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May 2019, the Court of Appeal exonerated two women after being charged with breach of trust for four years.

Article 404 of UAE Penal Code stipulates that: ”Shall be sentenced to detention or to a fine, whoever embezzles, uses of dilapidated amounts, bills or any other movable property to the prejudice of those entitled whenever the said movable property are delivered to him on bases of deposit, lease, pledge, loan for consumption or proxy (…) ”.

The Criminal Law of UAE, Federal Law Number 3 of 1987 governs fraud and breach of trust within the UAE. According to the law, breach of trust takes place when the object of the crime is a movable property such as money. It occurs when the accused embezzles or uses or wastes what was delivered to him without a legal right. Unlike theft and fraud, in order for breach of trust to be held, the victim must suffer damages. A breach of trust is categorized as a misdemeanor, the available sentence is imprisonment of between one month and three years and a fine of between 100 and 30,000 UAE dirhams.

In 2015, a plaintiff filed a complaint against two women with whom she had a partnership. Through her company, the plaintiff performed services to a local real estate developer. Following a conflict among the partners, the defendants set up an institution similar to the plaintiff’s company and exploited the similarity of activities between both companies to claim from the said developer payment of the provided services, without the knowledge of the plaintiff. As soon as the latter realized the state of affairs, she notified the developer and sought justice and compensation for losses suffered due to the defendants’ act.

In 2016, the defendants appeared in court where they denied the charge of breach of trust against them. They were thereafter referred to the Misdemeanor Court and were ordered to pay damages. The defendants’ attorney lodged an appeal in 2018, and the case was referred to the Court of Appeal to be considered by different judges.

Finally, until 2019, and after four years of being charged with breach of trust, the Court of Appeal discharged the defendants, taking into account Article 211 concerning The Criminal Procedural Law that stipulates ”Should the act be not established or if the law does not punish it, the court shall declare the accused innocent and shall be released in case he is detained for this act alone”.

A criminal conviction can lead to traditional forms of punishment such as imprisonment monetary fines. The collateral consequences of criminal convictions affect many areas of life. In many countries, they lead to the loss of civil status. On the one hand, citizens may lose their right to vote and ineligibility for jury duty, on the other hand, immigrants may face deportation, including those who, while not citizens, hold permanent resident status.

Collateral consequences of a criminal conviction could render a person ineligible for public benefits, such as the ability to live in public housing, deny access to government benefits like public funds including welfare benefits and student loans.

Collateral consequences of criminal conviction also affect employment; laws prohibit the employment of convicted persons as peace officers or health care workers, forbid the obtaining of professional licenses or permits necessary to work or do business, they may even cause pension loss. They also affect family relationships, such as the ability to custody or to visit one’s children.

Nevertheless, people involved in criminal proceedings may not realize the full ramifications of criminal charges, especially in the aforementioned case, where the defendants had to bear the fear of imprisonment, unemployment, deportation, and restriction of several rights for four years before they were finally found not guilty.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

Article by:

Soukaina Fartat,
Litigation Department.



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