts-

  • Dubai International Financial Center Courts (DIFC) – DIFC is an independent common law judiciary in the English language that provides jurisdiction commercial disputes and governing civil worldwide or different regions (Khedr & Alnuaimi, 2010).
  • Abu Dhabi Global Market Courts (ADGM) – This court is established in accordance with Abu Dhabi Law no (4) of 2013 that is broadly modeled in the English judicial system.

However, it can be said that both DIFC and ADGM does not have rights to provide jurisdiction in criminal matters.

Category of the legal system operating in the United Arab Emirates

In concern to the United Arab Emirates, it is identified that the country is operating the Islamic legal system. It is because the UAE is following the core principles of law that are drawn from Sharia.

In addition to this, it is seen that most of the legislation is comprised the civil law from Islamic and European concepts that was a common basis in the Egyptian legal code.

The legal system structure of UAE is complex due including dual courts like Sharia courts and civil courts.

.These courts are operating in parallel by covering different areas of the law i.e. each Emirate has own federal court in the UAE.  In addition, Dubai and Ras al Khaimah are also having their own frameworks for separate judicial.

In addition, World Health Organization, (2011) defied that the Legal System of UAE is based on the Sharia or Quranic Law where the constitutions define the Islam as the state religion and the principal source of law.

Conversely, it can be said that the criminal and civil laws are directly influenced by Sharia principles that confined to social laws like succession, divorce and family law.

The concept of the rule of law and detailed strength of the rule of law in the United Arab Emirates

The concept of the rule of law concerns about the control of public power through the law in order to protect the individual in the country.

In concern to the United Arab Emirates, it is identified that the rule of law is very strong in the country that provides the protection to the individual for their country as well as people living there from other countries.

The main strength of the rule of law in UAE is that it provides strong legality where people and government act as per the lows of the country (, 2019).


On the basis of the above study, it is concluded that the United Arab Emirates has a parliament that operates seven emirates.

In addition, the sources of law in the United Arab Emirates also identified where it primarily has legislation source from Islamic Sharia.

The court structure provides separate courts to the Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah and other five emirates have a supreme court.

Finally, the study concluded that Islamic category of the legal system is operating in the United Arab Emirates.


Brown, N.J., 2012. Constitutions in a nonconstitutional world: Arab basic laws and the prospects for accountable government. Suny Press.

Forstenlechner, I., Rutledge, E. and Alnuaimi, R.S., 2012. The UAE, the “Arab Spring” and Different Types of Dissent. Middle East Policy19(4), pp.54-67., 2019. The Federal Supreme Council. [Online] Available at: (Assessed 26 March 2019)

Grivna, M., Aw, T.C., El-Sadig, M., Loney, T., Sharif, A.A., Thomsen, J., Mauzi, M. and Abu-Zidan, F.M., 2012. The legal framework and initiatives for promoting safety in the United Arab Emirates. International journal of injury control and safety promotion19(3), pp.278-289.

Helen Ziegler and Associates, 2019. The Political System of the UAE. [Online] Available at: (Assessed 26 March 2019)

Khedr, A. A. & Alnuaimi, B., 2010. A Guide to United Arab Emirates Legal System. [Online] Available at: (Assessed 26 March 2019)

Mednicoff, D., 2012. The legal regulation of migrant workers, politics and identity in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Migrant labor in the Persian Gulf, pp.41-58.

Webb, M., 2010. Sharia as a Source of UAE Law. [Online] Available at: (Assessed 26 March 2019)

World Health Organization, 2011. Report of the first global meeting of the International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN), Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, 14-16 December 2010.

Zahlan, R.S., 2016. The origins of the United Arab Emirates: A political and social history of the Trucial States. Routledge.





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