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The Impact of Circular No. 8 of 2023: Translation Requirements for Documents in Abu Dhabi Courts

The Constitution of the United Arab Emirates, as enshrined in Article 7, designates Arabic as the official language of the country. This linguistic foundation extends to the legal realm, as emphasized in Article 5 of Federal Decree Law No. 42 of 2022 concerning Civil Procedures. This legal framework dictates that the language of the courts shall be Arabic, and it mandates the provision of interpreters when litigants, witnesses, or individuals lack proficiency in Arabic.

Article 48 of the Civil Procedure Code further underscores the necessity of submitting documentational evidence in Arabic throughout legal proceedings, whereby it stipulates that documents issued in a foreign language must be translated into Arabic by a certified legal translator for admissibility in UAE courts.

However, a significant development occurred on September 12, 2023, with the issuance of Circular No. 8 of 2023 by the Abu Dhabi Judicial Council. This Circular introduced a noteworthy exemption for litigants concerning the translation of bank statements and invoices issued in English. The exemption applies when these documents solely contain numerical data, which is typically self-explanatory and comprehensible to both litigants and the court without the mandatory submission of its translation into Arabic.

In cases where bank statements or invoices include numerical data intertwined with English text that might affect comprehension and dispute resolution, the Circular grants the courts the discretion to determine whether translation into Arabic is necessary.
Prior to this Circular, when the court appointed an expert (accounting or financial), litigants could submit bank statements and invoices in English provided that the appointed expert accepts their submission in their original language (English). However, when presented as evidence before the court, these documents had to be translated into Arabic by a certified legal translator.

The primary aim of the Circular is to alleviate the financial burden and time constraints associated with mandatory translation of documents, especially in lawsuits involving substantial volumes of documents that are inherently comprehensible in their original language, i.e., English. 

While Circular No. 8 was issued by the Abu Dhabi Judicial Council and applies directly to Abu Dhabi Courts only (ideally including Al Ain Courts), there is a potential for judicial authorities in other Emirates to consider a similar approach.
In conclusion, Circular No. 8 of 2023 marks a pivotal step toward achieving a streamlined and cost-friendly litigation process in the UAE legal landscape. 

This article was written by litigation lawyer Hadiel Hussien and focuses on the translation of official documents. 

BSA is a regional Law Firm in the Middle East with offices in the UAE, Oman and Saudi Arabia. As a full-service law firm our practice areas include litigation, arbitration and corporate services, including M&A, banking & finance, Intellectual Property, TMT, Fintech, employment and insurance.

Published on 18 September, 2023.

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