Dubai is on the verge of being the first country in the GCC to implement a dual court system for Muslims and non-Muslims via DIFC. This concept has been successfully demonstrated in countries like Singapore since 1958 and will be a welcome addition to the culturally diverse community of Dubai.
Currently the Dubai court system can be a very complex process for expats. There is no precedent in Dubai, leaving the Dubai court system a very uncertain arena for expats, the outcomes may depend on the judge sitting on the day. On top of this the whole process takes place in Arabic.
Sharia law is the prevailing jurisdiction in Dubai and the UAE which tends to work beautifully for those of Muslim faith who may all live in the same country or the same house and want to share their wealth to all family members. Where this gets tricky is for expats who want to leave their assets or wealth to just their spouse or children. Currently as an expat here in the UAE Sharia law will be applied to you even if you are not of Muslim faith. You can however appeal this decision and get your assets divided according to your last will and testament but as you can imagine this is a long and costly process. So even if you have taken steps to get a Will put in place there are still many hoops that will have to be jumped through.
With over 70% of the population in the UAE being expats, DIFC started to think of a way that they could create a new system for non-Muslim’s to effectively opt out of the Sharia jurisdiction and opt into a much simpler expat friendly system. How will this work?
1. The DIFC system is only for non-Muslims
2. The Will can only currently be applied to Dubai based assets allowing non-Muslims to pass on their estate according to their wishes
3. The Will must be registered at the DIFC by making an online appointment
4. All Wills will be filed in an electronic version by the DIFC
5. The court system will be in English
6. A separate document can be created for guardianship and registered.
7. A soft online launch of the process will launch online at the end of March followed by a hard launch in May.
This is a very exciting time for Dubai legislation, however implementing a new court system will not be a smooth journey. Please remember that things can and probably will change along the way as the fine details are ironed out. Please keep checking the Finsbury Associates website www.finsbury-associates.com for updates as the new system unfolds.
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