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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 11 December 2018

'How can I challenge a UK custody case via Skype from the UAE?'

The father has to be in a courtroom in the Emirates when the case involving his son is heard

The Dubai resident, who is divorced, does not want his son to be adopted by his wife's new husband. Photo: Alamy Stock Photo
The Dubai resident, who is divorced, does not want his son to be adopted by his wife's new husband. Photo: Alamy Stock Photo

I am locked in a battle with my ex-wife about our son who is now 12 years old and lives in the UK with his mother. My ex-wife contacted me a couple of months ago asking if I would give him up for adoption so that her new husband can legally adopt him. I refused and the case is now going to court in the UK. I have always paid child maintenance as agreed by the court and would love to have more contact with my son than my ex allows. I have now found out when it all goes to court that I will be contacted by Skype to attend the hearings and that I also have to be in a courtroom. Skype is not available in the UAE so how can I do this? Can I go to a court in Dubai? AS, Dubai

This is a tricky issue and I contacted Madeleine Mendy, head of family law at Bin Sevan Advocates for expert opinion. She said: “On a practical level, there are no court video link facilities in the Dubai Court however these are available for hire in the Dubai International Financial Centre. Alternatively, the father may attend court directly in England. In relation to the adoption, if he has parental responsibility (this is not automatic), the court cannot make an order without his input. The most important thing here is to establish if he has parental responsibility. With regards to contact, the father can make an application to the court for a Child Arrangement Order, which will establish set contact times between the father and his son when he visits England and eventually, so that he can come on holiday here too.”

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I have been terminated without a notice period, with ‘redundancy’ stated as the reason. I was on an unlimited contract with a LLC company. Can I demand three months’ salary as compensation? I have worked in the company for two-and-a-half years under the designation of sales executive. RM, Abu Dhabi

Employees should be given an actual reason for being made redundant, as a matter of courtesy as much as anything else. If the termination is not for a specific reason such as failure to carry out the work properly, inappropriate behaviour or a law being broken, an employee may be able to seek compensation for unfair dismissal. Article 122 of UAE Labour Law states: "The termination by the employer of an employee’s service is considered arbitrary if the cause for such termination has nothing to do with the work." And Article 123 goes on to say: "If the employee has been arbitrarily dismissed, the competent court has the jurisdiction to give judgement against the employer for payment of compensation to the employee. The court shall determine the amount of this compensation, taking into consideration the nature of work sustained by the employee, period of service and after investigation of dismissal circumstances. Provided that in all cases the amount of compensation should not exceed the employee’s pay for a period of three months, to be worked out on the basis of last pay due to him."

In RM’s situation he is entitled to receive full pay for the notice period stated in his contract of employment, whether he is required to work this or not. Labour Law states that this is a minimum of 30 days and he is entitled to receive his end of service gratuity in full. If his notice period is three months, then income for that period must be paid and no extra would be due for arbitrary dismissal. If RM believes he is simply being replaced without reason, has a notice period of fewer than three months, or is not paid for any notice period then he could consider registering a case against his employer for arbitrary dismissal with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation. He must be aware that this may take time to resolve, which could delay his ability to find new employment.

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I am from Colombia and living in Dubai on a student visa. Does the visa I have allow me to have a professional job in the UAE. I came for a course that lasts three months. MK, Dubai

Although the laws relating to students being permitted to undertake part-time work have loosened in the past year, these relate to students on a full residency visa, or either under their father’s sponsorship or sponsored by their university or college. They still require permission from their sponsor and/or school and strict rules apply in respect of the work undertaken and the hours worked. This is not the same for international students on a temporary student visa as they are not permitted to take on employment unless this is part of an approved internship programme and they obtain specific permission from their university.

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser and senior partner with Holborn Assets in Dubai, with over 25 years’ experience. Contact her at keren@holbornassets.com. Follow her on Twitter at @FinancialUAE

The advice provided in our columns does not constitute legal advice and is provided for information only