Wednesday, October 29, 2008

UAE legal system from global perspective

Although the core principles of law in the UAE are drawn from Sharia, most legislation is comprised of a mix of Islamic and European concepts, which have a common root in the Egyptian legal code established in the late 19th to 20th centuries. The French influence is most clearly demonstrated by the adoption of the civil law systems by most countries in the region similar to those in European states, rather than the common law system in the UK.

Civil law systems rely primarily on statute law (and often a written constitution) and detailed codifications of this; this influence of case law and precedent, or previous decisions made by the court, that is central to the interpretation of statute law in a common law system, is minimal. Instead, in addition to specific legal legislation covering agencies, company law, labour law, and intellectual property, the UAE has enacted civil and commercial codes that embody the basic principles of these laws. Although the system has lead to the development of comprehensive and structured legal systems, these are rigid and inflexible to some degree, and this constitutes the bureaucracy of regulation that is associated with countries in the Middle East region as a whole.

The structure of the legal system is complex with both dual courts, Sharia courts and civil courts operating in parallel, but covering different areas of the law. For example in the UAE, each Emirate has its own federal court of first instance, although Dubai and Ras al Khaimah have their own separate judicial frameworks

All laws are published in Arabic, in the official gazette, which is equivalent to the statute book in the UK. Although English transactions of some laws are available, these are not official translations. All documentation submitted to the court or issued by them is in Arabic, and all court proceedings are conducted in Arabic, making good business for translation services.

Although published in Arabic, contractual documentation can be executed in English, provided the necessary formalities are observed, for example registering with the appropriate ministry. However, when registering official documentation, an Arabic translation will often have to be submitted at the same time. Contracts are equally valid in both languages, although sometimes it is stated that Arabic will be the main source in case of confusion. If documents need to be submitted to a court, it has to be in Arabic.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Legal issues for bloggers ; Beware!

The Overview of Legal Liability Issues FAQ briefly addresses some common legal issues that affect you as a publisher, especially situations where you may face legal claims or threats based on information you published on your blog.

What should I do if I get sued for what I blogged?
You should contact an attorney (if you don't know an attorney, EFF may be able to help you find one). If the statement at issue is protected speech, you may be entitled to move to strike the complaint under your state's Anti-SLAPP laws.
How do I know if I am being SLAPPed?
SLAPP stands for Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, and the Anti-SLAPP laws are designed to help people sued for legitimate, protected speech made about public issues. If you are sued because you wrote about an issue of public interest or concern, you may have been SLAPPed. The First Amendment Project has an excellent FAQ on Anti-SLAPP laws. Note that Anti-SLAPP laws don't exist in every state, and they vary quite a bit among states, so this may not be available to everyone.
Can EFF defend me?
Maybe. EFF is a small, grassroots legal advocacy nonprofit supported by member contributions. We provide pro bono (free) legal assistance in cases where we believe we can help shape the law. Unfortunately, we have a relatively small number of very hard-working attorneys, so we do not have the resources to defend everyone who asks, no matter how deserving. If we cannot assist you, we will make every effort to put you in touch with attorneys who can. If you're in trouble, you can contact us at
We also encourage you to review and use our extensive web archive of legal documents at You may download any of our legal filings.
I'm not in the United States - do these FAQs apply to me?
No. This legal guide is based on the laws in the United States, where there is a strong constitutional protection for speech. Many other countries do not have strong protections, making it easier to sue for speech. (See, for example, the BBC's guide, How to Avoid Libel and Defamation.) However, US courts are reluctant to enforce foreign judgments that would restrict your freedom of speech. So if you are sued in the United Kingdom for defamation, you might lose your UK case, but the winner would have a hard time collecting in the United States.

If you know of a similar guide for your own jurisdiction or feel inspired to research and write one, please let us know. We can link to it here. We don't have the expertise or resources to speak to other countries' legal traditions, but we'd like to work with those who do.
Do the laws vary from state to state?
Yes. While the Constitution and federal laws, such as copyright law or Section 230, apply nationwide, many laws that affect bloggers vary from state to state. For example, defamation, reporter shield laws, and privacy laws are defined by each state (within constitutional boundaries).
What legal liability issues can arise from my blog?
Generally, you face the same liability issues as anyone making a publication available to the public, and receive the same freedom of speech and press protections. The main legal liability issues include:
  • Defamation
  • Intellectual Property (Copyright/Trademark)
  • Trade Secret
  • Right of Publicity
  • Publication of Private Facts
  • Intrusion into Seclusion

Click here for more info....