The court system in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi consists of three levels: courts of first instance, courts of appeal and court of cassation. On a
recommendation of the Judicial Council, specialized courts / tribunals may be established to consider specific disputes under certain terms
of reference. Such court may include primary and appellate courts and enforcement division to enforce the judgments issued within its scope.
Courts of First Instance
The courts of first instance have general jurisdiction over all types of cases filed in the capital city of Abu Dhabi, with the exception of cases
excluded by law. They consist of three-judge major chambers and one-judge minor chambers. These courts are the largest ones in the UAE,
given the number of chambers and the cases heard, and they have the jurisdiction to consider cases primarily filed before them.
A) Civil actions:
In terms of case type, this extensive term includes civil, commercial, administrative, labour, and personal status cases as well as cases of summary
A Civil Case, in view of value or nature, can be either a major case tried by three judges, or a minor case tried by one judge.
Can be heard either before the felony chambers consisting of three judges, or before the misdemeanor and offense chambers operated by a single judge.
Locations of Abu Dhabi Courts of First Instance and affiliated division:
- The Head Office is located at Abu Dhabi Judicial Department in Madinat Zayed Sports City, and notary services are provided as well.
- Bani Yas Court of First Instance, located in Bani Yas and provides notary services.
- Labor Court, located in the city of Mussaffah.
- Al Rahba Court of First Instance, located in Al Rahba City, and includes notary services.
- Al Dhafra Court of First Instance, located in Zayed City, Western Region.
- Ruwais Court of First Instance.
- Mirfa Court of First Instance.
- Baia Court of First Instance, located in AlSila.
- Delma Court of First Instance, located in Dalma Island.
- There are branch courts in Abu Dhabi Municipality, Department of Licensing and Traffic, and Department of Residency and Naturalizatio, noting that the municipality branch provides notary services.
- Besides, there are private offices to provide notary services, including Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry at Najda Street.
Out of ADJD keenness to support the direction towards specialized judicial work, with the aim to enhance performance and speed up the resolving of cases,
a number of ad-hoc judicial chambers have been established to deal with cases and disputes related to: construction and contracts,
banks and financial institutions, stocks and bonds, insurance and indemnification, intellectual property, child visitation, and partial medical errors. Besides,
chambers for cases of domestic workers, government employees and small-claim cases have been established recently. Moreover,
ADJD has concluded a special agreement with the International Council of Arbitration for Sport (ICAS) to establish a center for the Court of Arbitration
for Sports in Abu Dhabi, making the first international seat outside the Swiss city of Lausanne.
Abu Dhabi Criminal Court:
It has been established under decree No. 11 of 2018, issued by the Chairman of ADJD. The court is composed of a chief justice and a sufficient number of
judges and administrative staff to carry out the necessary administrative and clerical work. The court is located in Abu Dhabi city, and has the same
geographical jurisdiction of Abu Dhabi Court of First Instance and its subsidiary courts. The court has the power to hear criminal cases in its various
chambers of felony, misdemeanor and offences in accordance with the Penal Code and the criminal legislations governing the city of Abu Dhabi.
Courts within the jurisdiction of Al Ain Court of First Instance and Al Dhafra Court of First Instance have the competence to hear cases brought before
through its felony chambers consisting of three judges, as well as misdemeanor and offense chambers consisting of a single judge.
Abu Dhabi Commercial Court:
The Abu Dhabi Commercial Court was established in May 2008 on the initiative of His Highness Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan,
Chairman of Abu Dhabi Judicial Department, to cope with the rapid growth of Abu Dhabi's booming business sector and out of the need for fair,
effective and innovative judicial services. This court comes under the general court system and comprises of minor and major chambers at the first level,
and of appellate court. It is assisted by a reconciliation committee whose role is to find amicable solutions to disputes.
The mission of the Commercial Court is to provide businesses and companies with excellent judicial services,
taking advantage of the latest sophisticated technologies. The court has a vision to achieve justice through the application of best practices
in this jurisdiction at the world level. The court takes into account the peculiarities of commercial litigants and the importance of time factor
Abu Dhabi Labour Court
The Abu Dhabi Labor Court was established with the aim of providing a judicial system that meets the requirements of Abu Dhabi labor market.
The court is located in Musaffah where the majority of Abu Dhabi laborers reside; and it has the competence to consider cases involving
workers in the private sector, through the application of the Labor Law and the Human Rights Charter, taking into account speed and fairness
while resolving cases. The Labor court consists of five "minor" chambers, one "major" chamber two "appeal" chambers, and one "enforcement" division.
In accordance with Decision No. 22 of 2018 issued by H.H. Chairman of ADJD, a specialized court has been established in the city of Abu Dhabi under
the name of Abu Dhabi Labour Court. The court has the same geographical jurisdiction of Abu Dhabi Court of First Instance and its subsidiary,
and comprises of minor and major chambers at the first level, and of appellate court, in addition to an enforcement division.
Under the supervision of the Labor Court, a fast-track labour chamber has been established, which has jurisdiction over all minor simple labor cases.
Besides, the labour court considers labor summary matters.
Under the law and to protect the interests of both parties, the Labor Court had previously required litigants, to resort first to the Reconciliation Committees,
in an attempt to find amicable solutions to their disputes. But in early 2017, the reconciliation committees in the labor court were removed with a view to
speed up the process of litigation and dispute resolution. The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratization refer the dispute to the Labour Court
and after registering the case in the electronic registration section, Case Managers proceeds with managing the dispute directly then refer the
case file to the competent chamber, having they served a notice of the hearing date to the defendant.
Court of Arbitration for Sports
In line with the decision of His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Presidential Affairs and Chairman of
Abu Dhabi Judicial Department, two new chambers for both Personal Status and Inheritance cases were established recently in Abu Dhabi Court of First Instance.
The two circuits started functioning as of 05.02.2017 .
Each of these chamber, composed of a single judge and a court clerk (secretary), works in accordance with the rules of jurisdiction, rules of attribution in
the Civil Transactions Law, the Personal Status Law and the Civil Procedures Law. These two specialized chambers guarantee access to the required judicial
services for non-Muslims in cases of personal status and inheritance, where a matter is considered an issue of personal status or inheritance pursuant to the
laws of the party's nationality. The services provided by these chamber include:
Jurisdiction of the Personal Status Chamber for non-Muslims
Jurisdiction of the Inheritance Chamber for non-Muslims
Rental Dispute Settlement Committees:
- These committees shall be competent to consider, as a matter of urgency, disputes arising from a rental relationship between the lessor/ landlord and lessee/ tenant, and to resolve any interim applications filed by either party, based on Law No. 20 of 2006 regarding the regulation of the relationship between lessors and lessees in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
- Each rental dispute settlement committee shall be formed of one chair judge and two judge members. The number of judges in each committee shall not be less than three, and all committees shall work under the umbrella of ADJD.
Court of Appeal
The application of two-tier litigation, one of the basic principles of modern judicial systems, is strongly adopted by Abu Dhabi Judicial Department,
to ensure justice by allowing litigants to appeal the judgments of the first instance court in all types of cases except for conclusive uncontested cases,
as stipulated by law.
The Court of Appeal consists of several chambers composed of three judges to determine the appealed judgments rendered in the courts of first instance.
They have a broad jurisdiction covering civil, commercial, labor, administrative, personal and criminal cases.
The court of appeal takes into account the interests of litigants, and endeavors to ease and facilitate access to justice. Therefore, appeal chambers have been
established in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Dhafra. This asserts the efforts made by ADJD to achieve its mission in terms of the serving the rights.
In accordance with decree No. 21 of 2018, issued by His Highness Chairman of ADJD, a specialized chamber has been established in both Abu Dhabi Court of
Appeal and Al Ain Court of Appeal to consider cases of arbitration.
Court of Cassation
Being the highest judicial body in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, the Court of Cassation has the power to consider challenges filed against the judgments rendered
in the Courts of Appeal, and to decide on jurisdictional conflicts that may emerge among the Emirate courts. Besides, the court has the jurisdiction to determine
the accountability of the Executive Council members other senior executives appointed in the emirate pursuant to Emiri Decrees, based on a proposal submitted
by the Chairman of the Executive Council, the Ruler's consent, and in accordance with the relevant law.
The Court of Cassation consists of ten chambers: 2 criminal, 2 commercial, 2 personal status, 1 administrative, 1 civil, 1 labour, and 1 "judicial affairs chamber"
which considers the grievances filed by judicial-office holders in relation to warnings served to them by the Judicial Council.
A cassation chamber shall consist of, at least, three judges; and hearings are held openly, unless otherwise provided for by the law. And the court may,
on its own initiative or at the request of litigants, order to hold a closed hearing to maintain public order and morals or for special family circumstances.
In all cases, a judgment is rendered in an open hearing.
The court of cassation ensures in the first place the good interpretation and proper application of the law. Guided by the strategic goals set by ADJD,
the court seeks to administer and promote accomplished justice using the latest technologies. The court is keen, as well, to issue judgments within
record times to uphold the rights of people on timely basis.
Out of its strategic policy, the Court of Cassation conducts on-going communication activities at the local, regional and international levels, in order to exchange
judicial information and discuss legal issues with its peers and interested parties. Moreover, the court seeks to promote public awareness of judicial matters
through the publication of its judgments on ADJD website and by other means, with the aim to establish judicial principles in the society.
The enforcement division plays a pivotal role. It is the entity in charge of serving and implementing rights through the enforcement of judgments and
court orders marked by the executive wording. The division has the power to enforce reconciliation agreements approved by the judiciary, and certified
instruments deemed as a judgment under the law, by forcibly enforcing the judgment against a judgment creditor (obligor) through any means allowed by law
to ensure enforcement. The Civil Procedure Law regulates the powers of the enforcement judge and the provisions of forcible enforcement.
The ADJD's Enforcement Division comprises of four sections located in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, the Western Region, and the Labour Court
Each section consists of three basic units as follows:
1) Enforcement Unit: undertakes all enforcement workload through four basic branches:
- General Enforcement Branch
- Personal Status Enforcement Branch
- Eviction, Sale and Auction Enforcement Branch
- Security deposits and other enforcement cases Branch
2) Enforcement Support Unit: undertakes all administrative support and assistance works through four basic branches:
- Filing and registration branch
- Notification branch
- Accountants branch
- Incoming/ outgoing mail, typing, and archive branch
3) Technical Review Unit: undertakes the task of technical review of all enforcement actions, to ensure the accuracy and correctness of all technical aspects
related to enforcement.