Laws against Defamation in the UAE

iStock_000021840548SmallLet me tell you a story today. Once upon a time, there lived a man named ‘A’ who was about to get a high profile job in a company. He had the maximum chances to get the job (compared to his competitors) after the five rounds of interviews and profiling. Everything was going well. Birds chirping, sun shining, an interview for the job coming up, the usual. However, a theft took place in his neighbour’s house one night the night before his interview and there spread rumour that he was the one behind the burglary. And everyone knew the source of the rumour. The local cops arrived in the neighbourhood the next morning and they were also recipients to this rumour. Although they did not have any evidence to detain A, the overwhelmed crowd was enough to prevent A from attending the final round of his interview.‎ After all the investigations, it was revealed that he was, after all, not the culprit and someone in his neighbourhood who had an issue with him had started a rumour, that spread like wildfire. Innocent A paid a hefty price as he lost his job opportunity due to this rumour. Moreover, he was defamed in his own community due to a personal vengeance. Years of reputation – tarnished.

In such situations, could he initiate a claim against his neighbour? Let us find out. In the United Arab Emirates, a person who defames or states something that may degrade (or have a detrimental effect on) the reputation of another person is punishable under the Federal Law Number 3 of 1987 on the Issuance of the Penal Code (the Penal Code). However, the claimant may have to prove that the defendant had committed such defamation.

But what is this detrimental effect? The reputation of a person is said to have been detrimentally affected if that person could be punished or was exposed to public hatred as a consequence of the statement (or in our case, the rumour). Could Mr A‎ be punished because of the rumour? Most likely. Did it instigate public hate? Up to a limit. Chapter 6 bears the title ‘defamatory crimes: libel, violation of secrets and slander’ in the Penal Code. Specifically, Article 371, 372 and 373 of the Penal Code deals with the matter. Article 373 talks about statements that publicly dishonour a person. However, the defence for defamation is the truth. Therefore, these statements should be false accusations, as in the case of Mr A. Although, the Penal Code has not defined the term ‘statement’ or the ambit of what constitutes ‘making a statement’.

Contact STA Law Firm’s litigation lawyers in Sharjah to raise a claim for defamation. If you wish to obtain an overall idea prior to contacting us, click here.


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