1. Is your jurisdiction primarily a common law, civil law, customary law or theocratic law jurisdiction? Are the laws substantially derived from the laws of another jurisdiction and, if so, which? What instruments have legal force and effect? Who are the lawmaking bodies? How and where are new laws published? Can laws be passed with retrospective effect?
United Arab Emirates
The legal system of the United Arab Emirates is based on a number of sources, including the Federal Constitution, federal legislation, local emirate laws and regulations, Islamic sharia law, and custom and practice. The laws in the UAE are based on the Egyptian and French civil legal systems. There are also separate ‘Offshore’ jurisdictions, which are based on a common law regime, including the Dubai International Financial Centre and Abu Dhabi Global Market.
Federal laws are drafted by the relevant Ministry(s) and the Minister of Justice. The draft law then undertakes a review process involving the Federal National Council and the Council of Ministers and once approved, is submitted to the President for review and to the Supreme Council for ratification. It is then signed by the President of the UAE.
Pursuant to article 111 of the UAE Federal Constitution, laws are published in the Official Gazette of the Union within two weeks of their signature (unless otherwise stated in the law). Article 112 of the UAE Federal Constitution provides that a law shall not have retrospective effect. However, there are exceptions and an individual law may stipulate such retrospective effect, for example, when it concerns matters of public policy.
Separate from the federal laws, each emirate is permitted to maintain its own legislative body, which may legislate within its jurisdiction. The laws passed by each emirate also have legal effect within the jurisdiction. Emirates are not permitted to legislate on certain specific matters that remain within the jurisdiction of the federal authorities, for example, matters pertaining to public health, defence, education.Answer contributed by James Willn, Sachin Kerur, Michelle Nelson, Laura Adams, Chris Edwards and Finlay Donaldson
Reed Smith LLP