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Abu Dhabi launches fast-track labour disputes court

The Abu Dhabi courts have added a new arm to resolve employment disputes, designed to speed up the process of litigating labour-related matters.10 Jan 2019

The courts, in cooperation with the Abu Dhabi Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation, have this week launched a summary court to complement the One Day Labour Court launched in October 2017.

Employees must first bring their case to the Twa Fouq Centre, managed by the ministry, which seeks to resolve the complaint between employer and employee without going to court.

If no resolution is achieved, the case can be referred to the summary court, where it will be heard straight away by a judge after being registered. If no further legal argument is required, the summary court judge can give an immediate verdict. More complex cases are referred to the One Day Labour Court.

The summary court is able to deal with issues such as the return of a passport or an Emirates ID card, issues with health insurance, accommodation, or the cancellation of a work visa. No court fees are payable at the summary court or the One Day Labour Court.

Employment law expert Luke Tapp of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law, said: "The UAE authorities have been developing the laws around HR and workplaces relations over the past few years. It is extremely positive that as well as developing the legislation, the authorities are now considering ways of improving access to courts and ultimately access to justice."

"Some employment disputes in the UAE can be incredibly complex and it is important to note that this fast-track court system is designed to consider the more straightforward disputes only such as the retention of passports, health insurance and work visas," he said. "These are matters that are not high value in nature but can be extremely important to the parties involved."

"It is certainly another positive development in the UAE employment law regime and demonstrates that the authorities are continuing to consult on and prioritise the development of employment relations and employment disputes," said Tapp.

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