UAE Legal System and the Common Legal System

Topic: Public Policies
Words: 876 Pages: 3

Dating from the early 1960s, the process of modernizing the Emirates’ legal systems entailed virtually replacing the previous system of justice, which was successfully ruled by the Sharia, with Western-inspired laws and institutions. The UAE has a charter of rights and freedoms, first formed as a transitional Constitution in December 1971 and was later made substantial by the Supreme Federal Council (Maunder, 2021). The UAE Constitution defines the UAE as a sovereign, autonomous, and federal republic. Each participant Emirate (seven) enjoys independence over its boundaries and surrounding seas in all issues not subject to the Federal Government’s jurisdiction under the Constitution.

The United States Constitution creates a federal government that is given particular authority under the Constitution. The states retain all power not assigned to the federal government. Each single state has its charter, government, legal system, and court. The United States Constitution sets up the federal government’s legal system and specifies the federal courts’ authority. Only some types of cases, such as those involving federal laws, interstate disputes, and actions involving foreign governments, have preferential sovereignty in federal courts (Henegan et al., 2021). Federal courts share authority with state courts in a few other areas. For example, state and federal courts may decide cases involving parties from different states.

The UAE government has undertaken scare campaigns against mainstream media organizations throughout the years. Journalists have been kidnapped, incarcerated, or penalized, and administrators and media companies have been questioned over alleged violations of unclear media legislation. The United Arab Emirates’ government regulates and restricts the national media and internet forms of social media (Freedom House, 2017). The country’s most notable journalists, scholars, and human rights advocates have been prevented from entering or reprimanded and imprisoned for exercising their right to freedom of speech online and offline.

Countries that practice a standard legal system create a democratic society, where the courts and the media play critical and complementary roles; freedom of the press is essential. The media agencies hold the authority to account, uphold individual rights, and shine a light on areas of public concern, but they also keep an eye on each other. The media has been portrayed as regulatory agencies of democracy, identifying democratic flaws and holding elected leaders accountable (Henegan et al., 2021). Furthermore, the courts have no greater job than to keep the government responsible when it breaks the statute and to protect individual rights since no right is more important than the right to freedom of expression.

In the United Arab Emirates, the country’s official religion is Islam, according to the Constitution. It protects religious freedom and will not contradict state policy or morals. It declares that all people are equal in the eyes of the law and forbids discrimination based on religious beliefs. Non-Muslims are prohibited from blasphemy and proselytizing under the legislation (“2020 Report on international,” 2021). Religious discrimination is not permitted under anti-discrimination laws, and activities that the government regards as inciting religious hatred or insulting faiths are criminalized.

As guaranteed in nations with a common legal system, religious freedom provides two complementary safeguards. They include the protection of spiritual practice and expression, as well as the assurance that the government will not favor religion over non-religion or specific beliefs over others (Henegan et al., 2021). These two safeguards complement each other, permitting religious freedom to flourish while protecting both religious faith and government from unwarranted interference from the other.

The UAE’s legal system is divided into three levels: the Court of First Instance, the Court of Appeal, and the Federal Supreme Court. All commercial, labor, administrative, civil, and individual status disputes are heard by the Court of First Instance. The Court of Appeal allows a petitioner who has been adversely impacted by the Court of First Instance to challenge their case to a higher court in compliance with the rules of the UAE’s criminal and civil legal provisions. The Federal Supreme Court is the highest judicial body in the country, with authority to hear appeals from the Court of Appeals (Noor et al., 2021). It is in charge of overseeing the formulation of laws and their appropriate application.

Although there are no national parties in the UAE, citizens’ political participation and engagement are growing. The President and Vice President are elected; however, only the Federal Supreme Council participates in the election; therefore, the general public has no say. The President appoints the council of ministers or cabinet (Noor et al., 2021). The Federal National Council has forty seats in the legislative body; the rulers of the seven Emirates nominate twenty representatives, and the remaining twenty are elected to four-year terms.

In the UAE legal system, public hearings are held for criminal and civil trials, but records and judgments are only available to the parties involved. However, in civil and criminal cases, the court may undertake the session in camera on its initiative or upon applying one of the parties to maintain public order, ethics, or family decency. At any stage of a civil or criminal case, no reporting is permissible (Noor et al., 2021). Final judgments are occasionally documented and compiled by the Technical Bureau of the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department after the parties’ identities have been removed. Still, no other bodies are permitted to create case reports.


2020 Report on international religious freedom: United Arab Emirates. (2021). U.S department of state. Web.

Freedom House. (2017). Freedom of the press 2017 United Arab Emirates. Ref world. Web.

Henegan, J. C., Kimball, B. C., Smith, C. (2021). Legal systems in the United States. Practical Law. Web.

Maunder, S. (2021). The government and political system in the UAE. Expatica. Web.

Noor, E. A., Jazmati, T., & Anani, Z. (2021). Legal systems in the United Arab Emirates. Practical Law. Web.

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