Decriminalization of Bounced Checks in UAE

The United Arab Emirates amended the Commercial Transaction Law in November 2021. The highlight of the amendment was the decriminalization of bounced cheques. The law came into force on 2nd February 2022. It is in line with the government’s strategic plan and initiatives to adopt international practices to build a sustainable economy.

On September 27, 2020, President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan issued Federal Decree-Law No. (14) of 2020 Amending Certain Provisions of Federal Law No. (18) of 1993 Concerning the Commercial Transaction Law. The law is elaborate and covers various commercial transactions in UAE. However, the key takeaway that affects businesses and individuals is some of the bounced cheque cases are decriminalized.

Now the question arises what happens to ongoing cheque bounce cases in the UAE. Can they benefit from this amendment? Apart from cases related to forgery or cheques issued in bad faith, this amendment does not invite criminal charges. Apart from Dubai, other emirates are yet to come out with any statement. The government of Dubai issued Circular No. 9 of 2021 to close all the pending cases related to bounced cheques. The circular was directed to police and public prosecution authorities. The circular indeed was a sign of relief to several people who have cheque bounce cases registered on them. The Dubai government also requested people to visit the police station or public prosecution office and formally give a request to remove their case. Once the case is removed, you can renew your visa or travel.

What else does the Public Prosecution circular say?

Several significances are mentioned in the circular containing the essential elements on how it may impact individuals involved in cheque bounce cases. It all depends on which stage of legal proceedings you are and your case must be registered in the Emirate of Dubai.

Here are some of the critical actions mentioned in the circular:

  • Criminal Complaints pending with the Police: Through the circular, the Dubai Attorney General’s office has also addressed the General Department of Criminal Investigation to intimate all the police stations to dismiss all the ongoing cheque bounce criminal complaints, which are eligible to be decriminalized under the new law. The police stations are advised to seize all warrants issued against the accused.
  • Criminal cases under investigation: For cases that are currently under investigation, the police are advised to formally close if the investigation is yet to commence. If the investigation in the case has commenced, the police are informed to stay it and issue confiscation of search warrants against the accused. The Dubai Attorney General also asked the Public Prosecution department to release the accused who are in detention. However, if the case is related to forgery, the investigation by Public Prosecution can continue.
  • Criminal cases with Court of First Instance: Through Dubai Public Prosecution offices, you can request for acquittal from the case if it relates to the crimes that are now decriminalized.
  • Criminal judgments that are not yet executed (not yet arrested): Through the court department, you can issue orders to stop the travel ban and lift all warrants.

If you have any pending cheque bounce cases in your name, you must seek legal guidance. There is a possibility you can be acquitted if your case falls within the decriminalized cheque bounces section. Our lawyers deal with several cheque bounce cases in UAE. You can book an appointment with our lawyers and discuss the status of your case. We are also available for online video calls and telephonic consultations.

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