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Historical brief - Story of the Judiciary in Dubai :

The judiciary in Dubai has a beautiful story mixed with fragranceNaif Fort - قلعة نايف of Arab history that reminds us the stories of earlier judges, such as, Justice Ayyadh Ben Moussa Ben Ayyadh, Justice Abdul Aziz Al Jorjani, Judge Abdel Rahman Bin Qudaamah Al Maqhdussy, whom whenever you mention them you would feel a whiff of breeze carrying aroma of history wherein chastity, piety, Godliness and Personal Affairs knowledge originating from the folds of the Book that has been wore out through out the ages but did not fade its knowledge, jurisprudence, verses and wisdom.

You won't be able to know the history of Judiciary unless let your mind free, you should see the image of a dignified personality (Sheikh) in the far off horizon. A man of knowledge, signs of pious, God's fearing, pride of scholar and humbleness are evident on his face, in that image one assigns mission of judiciary to another in Dubai the capital of the sea who witnessed the beginning of its political formation in 1833 by Sheikh Maktoum bin Butti bin Suhail, who was the founder of quiet emirate with limited inhabitants living in muddy houses. It was out of expectation to arise from those houses the disputes which required a huge, spacious court building with several judges, but in those days people had a few simple problems that could be solved by a scholar called "Sheikh" who was revered by the people rather than terrified by his power. That was the image of a judge at the beginning that is penetrated in the history for more than a century.


The images of those earlier judges who were successively assumed judiciary task in Dubai from its beginnings would be passed through you, among those images the image of Sheikh Khamis that dignified man, whose first name only been recorded in the history. who had gone to Al Hisa to study and returned to Dubai during the regime of Sheikh Maktoum bin Hasher bin Maktoum bin Butti, who took power during 1884-1906, thereafter appeared the image of Sheikh Hassan Al Khazraji , who resumed the judiciary after the death of the first Judge (Shiekh Khamis). Justice Kharzarji used to adjudge at his home in Al Ras area Deira. Then image of Justice Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdul Salam Al Margharbi, would appear that solemn man who had arrived from Morocco, from the Atlantic coast to the coast of Arabian Gulf, and settled down in Dubai as a judge, where he got married and settled in until he reached to old age. He was succeeded by Sheikh Abdul Rahman Bin Hafez followed by Sheikh Ahmed bin Hassan Al-Khazraji and Sheikh Ali Janahi, then came Sheikh Mohammed Al- Shanqeeti, Sheikh Mubarak bin Ali Al Shamsi, who used to review the judgments and endorse them for execution. Since there was no need of premises for judiciary at that time, the judges used to adjudicate from their homes until the conditions changed where the Al-Ahmadiyya school which was built by noble citizen of Dubai Mohammed bin Dalmouk during recession period followed by World War, whereas the education was abandoned by many students the school utilized as Judiciary. This continued until the economic condition improved and pupils resumed their education with Sheikh Mohammed Nur Al Muhairi. The judges then went back to their residences and practiced judiciary from there. At the later stage a part of Ahmadiyya school allotted for judiciary purposes.

Thus, judiciary in Dubai was simple as no formal decision had been issued until 1938 when Sheikh Saeed bin Maktoum Al Maktoum had commissioned his brother Sheikh Hasher bin Maktoum Al Maktoum to settle the dispute among the people.

This was the official beginning of Department of Justice in Dubai, whereas disputes were raised to Sheikh Hasher for settlement. He used to resolve the disputes among the parties by adjustments and reconciliation wherever he could, and refer to judges the matter he sees necessary to be solved by them. Thus he was exercising the authority of Superintendent or director of Judiciary in Dubai. He was managing the same at a shop in Al Arsaa Market – Deira. Then he was succeeded by his son, Sheikh Mohammed bin Hasher bin Maktoum Al Maktoum in 1956, when was appointed as Judicial Superintendant, and it was a sign of a new phase in judiciary as a new house had been hired for judicial practice in Al Ras area. However the judicial body was comprised of Justice Mr. Mohammed Al Shanqeeti, and Sheikh Ahmed bin Hassan Al Khazraji, then Justice Mohammed Dajani who had been recruited from Syria. Exactly after two years, in 1958 Naif fort had been assigned as Judicial department of Dubai until the end of 1979. At the end of 1958 Justice Mr. Mohammad Jafar Al Saqqaf had been appointed to resolve any disputes among the nationals (Locals) only, while the disputes either party of them is an expatriate were viewed by British Commission through a bench presided by Sheikh Mohammed bin Hasher Al Maktoum.

In order to assist judiciary, experts specialized in maritime disputes been appointed to review the disputes which are related to diving and maritime, they were known as "Al Salifaa". The best known was the late, Mr. Juma bin Abdullah Amleh, the late, Ahmed bin Harib and Humaid Al Basti. They used to adjudge such disputes at their homes or in a shop in the market.

When the court shifted to Naif building in 1958, last "Salafa", Ahmed bin Hareb, had been provided a room where he used to look into disputes among the people resulting from deeds related to maritime. He was competent in assessing the damages stemming out of such deeds and submit his decision to Justice Al Saqqaf for approval. J/Al Saqqaf also approved others experts' decisions and considered thereof as the basis for the rule of jurisdiction on those disputes.

The 1970 is considered as the founding year of modern courts in Dubai whereas a law had been issued has to constitute the Courts, accordingly the civil court was innovated that chaired by late Justice /Ouday Bitar, and his successor, Justice / Musa Al Jayyousi who was followed by Justice Ghalib Bustami.

Under the same law the Court of Appeal had been formed the said law specified jurisdiction and structure of Appeal court, thereafter law No. 2 of 1979 issued for the formation of Higher Court of Appeal, by virtue of that the Court of Appeal become independent with a new law which abolished all previous provisions regarding the Appeal Court in the court formation law of 1970.

Subsequently on 14/4/1979 a decree issued for assigning Chief justice and Judges of the Higher Appeal Court which stipulated to appoint Mr. Mahmoud Ahmed Al-Hennawi in capacity of Chief Justice, Mr. Hassan Ismail Qasim, as his deputy, and Mr. Ahmed Ahmed Abdul Shakoor and Mr. Mamdouh Muhiedeen Marie as bench members. The said law has been amended by Law No. (2) for 1988 which removed the word the 'Higher' to be the Court of Appeal only.

There was no law for the formation of a Cassation Court until 1988 in law of the court formation No. (1) for 1988 issued in 6/2/1988. in subsequent Decree No. (6) of 1988 was issued, to appoint Chief Justice for the Court of Cassation that stipulated to appoint the first Chief Justice of Court of cassation at the Dubai Courts, Dr. Mostafa Kamel Kerra as well as Justice / Syed Abdul Baqi Saif Jameel, Justice / Jamal Al-Deen Mahmmoud Fahmi, Justice / Ali Shehadeh Al –Naa'san, and Justice / Dr. Abdulla Mohammed Dafallah and Justice / Dr. Ali Ibrahim Al Imam Hanafi Ibrahim Ahmed.

Apparently no law was passed for the formation and jurisdiction all three courts all together, until the issuance of Law No. 3 of 1992 the formation of the courts in the Emirate of Dubai, which specified the jurisdiction of each court separately. Later the Law No.3 of 2000 was passed to declare the formation of a Department named 'Department of Courts' which was empowered to regulate the courts at Emirate of Dubai in administrative and financial aspects. The said law specified the authorities of the Department and was defined as its technical, financial and administrative management.

The situation remained unchanged until the issuance of Law No. 1of 2003, for the establishment of Department of Justice, which empowered the department and merged the Courts and Public Prosecution together, with their entire previous authorities and administration. Supervision of Judicial Inspection Authority was as well included in that, relying on the laws passed to regulate affairs of the courts, Public prosecution and Judicial Inspection Authority separately.

Then Law No. 5 of 2005 was issued which cancelled Law No. 1 of 2003 for establishing the Department of Justice. Furthermore issuance of Law No. 6 of 2005 had restored the former law and formulated the courts as a separate independent entity from Public Prosecution, and re-formed its structure.

This is the history of the judiciary in Dubai which narrates how did Dubai the shore of the magnificent sea along the Gulf coast, passed through the stages of development, and the Emirate of Dubai that embraces in its arms of creek (Khour Dubai) a city which turned into a modern city and commercial hub of the UAE. Dubai is the home of the largest and the latest global corporations and recently became the headquarters of (IRENA) International Renewable Energy Agency. That is the fast and proportionate harmony with modernity that is drawing world's attention.