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Non-Emirati Lawyers Permitted to Represent Clients in Abu Dhabi Civil Family Court

The new ruling applies exclusively to civil family court within Abu Dhabi Judicial Department

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Staff Writer, TLR

Published on June 13, 2024, 15:19:45

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non emirati lawyers can represent in abu dhabi civil family court

A landmark ruling now permits non-Emirati lawyers to represent clients in the Abu Dhabi Civil Family Court, a significant change from the previous restriction that allowed only Emirati lawyers to practice in the country’s courtrooms.

The new ruling is specific to the civil family court within the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department. Established in 2021, the Abu Dhabi Civil Family Court handles cases under a non-Sharia process, aligning the emirate with international legal practices.

"Abu Dhabi has made a historic move by allowing foreign lawyers to practice in its civil family courts without restrictions – a first in the region," said a legal expert.
He emphasised that this will enable expatriates to be represented by lawyers who speak their language and understand their cultural backgrounds, especially since the civil family court conducts proceedings in English.

A prominent lawyer commented: "It is logical to allow foreign lawyers to represent foreign clients, making the legal process more straightforward and effective. This change is expected to attract top international talent to the UAE, benefiting local talent as well. Local lawyers will gain opportunities to train with international law firms, and more top professionals will be drawn to live and work in Abu Dhabi," he added.

The new law has also led to the creation of a special register at the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department for foreign lawyers. To qualify, foreign lawyers must meet several criteria: proficiency in English, a clean criminal record and physical and mental fitness for their duties. They must also hold a law degree from a recognised institution and have at least 15 years of legal experience, among other conditions.

"The enactment (of Law Number 21 of 2024) is a groundbreaking step by the UAE government, formalising the inclusion of foreign lawyers in the court for the first time," said another lawyer.

He noted that this legislation acknowledges the efforts of practitioners who previously worked under special permissions and invites a diverse pool of international legal expertise to enhance the UAE’s legal system. "This move demonstrates the UAE’s commitment to embracing global perspectives and improving the quality of justice delivered in its courts," the lawyer added.

The integration of foreign lawyers will bring varied legal insights and experiences, benefiting families and individuals seeking justice. The new initiative will foster greater collaboration, innovation, and excellence within the legal community.

This resolution is part of a broader overhaul of the Abu Dhabi judicial system, which includes the establishment of an Abu Dhabi English notary bureau, the launch of a bilingual court and allowing foreigners to marry in a civil ceremony at the Abu Dhabi Court.

This progressive move enhances Abu Dhabi's judicial system by promoting inclusivity and acknowledging the multicultural nature of UAE society, providing expatriates with more options. Expats can now choose legal counsel who understands their case and speaks their language in court.

Having a wider choice of advocates, including both local and foreign lawyers, empowers clients who are often experiencing stressful times culminating in legal proceedings before the Abu Dhabi Civil Family Court.

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