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An application for retraction as a new method of appeal to final judgments


In the United Arab Emirates (UAE) there are three levels of courts for litigation: 

Court of First Instance: This court is the first level of litigation, and it considers all civil, commercial, labor, and personal status cases. The court is competent to examine documents, statements of claim and determine the relationship between the litigants and their rights.

Court of Appeal: This court is the level that follows the court of first instance. The litigants who do not accept the judgment issued by the Court of First Instance can apply to this court within thirty days from the date of issuance of their judgment. The appeal can only be filed by a party against whom the judgment has been issued, this is in order to clarify the errors in the said judgment and submit new evidence and documents to clarify the aspects of violation in the original judgment.

Court of Cassation: This court is the highest level of litigation as the legislator allows the litigants to obtain a final judgment and to supervise the proper application of the law upon issuance of the judgment from the Court of Appeal. The litigants may apply to the Court of Cassation within sixty days from the date of issuance of the previous judgment. The judgment issued by the court of cassation is final, i.e. it cannot be reconsidered again before any other court with regard to the same subject.

In light of significant developments that the UAE is witnessing, alongside the large number of cases and following prompt adjudication, the UAE legislator has established a method of appeal for final judgments in the Federal Decree Law No. (15) of 2021, which is the application for retraction as established in Article No. (187) (bis) of the Civil Procedures Code. The Federal Decree Law No. (15) of 2021 was issued to amend some provisions of the Civil Procedures Code No. (11) of 1992. The Federal Decree Law added a new article No. (187) (bis) stating the method of retraction in final judgments. 

The way in which an application for retraction can be submitted, is as follows:

1. Without prejudice to the first paragraph of Article No. (183) and notwithstanding the provision of Article No. (187) of this law, the court may retract a decision issued in the council chamber, its judgment on its own initiative or at the request of a party against whom the decision or judgment was issued in certain instances:

(a) If the decision or judgment was tainted by a procedural error caused by the court or its organs and that has affected the conclusion reached in its decision or judgment;
(b) If the decision or judgment was based on a repealed law and the application of the correct law would change the opinion reached in the case;
(c) If the decision or judgment was issued in contradiction of established legal principles prescribed by the authority or all the departments of the court as the case may be without being presented thereto or was issued in contradiction of the principles prescribed by the court or issued by the Commission for the Unification of Federal and Local Judicial Principles.

2. An application for retraction by a party against whom the decision or judgment has been issued shall be issued to the President of the Federal Supreme Court or the President of the Court of Cassation, signed by a lawyer who has rights of audience before such court, and accompanied by a security deposit of AED 20,000. If the retraction is on the court’s own initiative, the application shall be referred by its president and accompanied by a report from the court technical office and shall be submitted to the authority stipulated in Clause No. (3) of this article.
3.The application for retraction or the referral stipulated in Clause No. (2) of this article, shall be considered by a panel formed of five of the most senior judges of the court (provided that none of the judges issued the judgment or decision that is being challenged). This panel shall issue a reasoned decision on the application for retraction by a majority of four judges. In case of rejection of the application, the security deposit shall be confiscated. In case of acceptance of the application, the application shall be referred to another circuit to consider and decide on the appeal again. In this case, the security deposit shall be returned to the applicant.
4. In all cases, an application for retraction may only be submitted once, and cannot be made if more than one year has lapsed since the date of issuance of the decision issued in the council chamber or the final judgment.


Article No. (187) (bis) of the Decree Law No. (15) of 2021 stipulates a new method of appeal of final judgments issued by the Court of Cassation in Dubai or Ras Al Khaimah, the Federal Supreme Court, or the Court of Cassation. In an unprecedented step, the Article has set three conditions for applying for a retraction. By issuance of the judgment from the Court of Cassation or the Federal Supreme Court, the dispute between the litigants is over and it becomes impossible to reconsider such dispute again before the court, but the development that the UAE is witnessing, the quick issuance of judgments and the quick renewal of laws were the reason for establishing a new method of appeal.

In review, it becomes clear that the legislator has considered the rules of impartiality and integrity when taking the decision that the application for retraction shall be considered by a panel that does not consider or take part in considering the judgment that is being challenged. This proves that the legislator is aware and vigilant as he prevents the judges who have issued the judgment from taking part in considering the application for retraction. With regards to the applicant, the legislator has set another guarantee representing in paying a security deposit of AED 20,000 to ensure that the applicant is serious. The security deposit shall be confiscated in case of rejection of the application and shall be returned to the applicant in case of acceptance of the application. 

The UAE legislator has set another guarantee to maintain orderly proceedings, which is the time required to submit the application for retraction. The legislator stated that the application for retraction cannot be made if more than one year has lapsed since the date of issuance of the judgment that is being challenged. The legislator has also stated that the application for retraction shall be considered by a panel formed of five of the most senior judges of the court. Therefore, the legislator has set several conditions and guarantees for consideration of the application to ensure that the court and the applicant are serious.

Furthermore, the legislator has set two methods to submit the application for retraction; (1) the application is submitted by the court itself in case of fulfilling one of the conditions; (2) the application is submitted by a party against whom the judgment has been issued.

One of the judicial applications in this regard is the judgment issued by the Court of Cassation in the Appeal before Cassation No. 1145/2021, Commercial Appeal before Cassation. This judgment has established a judicial principle that explains the importance of the application for retraction and the need to adhere to its requirements. This judgment states that: the court of cassation may retract its decision issued in the council chamber or its final judgment on its own initiative or at the request of a party against whom the decision or judgment was issued. Requirements for retraction: the judgments issued by the Court of Cassation are final and cannot be appealed, except for the judgments issued in the subject of the dispute. Such judgments can be appealed under a petition for appeal. Requirements for retraction by the court: the application is submitted to the President of the Court of Cassation and accompanied by a security deposit of AED 20,000. The appellant shall not follow this new method if the appeal is filed under a statement of appeal accompanied by a security deposit of AED 3,000. Its effect: the appeal is not accepted. The two Articles Nos. (187 and 187 bis) of the Civil Procedures Code that are added under the Federal Decree- Law No. (15) of 2021 amending the Civil Procedures Code.

In conclusion, this Article and new method have maintained the proper conduct of proceedings in the UAE and have resolved the problem of rapid law-making process to keep peace with the economic and legal developments in the country, putting the UAE in the ranks of the developed countries. This new method is a bold step to achieve the prompt justice and so that all litigants ensure that their defense, pleas and legal requests are considered, and all objections are submitted to the court before the final adjudication in the subject of the case.


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