The current Abu Dhabi Courts were reshaped under Law No (23) of 2006 which restructured the Judiciary in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

Abu Dhabi Courts report to the Judicial Council which in turn reports to His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi Court System is composed of three layers of adjudication which initially begin with ADR Committees. The three layers are Court of First Instance, Court of Appeals and Court of Cassation. The latter is the last layer of adjudication as its judgment is final and irrevocable.

Each layer of adjudication falls within the jurisdiction of several judicial circuits including Personal Status, Civil, Criminal, Commercial and Administrative Circuits.

Each court is presided over by a president supported by a number of judges and skilled administrative staff.

Court of Cassation

Deemed the most supreme judicial body in the Emirate, the Court of Cassation has the power to try the cases challenged by the Court of Appeals and decides on jurisdictional conflicts that may emerge among the Emirate courts. It also enjoys jurisdiction to try the accountability of the Executive Council members and other senior civil servants appointed pursuant to Emiri Decrees upon a proposal made by the Chairman of the Executive Council, the Ruler’s approval and in accordance with the relevant law.

The Court of Cassation consists of five circuits: Criminal, Commercial, Civil, Personal Status and Administrative. It also comprises another circuit called “Judge Affairs Circuit” which tries the petitions submitted by the Judicial Authority members concerning the notice that may be address to them by the Judicial Council.

The Cassation Circuits are formed of three judges. Hearings are held in open court unless otherwise indicated by the legislation, or the court on its own, or at the request of any disputant closes the hearing in order to maintain order, observe public morality or for the privacy of the family. However, in all cases, judgment is rendered in an open hearing.

The Court of Cassation endeavors to harmonize the interpretation of and ensure the proper enforcement of Law. Guided by the strategic goals set by the Department, the Court of Cassation seeks to administer the accomplished justice using the latest technologies. It also issues judgments within record times to uphold the rights of their owners on timely basis.

The Court of Cassation conducts on-going communication activities that educate the public on judicial matters. In this regard, it publishes its rendered judgments and introduces all its activities through its website or the judicial groups.

Courts of Appeals


Considered a basic component of modern Judiciary Systems, the second-layer adjudication is adopted by Abu Dhabi Judicial Department to imbed the accomplished justice in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

It is also intended to allow a litigant convicted by the Court of First Instance to appeal his/her case before a higher court in accordance with the provisions of the Civil and Criminal Procedural Laws effective in the UAE.

Court of Appeals consists of several specialized circuits. Each circuit is composed three Judges. It tries the appealed judgments issued in several areas of adjudication.

The specialized circuits in the Court of Appeal look into commercial, civil, criminal, personal status, labor and administrative.

To spare the litigants the pain of having access to justice. The Judicial Department established courts of Appeal in Abu Dhabi, Al-Ain and Dhafrah.

Courts of First Instance

In terms of structure size, multiple ancillary circuits and diversified jurisdiction, Abu Dhabi Court of First Instance is the largest court in the Emirate, and is followed by Al Ain peer. Privileged with its location in the capital city, it can provide a wide range of services to all citizens and residents.

Abu Dhabi Court of First Instance Main Offices and Affiliates

    • The Main Offices are located within ADJD premises which provides Notary Services
    • The Commercial Court which provides Notary services
    • Bani Yas Court of First Instance in Bani Yas, which provides Notary services
    • Al Rahba Court of First Instance in Al Rahba, which provides Notary services
    • Al Dhafra Court of First Instance in Medinat Zayed in the Western Region
    • Al Ruweis Court of First Instance
    • Al Marfa Court of First Instance
    • Al Sila Court of First Instance
    • Delma Court of First Instance on Delma Island
    • Branch Courts located in Abu Dhabi Municipality (with Notary services), Traffic Police and Abu Dhabi Naturalization & Residency Directorate
    • Special Offices that offer Notary services in , Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Al Moroor Area and Najda Street.

Abu Dhabi Court of First Instance Breakdown by Case Type/Jurisdiction

It is divided into three main Sections each with different case type as follows:

    1. Civil Cases that can be broken down by type into: civil, commercial, administrative, labor, as well expedite cases. A Civil Case, in view of its value or nature, can be either a full bench case tried by a circuit with three judges, or partial bench/minor case tried by a circuit with one judge. However, in all Civil Cases, the claimant (plaintiff) must first initiate his/her case in the Reconciliation Section which consists of magistrate circuits headed by one judge and two National members.
    2. Personal Status Cases that can be divided into four types: Family; Inheritance which include Proof of Death, decree of distribution, devolution of heirs; Documentation & Proclamations; Family Guidance. All Personal Status courts are presided by a judge. This Section seeks to reconciliate the disputant parties to a Personal Status case (Family) amicably, otherwise it forward the case to be tried by a judge.

Criminal Cases which are divided into Criminal Circuits established with three judges, Misdemeanor Circuits and Offenses (Violation) Circuits established with one judge.

Commercial Courts

Initiated by H.H the Chairman of the Judicial Department, the Specialized Commercial Court was established in May 2008 to respond to the significant expansion which the business sector in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi has recently experienced along with the emerging judicial services with commercial nature. The Commercial Court goes also in line with ADJD strategy that seeks to ‘Provide advanced and easily accessible facilities’ and to establish fair and accomplished judiciary with innovative and efficient justice services.

The Administration of the Commercial Court is guided by a ‘Steering Committee’ which meets with the Court officials on a regular basis to improve the Court method of work, review the latest developments and work flow and to follow up on performance.

Located in the center of Abu Dhabi City, the Court building is well equipped with technical and hi-tech systems which would contribute to the accurate and responsive administration of justice to serve the foreign and local investments. The internal layout was designed in accordance with the judicially specific nature to arbitrate differences and settle disputes in the financial and commercial sector.

The Commercial Court consists of full bench and partial bench courts, court of appeal, as well Reconciliation Committee that helps the Court reach amicable alternative dispute resolutions.

Consistent to its Mission, the Commercial Court seeks to provide businesses with state-of-the-art judicial services supported with the best and latest technologies and in accordance with its vision that aims to administer justice based on internationally avowed best-in-class practices. By this, it observes the specific situation of the disputing parties to case, particularly in terms of the importance of time to businessmen.

The Commercial Court allocated an evening shift for adjudication, notary public services, in addition to other free-of-charge services to the public including application form completion, photocopying, faxing … etc. Moreover, the Court lobbies are provided with (LCD) electronic screens that guide the relevant customers including the litigants, lawyers, witnesses and others to the accurate timings and places. The Court also established an e-Registration Office to register the cases referred by the Reconciliation Committee to be forwarded to the competent entities, to set a hearing date and assign a judge.

With international best practices in place, the Commercial Court makes a significant progress in terms of speed and accuracy of case management, a measure which brings it closer to distinction during the next five years, and which boosts its pursuit to strongly support the economic growth in the Emirate.



Emirate Of Abu Dhabi

Judicial Department

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