UAE allows accused and victim to settle criminal matters amicably
An out-of-court settlement in criminal cases is a reconciling procedure that provides a faster settlement opportunity to resolve matters amicably. Under the aegis of prosecution, both the victim and the accused can benefit from this provision. This provision was one of the amendments issued through Federal Decree-Law No. 17/2018. According to the new law, the procedure aims to end the dispute in a criminal matter amicably. The process in legal terms is called Penal Reconciliation.
The amendment is an effort to keep pace with the changing times. It may also help in faster procedures and minimize the chances of jail punishment for people accused of minor criminal offenses.
What does the law say?
Section 2 of Federal Decree-Law No. 17/2018 has nine articles solely related to Penal Reconciliation. This significant amendment allows the parties in criminal law to try for reconciliation even after the verdict is passed. It helps both parties successfully resolve the matters with the help of Public Prosecution or the Criminal Court. If the successful Penal reconciliation occurs, the criminal case is considered closed. In cases where the judgement is already passed, the execution of the verdict is ordered to stay. Let’s look at what provisions are provided under different Articles in this amendment.
Article 346: It provides Public Prosecution or the criminal courts to execute the reconciliation procedure between the victim and accused party.
Article 347: It provides a comprehensive list of specific crimes that may be permitted for Penal Reconciliation. Most of them outlined in this article are either misdemeanours or violations. The list is exhaustive and covers several minor criminal offenses. Below is the list of crimes that may be considered for the reconciliation process:
- Physical Assault
- Family dispute cases
- Defamation cases
- Some types of threat and blackmail cases
- Recording conversation without permission
- Fraud cases
- Breach of trust
- Breach of confidentiality
- Breach of privacy
- Using vehicles without the consent of the owner
- Non-payment of hotel bills
The Article also states there is no deadline for the reconciliation. It can occur at any stage of a criminal case, even after the court gives the verdict. However, Article 349 states that both parties must settle within 15 days once the process is initiated.
Article 348: It provides the accused party, his specific agents, heirs, or the specific agents of the heirs to initiate the reconciliation. The accused or the concerned party can record the reconciliation in a document and get it notarized by a competent public notary. It also requires the victim’s signature or his heirs or his specific agents.
Article 349: It provides the prosecution the right to initiate the reconciliation before the case goes into court. The prosecution grants both parties to come to settlement terms in 15 days. However, the prosecutor also has the right to grant a grace period (15 days) if both parties fail to achieve reconciliation in the initial stages. If both parties or one of them still refuses to settle, then the prosecutor must refer the case to criminal courts.
Article 350: The article states when the parties or their heirs fail to reach a settlement within the specified deadline, the case is referred to the court. However, if they mutually agree on settlement terms before court procedure, the prosecutor requires to issue a report. The report contains the procedure followed and the decision of the Penal Reconciliation. It needs to be signed by both parties or their representatives. The report is then submitted to the court.
Article 351: The article states if parties reconcile before the criminal court, the court shall record the reconciliation in minutes of the hearing. Both the parties or their representative need to sign the agreement. However, the judgement at that point of time must not be conclusive.
Article 352: According to Article 352, the settlement of the criminal cases must be fast-paced. The law adopts a humanitarian approach and allows the victim to file a civil lawsuit and get compensated for his or her losses. As long as the settlement in the criminal court does not have the clause of “waving the right to claim for civil compensation”, the victim can file a case in civil court.
Article 353: Article 353 states that all the victims associated with the case must fully agree upon the settlement terms. It should not be partial where one or more victims disagree with the terms of the reconciliation. It says even if one of the victims refuses to settle, the case must be taken to court. In the case where there are more than one accused and one victim, if the victim reconciles or drops the charges with one of them, the reconciliation is extended to the other accused as well. If such a settlement is reached after the judgement by the criminal court, it can stop the execution of the judgement. Still, the sentence remains permanently in the accused’s criminal record.
All the amendments introduced in recent years indicate the ambition of the UAE to become a more tolerant country. Federal Law No. 17 of 2018 was also one such step in the direction to ease the burden of the courts and faster resolution of minor crimes. In the past couple of years, the Penal Reconciliation played a significant role in a settlement in handling criminal matters.
Our expert criminal lawyers in UAE strongly believe the approach to pursuing a settlement in minor criminal offenses has positively impacted both victims and criminals. Though it appears as an out-of-court settlement, it is conducted under the criminal courts. If you also want a speedy and quicker solution for misdemeanour and violation cases, please get in touch with us. We can guide you on how you can resolve your criminal case amicably without much trouble.