UAE legal Q&As: Can I be punished for swearing in public?
A: The UAE Personal Status Law is the law to be applied to personal status matters examined by Emirati courts and is viable for both Emiratis and expatriates, except when the litigants are not UAE nationals and they request the law of their land to prevail in the courtroom. The court is then bound to apply that law as long as a certified copy of the law is submitted with a letter from the embassy of that country confirming that the submitted law is the personal status law in force there. So, for example, a non-Muslim foreigner may divorce his wife under the UAE Personal Status Law, which is based on Sharia.
Q: What are the legal consequences of indirectly causing the death of a person? For instance, can I go to prison if a pedestrian stumbles and falls in front of my car?
A: The above-mentioned incident falls under unintentional killing due to the lack of criminal intent, as the perpetrator lacks the will to commit the crime. However, the perpetrator is not exempt from punishment in this case, even if the crime was committed unintentionally and without criminal intent. Article 342 of the UAE Penal Code punishes by imprisonment and fine or by either whoever causes the death of a person. The lack of criminal intent does not waive the right to the Diyyah (blood money) owed under Sharia. However, the amount of the Diyyah is decided by the court, taking into account the extent of the perpetrator's involvement in the incident.
Q: If I was standing in line in some institution and someone jumped the queue without permission, then I mumbled some insults and bad words but did not explicitly direct them at the person in question, can they accuse me of something?
A: If the person heard the insults, he/she has the right to accuse you of defamation, even if they were not addressed to him personally. This situation indicates that the insults were directed to him, in the presence of witnesses, so it could certainly lead to litigation. One should therefore exert patience and restraint in such situations and the person who has been skipped can always inform someone of authority at the institution and the matter would be solved without exposing oneself to legal liability.
Yousef Al Bahar is an advocate at Al Bahar and Associates Advocates and Legal Consultants. If you have a question for our lawyer, please email it to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line "Know the law".
Updated: March 22, 2015 04:00 AM