Since the issuance of the Cabinet Resolution No. (57) of 2018 concerning the Executive Regulations of Federal Law No. (11) of 1992 on the Civil Procedure Law on 9 of December 2018 simultaneously with the new amendments on the Civil Procedures Law via Federal Decree Law No. (18) and controversy has been speeded among law firms in UAE for the possibilities of declining the scope of their work and inclining companies to be represented through their in - house consultants before UAE Courts as per the recent Regulation.
Prior to the issuance of the Executive Regulation, nature person in UAE were represented before the courts by themselves, their spouses, in-laws or persons related to them up to the fourth degree otherwise by the licensed lawyer, while legal person were represented either by the manager of the entity or the licensed lawyer (law firm).
The New Executive Regulation came to change these rules, where Article 26 of the same stipulates “On the day scheduled for the Lawsuit to be heard before the Case Management Office or the Court, as the case may be, the parties shall appear in propria persona or through a Lawyer, a relative up to the fourth degree, or through an Attorney-in-fact from among their employees in case the party is a private legal person”.
This means that in house legal consultants and attorneys will be able to attend before the courts and represent companies, as consequence a sever fall of firm’s clients would be expected once the Regulation became effective. Companies which have in-house lawyers will be able to save the professional fees for legal firms and being represented directly through its in- house legal counsels.
Thus, law firms have filed law suits to defend its interest and invalidate the new Executive Regulation before the Federal Court. The firms argued that their rights shall not be jeopardized in light with the New Regulation, where the right given by the legislator as per Articles 20 of Federal Law No. 23 Concerning Organizing Legal Profession issued on 1991 stipulates “Observing the rulings of Article 6 and 10 of this law, it shall be permitted for persons concerned to appoint as their agent to appear before the courts, arbitration committees and judicial and administrative councils, their spouses, in-laws or persons related to them up to the fourth degree.”.
While the New Executive Regulation is an administrative decision, not a law, issued by the Federal Cabinet, therefore it shouldn’t be in contrary with the rules of Federal Law Organizing Legal Profession, the matter which constitute violation of the hierarchy of laws.
Law firms in their plea have relied as well on Article 21 of Law No. 23 Profession which stipulates “It shall not be permitted for anyone other than lawyers admitted to plead before the Federal Supreme Court to appear before it on behalf of parties to the case, not to submit applications, contestations, or case papers.”. The Licensed lawyer claims in their plea that Article 23 of the of the Execution Regulation might supersede Article 21 of Legal Profession Law, and in house lawyers would attend before the Federal Supreme Court.
Federal Court has several options, ranging from suspending the enforcement of the Executive Regulation, invalidate only Article 26 or invalidate the Executive Regulation in its entirety, yet it is certain that its judgment will have effect on legal profession in UAE and the future function of the practicing law firms for the forthcoming years.