A wide-ranging review into contracts such as car leases, health club memberships and employment agreements for domestic staff could change the way business is done in the capital.
The Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (DED) is conducting a study of service contracts to ensure workers' and consumers' rights are properly protected. The process covers a number of different areas, including travel packages and wedding services.
"We have service contracts in terms of having to provide [domestic staff] or having to provide a service related to gyms, health clubs and so on," said Mohammed Salmam, a legal expert with the DED.
"Sometimes you have unfair clauses. Sometimes it is not unfair for the person who provides the service. It is unfair from a consumer's point of view. It is not considered as balanced."
The DED has already met representatives of recruitment offices in the capital to discuss clauses in employment contracts. And the Policies and Legislation section of the department is reviewing sample contracts in an effort to single out unfair clauses and suggest alternatives to make them fairer to consumers.
Activities that have attracted consumer complaints will also be identified and listed as part of the review.
"Right now in this project we are trying to choose these activities and get samples of these contracts and review them to ensure that all these clauses are considered fair," said Mr Salmam. "If two or three of these clauses are not fair this could result in complaints from consumers. We have to sit down and review these contracts."
The review aims to simplify jargon used in contracts to make it easier for consumers to understand and formulate a model agreement for each activity, whether it be a car lease or domestic staff contract.
"We [will] have a sample of these contracts for each activity or each sector and this contract will be considered as the … friendly consumers' contract," added Mr Salmam.
Guidance will be issued to service providers following the review. A comprehensive questionnaire will also be provided to consumers, to determine how satisfied they are with the services they receive, and ensure the effectiveness of steps taken to address any deficiencies found.