UAE legal Q&As: Developer betrayed contract by not building properties

A reader asks about arbitration courts related to a real estate dispute, while another asks about lodging a case over a bounced cheque.

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I bought real estate units but the developer has not built them and did not deliver under the terms and conditions of the contract. I am planning to file a case as the jurisdiction clause in my contract says I can lodge a dispute in any arbitration centre. I heard that the arbitration process takes only six months. Is it true?

Article no 210/1 of Civil Procedures Law No 11 for 1992 and its amendments states that if the parties to the agreement have not specified a time-frame for dispute settlements then an arbitrator will pass judgment within six months from the date of the first arbitration session, otherwise either party is entitled to refer the dispute to a court. It should be noted, however, that the arbitrator has the right to extend this period for additional months after getting approval from the authorities who appointed them, or with the consent of both parties.

I received a cheque from somebody and I submitted it to my bank within six months of receiving it. However, it has been returned due to insufficient funds. I know that I could file a criminal or commercial case but is there a time limit when it comes to filing such cases?

You have the right to file a criminal case within five years from the date of receiving the cheque. This is in accordance with article no 20 of the Criminal Procedures Law of 1992 and its amendments. But, unfortunately, you do not have the same amount of time to file a commercial case as that would have to be filed within two years against the person who signed and delivered you the cheque, in accordance with article no 638/1 of the Commercial Transactions Law of 1993 and its amendments. There are also some factors that could cut the period of time a case can be filed within, depending on the case, so it is wise to evaluate your options with your lawyer.

If you have a question for Mr Elhais, email with the subject line ‘Know The Law’.

Since publication, legal advice can become outdated due to changes in legislation.