Fines instead of jail sentences for bounced cheques




From a bounced cheque to an outstanding apartment rent, many offenders will no longer be put to jail. A new system has come into effect in Dubai. It allows the public prosecution to settle minor offence cases by imposing fines, instead of referring the defendant to Dubai Courts.

Recently, a range of minor offences have been downgraded to misdemeanors. Referring to these misbehaviors, Dubai Courts has recently decided to issue fines instead of jail sentences. The list of misdemeanors is limited to certain misbehaviors and includes bounced cheques with an amount up to Dh200,000. These bounced cheques now can be dealt with by imposing a fine, instead of referring the defendant to court.

The list of misdemeanors is limited, but includes cases relating to the following misbehaviors:

• Failure to pay fees or costs for food, car or property rent of not more than Dh50,000
• Defamation and cursing (excluding government sector employees)
• Attempting a suicide that failed
• Bounced cheques for amounts not exceeding Dh200,000

The decision by Dubai Courts to issue fines instead of jail sentences for bounced cheques will help to instill confidence among the business community and ensure that those in debt can resolve their issues, said Hamad Buamim, president and CEO of Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Other financial and legal experts called the decision to issue fines instead of jail sentences for bounced cheques a step in the right direction to ensure those in chronic debt can resolve their issues. Sending debtors to prison benefits neither the courts, nor the banks, nor individuals.

In Dubai, cheque cases with an amount less than Dh200,000 shall only be punishable by fine. The fine varies between Dh2,000 to Dh10,000 depending on the cheque value. Those responsible for bounced cheques of up to Dh50,000 will be fined Dh2,000. Cheques between Dh50,000 and Dh100,000 will result in a Dh5,000 fine. For cheques between Dh100,000 and Dh200,000 a fine of Dh10,000 will be imposed.

However, the complainant still has the right to file a civil case to claim the cheque value and an interest rate starting from the cheque date. Furthermore, the claimant can request the court to enforce the payment of the court fees and legal costs. Additionally, the complainant also has the right to request the civil courts to cease your company bank account up to the amount of Dh200,000 until the civil case is decided. The claimant can also request the civil courts to issue a travel ban until the civil court issued its final decision and the claimed amount, plus fees and costs, are finally paid.