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Tuesday 18 June ,2019

The National Archives Reviews the Historical Development of the Judiciary in the UAE

In its Latest Publications, The National Archives Reviews the Historical Development of the Judiciary in the UAE

The UAE has witnessed a tremendous development in the various fields, including legislation. Since its establishment in 1971, the Ministry of Justice has enacted hundreds of laws, which comprehensively transformed all aspects of life.

As the history of the judiciary in the United Arab Emirates represents the history of the state since its inception, the National Archives published The Historical Development of the Judiciary in the UAE Between The Tribal Lores and Secular Systems, by Dr. Rashid Mohammed Obaid Rushoud. The book documents the history of the judiciary and its development using the available documents in the Ministry of Justice, the documents in the civil and Shari'a court records, the documents in the National Archives, and the agreements concluded between the Government of the UAE and other governments.

Since its inception, the UAE has been interested in establishing justice and independence of the judiciary, and this concept has been further confirmed in its constitution which stipulated that, in performing their duties, judges shall be independent and shall not be subject to any authority other than the rule of law and their own conscience. The UAE’s judiciary is independent from the legislative and executive branches of government.

The book points out that the judiciary enjoys a high level of respect and prestige in human societies, and whoever worked in the judiciary is held in high esteem for the significant role played in restoring rights in societies that are not free from conflict between the good and the evil and between the strong and the weak.

The book consists of six chapters and a conclusion. Chapter I is entitled: Judiciary in Islam; it examines the stages of the development and independence of the judiciary. It starts with the judiciary in the era of the Prophet, and then in the era of the Righteous Caliphs, up to the Umayyad and the Abbasid eras. Chapter II deals with the tribal judiciary, its structure, its rules and its most important judges in the UAE during the British presence (1946-1971). It also highlights the jurisdiction and influence of the British Courts in the UAE. Chapter III deals with lore judiciary and its renowned judges, sources, procedures, rules and characteristics. Chapter IV discusses the judiciary after establishing the Union, the methods of judicial selection, besides the Attorney General, lawyers, experts, clerks and bailiffs. It also sheds light on courts and lawsuits. Chapter V deals with the Ministry of Justice during the reign of the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan and its successive ministers, activities, and affiliated departments, directorates and courts. Chapter VI lists the legislations as well as the judicial relations and agreements between the United Arab Emirates and the Arab and foreign countries. In fact, the book included some Arab and foreign documents.

The book defines the judicial system in plain language and terminology, and underscores the definition of judiciary given by Ibn Abdeen: “The judiciary is the ‎settlement of disputes, resolving them through the legal provisions taken from the Quran and the Sunnah”, The objective of the judiciary is the attainment of interests and benefits, and elimination of evil and harm; hence some Sharia scholars underscored the great purpose and noble goal of this eminent domain. It is based on the delivery of rights to their owners and the resolution of grievances and disputes with aim of achieving justice.

The book considers that the history of the judiciary in Dubai represents the history of Dubai itself. One of the judges in Dubai to whom the book points out is Sheikh Khamis, a dignified judge, who had gone to Al-Hasa to study Sharia siences and returned to Dubai during the regime of Sheikh Maktoum Bin Hasher Bin Maktoum Bin Butti, who took power during 1884-1906. Hassan Al Khazraji succeeded him and took over the judiciary; he used to carry out his duties of reconciling opponents from his home in Al-Ras area in Deira. After his death, the judiciary was assumed by Mohammed Bin Abdulsalam Al Maghribi, a sheikh who arrived in Dubai from the Arab Maghreb. Thus, judges successively continued to adjudicate from their homes until conditions changed, so Al-Ahmadiya School became their judiciary premises up until 1938, when the Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Saeed Bin Maktoum Al Maktoum assigned his brother, Sheikh Hashr Bin Maktoum Al Maktoum to adjudicate disputes between people. He managed his duties from a shop in Al-Arsa market in Deira. Thus, people would first go to him for reconciliation and settlement of their complaints, but whenever he could not settle their disputes, he would refer them to judges. This practice continued until Sheikh Mohammed Bin Hasher Bin Maktoum Al Maktoum was appointed as Judicial Superintendent in 1956, and it was a sign of a new phase in judiciary as a new house had been hired for judicial practice in Al-Ras area. In 1958, Naif fort had been assigned as Judicial department of Dubai until the end of 1979.

The book lists the most important figures in tribal judiciary in the Emirates during the British presence, and it gives a glimpse on the jurisdiction of the British courts in the Trucial States.

The book outlines the basis and principles of lore laws, lore judges, types of judiciary, court headquarters, judicial procedures and the settlement of disputes. It defines litigation procedures by appearing before the judge and the judicial evidence, which comprises of confession, which is the best piece of evidence, then testimony, oath, tracing. It also mentions the judicial procedures which includes the sources of governance and judiciary, and sources of lore in the traditional society of the Emirates.

The book reviews some of the public cases and dispute settlement, which include the distribution of Aflaj water and farm borders, camels and sheep, and blood lawsuits and cases related to pearl-diving.

Regarding the judiciary in the United Arab Emirates, the book points out that Islamic law is the main source of legislation in the UAE. According to the Federal Constitution, the judicial system is made up of the Supreme Court and Courts of First Instance. It refers to the methods of judicial selection and conditions of appointment as well as the public prosecution department, its role and conditions of appointment. Furthermore, it discusses the conditions of law-practice and the duties of lawyers, besides experts, clerks, bailiffs and translators.

The book refers to Abu Dhabi Judicial Department, which was established in 1974, and to the Court of Cassation, the Court of Appeal and the Courts of First Instance. Besides, it deals with the prosecution, namely Public Prosecution, Cassation Prosecution, Appeal Prosecution, Major Prosecutions. It also elucidates the state of the judiciary in the UAE.

The book sheds lights on the Ministry of Justice during the reign of Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan (1971-2004) and shows that he was a great advocate of justice. He was known for standing by rights and implementing justice for the poor and the vulnerable. The best example for that was the irrigation case when some rich people attempted to abuse the poor people exploiting their money to control the ownership of water.

The book indicates that the Ministry of Justice, Islamic Affairs and Awqaf (Endowments) of the UAE adopts Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan’s saying: “Our goal in life is to achieve justice, be morally right and support the weak against the strong” as a slogan from which it will never deviate, Allah willing.

The book: The Historical Development of the Judiciary in the UAE Between The Tribal Lores and Secular Systems

Publisher: National Archives, Abu Dhabi, 2018, 1st Edition, 428 pages of large size.

Author: Dr. Rashid Mohammed Obaid Rushoud