The United Arab Emirates, particularly Dubai, is without a doubt one of the world’s primary business hubs today. Irrespective of the nature or scale of the organization you are considering, this country has evolved into a fantastic location with numerous opportunities. Being the commercial hub of the middle east, Dubai attracts many visitors and even businesses every year who require legal assistance at every stage of their venture. The increase in law firms in Dubai over the past years is proof of it. So if you are considering starting a law firm in Dubai then surely read along.
Understanding The Legal System of the UAE
In the UAE, there are two types of courts: civil courts and Sharia courts. A distinctive federal court governs and guides each Emirate of the UAE. The Supreme Court is located in Abu Dhabi.
Three levels of court
To ensure full justice, the UAE has 3 levels of the court system for lawsuit purposes. This system allows the aggrieved party to contest the lawsuit and display additional evidence within the legal parameters. In the UAE, the courts have the following degrees:
- Court of First Instance
- Court of Appeal
- The Court of Cassation (at the local level of the emirates) and the Federal Supreme Court (at the federal level)have independent judicial departments.
If the Court of First Instance’s decision is not acceptable, it can be appealed to the Court of Appeal, and then to the Court of Cassation.
Judicial circuits are divisions of the courts based on specialization and jurisdiction. Each level of the court has a circuit that investigates different types of cases, such as personal status cases, criminal prosecutions, and civil cases. The classification is related to the scope of the case and the judges’ expertise. Each court is presided over by a president who is assisted by a judge or a group of judges as well as administrative staff. Each court also has judicial circuits for personal status, labor, criminal, civil, commercial, and real estate.
Who are Practicing Lawyers?
A lawyer from another Arab Gulf Cooperation Council country may obtain a license to practice and appear in Dubai courts under certain conditions. Lawyers must be licensed to practice law in federal courts by the Ministry of Justice and the Emiri Diwan in the other Emirates.
Only practicing lawyers get to offer legal assistance in the UAE. There are certain conditions to be met to acquire the practicing certificate:
- be at least 21 years old
- be a UAE national
- have a certificate from an accredited university or higher institute, and
- have completed at least a year of uninterrupted practical legal experience
Previously, expatriate Arab lawyers could practice in federal courts, but the overall trend now is to limit such practice to qualified UAE Citizens. Only local lawyers are permitted to appear in court, whereas foreign lawyers are permitted to practice law. Only registered lawyers may attend and appear in litigation and federal supreme courts. Lawyers need an individual office in each emirate of the UAE to practice law in the country, whereas the main Dubai has Rulers Court freedom.
Opening Your Own Law Firm in Dubai
To start a law firm business setup in Dubai, you must first form a partnership with a local lawyer who owns at least 51 percent of the company and has a law license valid in at least the First Instance Court. You may alternatively establish the business in one of Dubai’s free trade zones. To obtain a license from the Ministry of Justice, you must have a law degree.
Naming Your Firm
When naming your company, keep in mind that the UAE has its own set of peculiar standardizations. As a general rule, when considering company formation in UAE, your company name should not contain any inappropriate or profane language, nor should it make reference to any well-known organizations or corporations. If you are including your personal name in your business name, it must be in its entirety. This means no usage of abbreviations or just your initials. You must also ensure that your desired business name is not used by anyone else and is unique.
Location for your business
Now you must decide whether a free zone or a mainland location is best for your company. Each configuration has advantages. If you set up shop on the mainland, you can trade directly with the local market without the assistance of a local agent and take part in the bidding of government contracts. If you establish your business in a free zone, you will be exempt from all customs duties. Business owners in UAE free zones have complete freedom to secure all investments made. There are no currency controls or restrictions in place. Fujairah Creative City is a highly sought-after free zone location by top law firms in Dubai. Your firm must be situated in a region of 40 square feet at least.
Getting the Legal License
The first step in starting a business is to obtain a reasonable permit. This permit is obtained from the UAE Ministry of Justice (United Arab Emirates). A business permit is required for a law office in the DIFC, and it must be registered with the Dubai Financial Services Authority. Whether you have selected a free zone setup, you must apply for a license with the pertinent managing authority. If you have decided to stay on the mainland, you must apply to the Dubai Department of Economic Development(DED) or the equivalent in your chosen emirate. Included documents:
- registration form completed
- Photocopy of the owner(s)’ passport
- Two passport-sized color photos
Registering your Law Firm
Now you get to register your company with the appropriate authorities. If your company intends to provide legal advice, you should be qualified. As part of your application, you must be able to demonstrate these qualifications to the Dubai Legal Affairs Department. When submitting your application, you will typically be asked to provide:
- A photocopy of your professional license
- A copy of your current certificate of practice
- The relevant authority issues a letter of good standing
- Copies of passports for each advocate or legal professional on your team
Professionals such as engineers, doctors, architects, stockbrokers, and insurance brokers were previously required to have insurance coverage in the event they were sued. Lawyers will now be covered by professional indemnity insurance, a first in Dubai for the legal profession. Experts believe that this insurance will raise the cost of these professionals’ services. According to a Ruler’s Court decree in Dubai, all of the above will not be able to renew their licenses or practice in the emirate unless they have been protected by a professional indemnity policy.
While establishing a firm can really be a thrilling decision a person can make in his life, the freedom of making this decision comes with a number of risks and consequences of errors that must be considered as legal consultants in Dubai. Setting up a business entails several legal processes and documentation, as well as the involvement of various government agencies and third parties to ensure that the company begins and operates in accordance with UAE law. At A&A Associate, we have 15+ years of experience in company formation and are adept in the latest regulations that govern UAE laws. Our team of professionals is always eager to help you set up your dream business in the UAE.