The legal profession is regulated in United Arab Emirates under the UAE Federal Law No. 23 of 1991. Lawyers and other legal professionals are responsible for fulfilling the mission of justice with the judicial authorities. There are three rosters for lawyers maintained by the Ministry of Justice:
- Practicing Lawyers
- Non-practicing Lawyers
- Lawyers in Training
A person whose name is not entered in the roster for practicing lawyers cannot work as a lawyer in Abu Dhabi or any other emirate of the UAE. Lawyers in Abu Dhabi is a person has to fulfill the following conditions in order to have their name entered into the roster of practicing or non-practicing lawyers:
- They are citizens of the UAE.
- Their age is at least 23 years.
- They do not have any judicial ruling against them.
- They have a degree in Law or Sharia from a recognized university or higher institution.
- They have completed the training period.
In order to qualify for the roster for lawyers in training, a person has to fulfill all the above-mentioned requirements except the last one. After completing the training period of one year without interruption, a person becomes eligible for the roster of practicing lawyers. The Ministry of Justice pays a monthly stipend to the lawyers during their training period of two years.
If a person is not a citizen of the UAE and wants to practice law by getting their name entered into the roster for practicing lawyers, they have to fulfill the following conditions:
- Experience of fifteen years as a lawyer or working in the judicial field
- Legal resident in the UAE
- Practice law through the Bureau of national law, whose name is registered in the roster for practicing lawyers.
Non-national lawyers whose names are registered in the roster for practicing lawyers can practice before the courts of appeal and the courts of the first instance, however, they cannot practice before the Federal Supreme Court. In order to practice before the Federal Supreme Court, a lawyer has to be a national lawyer.
The lawyers who practice before the Federal Supreme Court have to take an oath before the department of the Federal Supreme Court before starting their profession. Similarly, the lawyers who practice before the other courts have to take an oath before the departments of the courts of appeal.
A lawyer whose name is registered in the roster for practicing lawyers cannot have the following positions or professions:
- Presidency or secretary of the government
- Presidency of the Parliamentary Body of UAE
- Any public or private position, other than national members of the Committee for Teaching Law or Sharia at a university.
In case a lawyer is involved in any of the above-mentioned professions or positions, the name will be transferred to the roster of non-practicing lawyers. The lawyers in Abu Dhabi are properly regulated and have a fixed set of rules and regulations that have to be followed. Therefore, a registered lawyer is fully equipped to handle all legal issues.
Law Firms in Dubai
Dubai is a favorable place for foreign investors for starting businesses because of its economic stability and encouragement of foreign direct investment. However, it is essential to have proper information regarding permits and licenses before considering any sort of investment in Dubai.
Leading law firms are attracted to Dubai due to its potential and growing demand for legal services. Investors from all over the world are attracted to Dubai, which has increased the need for Law Firms and Lawyers who can look after the interests of these foreign investors. Some factors which make Dubai an attractive location to start a law firm are:
- No tax policies
- Business-friendly regulations
- Policies for the security of assets
- Policies to ensure confidentiality
Lawyers in Dubai have the option to work as sole practitioners, in partnerships, or as part of a civil company, with a focus on:
- Corporate and commercial law
- Company establishment and registration
- Criminal law
- A Debt collection
- Insurance law
- Labour and employment
- Property law and real estate lawyers
- Banking Law
- Wills and Succession
- Bankruptcy Law
- Medical Malpractice
- Mergers and Acquisitions
There are two ways to open law firms in dubai. One way is to establish a partnership with a local lawyer who has a valid licence to practice in Dubai. The local lawyer should have at least a 51% stake in the business. In order to establish a business with 100% ownership, the business has to be established in a free trade zone in Dubai. These firms have to be registered with the Dubai Department of Economic Development and licensed by the Legal Affairs Department.
In order to practice law in Dubai, it is essential that a lawyer is registered with the Minister of Justice. In addition to the law firm, lawyers also have to get licensed by the Department of Legal Affairs to provide legal services outside the court. Lawyers who have the licence to practice law in the country cannot practice law or operate a law firm in all the emirates unless they get permission to practice locally in that region. The law firms which are established in a free trade zone in Dubai have to apply to the regulatory body of the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), known as the DFSA. The application to the DFSA includes the following:
- Business plan
- Details of employees, shareholders, and management
- Compliance systems including internal audit procedures and functions
- Procedures and controls for anti-money laundering
After the approval of the application, the DFSA needs the following to grant the licence:
- Registration with the DIFC Registrar of Companies
- Local bank account details along with proof of share capital deposit
- Evidence of availability of an office to conduct business
Law Firms in Dubai have a lot of potentials to grow and although it sometimes seems that the market is saturated by big firms, there are a lot of profitable legal functions which have proved fruitful for small firms.