A UAE Corporate Law Primer

Law in the UAE

The UAE is a civil law country and, therefore, unlike common law jurisdictions, case law does not act as binding precedent, and the courts do not need to decide future cases based on a previous court’s decision.  You can opt for either the UAE “onshore” courts, the DIFC court system, arbitration, or courts from another jurisdiction. 

Civil law vs common law in the UAE

The UAE onshore courts operate using civil law, which does not have case law acting as the binding precedent. Proceedings are in Arabic and require qualified professionals. 

The DIFC courts offer an independent common law judiciary and have jurisdiction concerning various civil and commercial matters. Its proceedings are in English. 

uae law

uae law

Arbitration has long been a popular method of dispute resolution in the UAE. Since it allows for proceedings to occur in private, in a language of the parties’ choice and with arbitrators selected and approved per the relevant individual arbitrators’ organisation’s own rules. Parties to a contract can mutually agree upon their choice of arbitration forum including the ICC, DIA and DIFC LCIA (based on the rules of the London Courts of International Arbitrations). 

UAE Immigration Law 1

UAE Immigration Law 3


A person must receive sponsorship either based on owning a business or property in the UAE or an employment contract with a UAE-based employer to live there. The sponsorship requirements include obtaining a residence visa or work permit but nationals from certain countries may enter the UAE with a short visit visa issued upon arrival. You as an employer must process and obtain visas for your employees and then the process begins with the Government Relations Officer or PRO sending the requisite documents to the Labour/ Immigration offices to apply for the residency visa. Applicants must pass a medical exam upon approval of the documents, and should they pass the medical exam, the Ministry of Labour (“MOL”) then issues a labour card that identifies an employee and his/her place of work. To find out the details of the legal intricacies for your company within the UAE, download our free guide. 

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