Sheikh Mohammed forms special tribunal to resolve disputes over inherited property

Decision is aimed at protecting the rights of the elderly, minors, single women, divorced women, widows and people of determination

Dubai, United Arab Emirates - Reporter: N/A. Stock. Stock images of the Dubai skyline at sunset. Monday, March 15th, 2021. Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National

A special tribunal is being set up in Dubai to resolve disputes between heirs in relation to the sale of inherited residential property.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, issued a decree on Wednesday to form the tribunal to "protect the rights and interests of all concerned parties, especially the elderly, minors, femes sole, divorced women, widows and people of determination", a statement by the Dubai Media Office said on Wednesday.

The tribunal will adjudicate and issue rulings on all disputes between heirs over the sale of inherited residential property, it added, saying that all courts in Dubai, including the DIFC Courts, should no longer review petitions or appeals related to the sale of inherited property.

Members of the tribunal will include legal, financial and real estate experts. A president for the special tribunal will by announced by the chairman of Dubai's Judicial Council.

The latest ruling comes as the UAE streamlines its regulations in an effort to revive demand in the property market.

Sheikh Mohammed also issued a decree on Sunday dissolving a tribunal that was set up to deal with cheque disputes arising from property transactions.

The special tribunal will also adjudicate and issue rulings on appeals against decisions and procedures issued by the Dubai Land Department or the Mohammed bin Rashid Housing Establishment.

“If the act of partition of the inherited real property is impossible, or otherwise if the act of partition of the inherited real property will cause harm or significantly reduce the value of the property, the special tribunal may auction the inherited property and duly distribute the money between the heirs,” the statement said.

The special tribunal, which will abide by Sharia law, must protect the rights and interests of heirs in all its decisions, the statement said. It will not accept or review a case unless the petitioner submits a legal document proving the heirs could not reach an amicable settlement.

"This is an excellent move as it will save a lot of time on inheritance disputes with regard to properties," Devanand Mahadeva, head of the inheritance and personal law practice at Bestwins Law Corporation, told The National.

As Dubai follows Sharia law as a de facto process for inheritance, it creates multiple inheritors, including extended families, Mr Mahadeva added.

“More than the dispute among shareholders of a property, there are more complications in the sale of property where there are inherited shares for minors. This tribunal may be of help to solve issues related to that, too.”

He added that such a tribunal could also allay concerns of expatriate property purchasers in Dubai, “especially when there is an intestate inheritance to face”.

This decision will be active from its date of issuance and will be published in the UAE’s Official Gazette. All judgements, decisions and orders made by the special tribunal will be final and incontestable, the statement said.

“The establishment of the tribunal will ensure the interests of all heirs are protected, especially those who need more protection,” Mohammad Kawasmi, partner with the real estate practice at law firm Al Tamimi and Company, said. “This again proves that Dubai gives top priority to social values and family.”

Dubai also issued a new law in December last year governing unfinished and cancelled property projects in the emirate.

Under the law, a special tribunal will be set up to oversee the liquidation of unfinished and cancelled projects as well as the settling of related claims. It replaces an existing committee set up in 2013 that oversees claims related to cancelled projects.