English Translation now Essential for Abu Dhabi Courts

The Abu Dhabi Judicial Department (ADJD) has recently applied new legislation that requires plaintiffs in both civil, and commercial cases, to translate all files from Arabic to English, for those defendants who do not speak Arabic.

Previously, any documentation that was presented to the court was offered in Arabic only, and as a result many defendants had to have their necessary papers, statements, transcripts, and so on, translated into English, or their native tongue.

According to the Khaleej Times, the new legislation, which came into effect in early November, will only apply to commercial, or civil cases, where the complainant is usually suing for an amount of money from the defendant. The changes don’t apply to criminal or labour courts, and, at present, only English translations are required.

The legal system in the UAE has recently come under fire from the UK, for the quality of their translations, and the rights of defendants.

According to an article by the BBC, there have been investigations undertaken by a UN official in 2014, which highlighted some “serious shortcomings” in the UAE’s legal procedures.

These included a report on the “Independence of Judges and Lawyers” which suggested “serious breaches of fair trial and due process guarantees”, and also that interpretation and translation during court cases were “not always provided in practice, or that their quality was poor.”

This new legislation, implemented under the direction of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs and chairman of the ADJD, can be seen as a step in the right direction by the UAE in improving the judicial system for non-nationals in the region.

There have also been training courses provided for lawyers and law firms, in a bid to inform them of the new rule, and to ensure it is correctly enforced.

Officials have suggested that adding the English language to court files will increase transparency, simplify the litigation process, and improve comprehension for non-Arabic defendants.

The new changes should give more clarity in litigation cases, where non-native UAE defendants once had to negotiate sub-standard translations, and ensure that they can understand the charges made against them.

The ADJD have plans to further enhance the services they offer in an effort to achieve the Abu Dhabi government’s 2030 vision, which aims to increase foreign investment in the region, and make the UAE a top destination for skilled workers.

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