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Reciprocal Enforcement of Financial Orders
Legal Articles: UAE Family Law
By Mr. Hassan Elhais - Legal Consultant in Dubai
The UAE is not a signatory to REMO. Nevertheless, foreign financial orders can be enforced
within the UAE however, there can be difficulties as set out below. Enforcement of a foreign
order initially requires the commencement of an ‘attestation case,’ this is loosely an application
for a mirror order. Under s.235 of the Civil Code, foreign orders may be enforced in the UAE by
applying the laws of the foreign country within the local courts.
The provisions are as follows:
1. The execution of the decisions and orders delivered in a foreign country may be
authorized in the state of the UAE under the same conditions decided in the laws of that
2. The execution order shall be requested before the Court Of First Instance in which area
the execution is required, and it shall not be possible to order the execution before the
verification of the following:
That the state’s courts are not authorized to examine the litigation in which the decision
or the order has been delivered and that the foreign courts which have delivered it are
authorized to do so.
That the decision/ order has been delivered from an authorized court according to the
law of the country in which it has been issued.
That the litigant parties in the action in which the foreign decision has been delivered,
have been assigned to attend and have been properly represented
That the decision/ order has acquired the power of the decided order according to the
law of the court which delivered it.
e. That it does not conflict with a decision or an order delivered previously from a court
in the state, nor does it include what breaches the morals or the public order therein
In summary of the above, foreign financial orders can be enforced in the Dubai courts if:
The Dubai courts did not have jurisdiction to deal with the original litigation
The English order was produced by a competent court using the laws of England and
Both parties were given notice of the hearing and attended or were represented
That the court had the jurisdiction to make the orders that it did
The order does not conflict with orders previously made by the Dubai courts, and the
orders do not breach public order or morals
Once the attestation case has been carried out, the resulting mirror order could be enforced
through an execution case. The UAE courts have very wide powers of enforcement for
1. Attachment of earnings: the judge may make an order that the employer disclose details
of the husband’s salary and bonuses, then make an order that the maintenance owed is
paid from the salary.
2. Enquiry of banks, or traffic and land departments: the judge can order an enquiry to
determine whether, for example, a respondent has funds in their bank account to pay a
lump sum, or a car or property that could be sold to meet an outstanding debt.
3. Freezing bank accounts: an order may be made to freeze a bank account if the judge
believes that the respondent is likely to dissipate assets to avoid meeting their
obligations under the original order.
4. Seizing goods: to ensure the repayment of a debt, a judge may order the seizure of
property or other goods. The executive judge may transfer the matter to the executive
judge of another court, in whose jurisdiction the property lies (for example in another
5. Imprisonment: this is likely if the respondent shows a willful refusal to pay despite being
able to afford to, or if the judge fears that they will flee the country. Imprisonment can
only be for a period of less than three years. Imprisonment does not negate the need for
the respondent to meet the terms of the original order.
6. Travel ban: the judge can make an order preventing the respondent from leaving the
Once a mirror order has been obtained, it can be retained for future enforcement as required
and used on more than one occasion.
If during the process of finalizing a financial agreement outside the UAE, it is anticipated that it
may be necessary for the agreement/ order to be enforced within the UAE also, it is advisable
to take precautionary measures. Either the parties could cooperate to obtain a mirror order in
the UAE through an attestation case, or a cheaper option is for an agreement to be drafted in
similar terms and put by both parties before the Reconciliation Committee of the UAE, resulting
in an enforceable judicially approved document.
Financial relief after foreign divorce proceedings
What powers are available to make orders following a foreign divorce?
There are no specific statutory provisions dealing with financial provision after a foreign
divorce. It would be for one party to rely on an order made by a foreign court (e.g. through an
attestation then execution case), and the other party to put why it should not be enforced.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Hassan Elhais
After qualifying as a lawyer in his native Egypt and years of successful practice within the field
of criminal and public law, Mr. Elhais moved to Dubai in 2005 and has been practicing as a legal
consultant in Dubai since then. Working exclusively with Al Rowaad Advocates, Hassan is an
effective leader of the company, the spokesperson and driving force. Hassan has a strong
ethical stance with regards to the place of the law firm and its work on behalf of the client,
from clarity on the legal process through to the fee system.
Specializing in the drafting of all statement of claim, memos and consultation with regards to all
kind of litigation, Hassan has worked his way through the ranks of Al Rowaad Advocates from
joining as Legal Advisor to his current role as Managing Partner. Member of Egypt Bar
Association; Member of International Bar Association; and Recommended Lawyer of Embassy
of United States in Abu Dhabi.
Copyright Hassan Elhais
For more information about Hassan Elhais – Legal Consultant in Dubai