Blood money in the UAE: what is it and who pays it?

Expert says payment does not necessarily mean that a prison sentence will be avoided

In the UAE, the amount for blood money is set at Dh200,000, but the actual compensation amount is dependent on a lawyer’s ability to show and clarify to the judge the extent of the injuries caused to the victim or suffering to the deceased's family in the event of death. Alamy
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Blood money was in the headlines this week when the Ruler of Sharjah promised to pay Dh200,000 ($54,458) for the release of a woman from prison.

The woman was jailed when one of her employees died after being electrocuted.

She was ordered to pay the maximum blood money amount – Dh200,000 – to the family of the worker.

A leading lawyer in the UAE told The National that blood money payments were common in the region.

“Blood money payments come into effect when you are found responsible for causing someone’s death,” said Hassan Elhais, legal consultant at Al Rowaad law firm.

“It’s most commonly applied in traffic accidents that result in somebody being killed.

“The amount could be reduced if there were mitigating circumstances, like the victim was on the wrong side of the road or they didn’t stop at a red light, for example.”

He said the amount is typically paid to the heirs of the deceased but this did not prevent them from seeking further compensation.

“The courts can also decide to award further payments to the family of the victim based on loss of income,” he said.

“This only happens in rare cases but the court would take into account the age and profile of the deceased.

“Further compensation, which is separate from blood money, could be related to the loss of earnings the family might have to endure by the death of their loved one.”

The week, the husband of the Emirati woman ordered to pay Dh200,000 in blood money contacted a local radio station to plead his case.

He said he could not afford to make the payment, which meant his wife would have to stay in prison.

Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Ruler of Sharjah and a regular listener to the live radio programme Al Khat Al Mubasher (The Direct Line), heard about the family’s situation and offered to pay the amount to release the woman.

But the payment of blood money, or diya as it is also known, does not always mean someone will avoid a prison term for causing the accidental death of another, Mr Elhais said.

“They can often be two different rulings, it’s at the discretion of the court to decide on that,” he said.

Mr Elhais also said families appealing for blood money must do so within a certain timeframe.

“There is a statute of limitations – you must claim blood money within three years,” he said.

Updated: March 25, 2022, 10:33 AM