x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

FNC mulls tougher cybercrime laws and increased legal fees

Increasing judicial fees to avoid spurious court cases and raising fines up to Dh2 million for some cyber crimes are among draft bills to be discussed by the FNC on Tuesday.

The FNC is meeting tomorrow to consider a draft bill that proposes raising fines of up to Dh2million for cybercrimes. Wam
The FNC is meeting tomorrow to consider a draft bill that proposes raising fines of up to Dh2million for cybercrimes. Wam

ABU DHABI // Increased judicial fees to deter spurious court cases and fines of up to Dh2 million for some cybercrimes are among the draft bills on the FNC’s agenda on Monday.

Article 9 of the 2012 Cybercrime Law, which prohibits fraudulent access to websites by “using a fake account or using another’s account or by any other method to commit a crime or preventing it from being discovered” has been raised from a misdemeanour to a crime under a draft amendment.

The range of fines have also been raised from Dh150,000 to Dh500,000 to between Dh500,000 and Dh2m.

In both drafts, the penalties include a jail sentence and or including the fine.

“There are many people now using electronic devices for insults and slander, among other things, so stricter measures might serve as a deterrent against such usage,” said Jasem Al Naqbi, a FNC legislative committee member who has studied the draft bill.

Action is needed to punish online impersonation or using another person’s account to cause damage, he said.

“That places a risk on [innocent] individuals of being accused wrongfully,” Mr Al Naqbi said.

Lawyer Ali Al Abbadi said cases prosecuted under this article were quite common in UAE courts.

Such was the case of the husband of the so-called “Ghost” killer of Reem Island, who was accused of breaking into websites using such methods.

He said that amendments should be made to laws to keep up with evolving criminality.

A draft law that adds, increases or, in some humanitarian cases, decreases judicial fees for filing lawsuits in federal courts, will replace a 10-year-old law if passed.

Mr Al Naqbi explained that there were certain types of lawsuits that do not require fees, and the new law added fees.

This deterred spurious lawsuits for the purposes of money or revenge, he said.

“So the person will consider before filing the lawsuit that ‘I still have to pay the fee’.”

On some lawsuits the fees have been reduced.

“If [the case] involves labour or personal affairs, these are humanitarian issues more than just lawsuits against others, so those have been reduced.”

Currently, misdemeanour cases do not require fees, said legal counsellor Ahmad Abdulazeem.

They include verbal insult accusations or minor physical attacks.

Similarly, lawsuits filed by the Government do not require fees.

As for civil lawsuits, one has to pay 4 per cent of the amount they are claiming in fees. When the claimed amount exceeds Dh100,000 the fee increases to 5 per cent, with a cap of Dh 30,000.

Mr Al Naqbi said this fee would rise.

The Abu Dhabi Judicial Department recently added fees to misdemeanour lawsuits, if the accused was convicted.

“No matter the amount of fees, if one has a right they won’t concede from chasing it,” said Mr Abdulazeem.

“However, in grudge-driven lawsuits one will think twice because he will risk paying fees and getting nowhere in the end.”

FNC members will also discuss a draft law that identifies the authority of the National Media Council.

hdajani@thenational.ae