Dubai issues new law on unfinished and cancelled building projects

A special tribunal will oversee the liquidation of unfinished and cancelled schemes, replacing a committee set up in 2013

Dubai skyline seen from Deyaar properties on Business Bay.
(Photo: Reem Mohammed/The National)

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Dubai ruler and UAE vice president Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid issued a new law governing unfinished and cancelled property projects in the emirate.

Under the law, a special tribunal is being set up to oversee the liquidation of unfinished and cancelled projects as well as the settling of related claims, according to a statement from the Dubai Media Office. It will replace an existing committee set up in 2013 that oversees claims related to cancelled projects.

Members of the new special tribunal will be appointed by the chairman of Dubai's Judicial Council.

"The tribunal will ... review and settle disputes and complaints arising from unfinished, cancelled or liquidated real estate projects," the statement said. It will also take up existing cases that the previous committee has not settled.

The new body will have jurisdiction over all property disputes in the emirate relating to unfinished or cancelled projects, meaning cases over stalled projects cannot be filed at the Dubai International Financial Centre Courts. Decisions made by the tribunal are "final and uncontestable", the statement said.

Where Dubai Land Department's Real Estate Regulatory Agency (Rera) has deemed a project to be cancelled, the tribunal will be responsible for liquidating the assets and will "define the rights of investors and purchasers". It also has the power to set up subcommittees, audit money trails and issue orders to holders of project funds in escrow accounts to make payments.

A second decree was also issued relating to the emirate's Interim Real Estate Register, which states that if a developer failed to start a property project for reasons beyond their control, or if it has been cancelled by Rera, the developer in question "must refund the entire amount paid by purchasers".

Both laws will become effective once published in the emirate's Official Gazette.

The introduction of the new laws is "very positive news", Elaine Jones, executive chairman of property consultancy Asteco, said.

They provide "a clear route for resolution of pending cases and assures new investors that their interests will be protected and resolved in an efficient manner", she added.