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Prominent Changes in the Law of Regulating the Legal Profession

<span “font-size: 14pt; color: #d99b4b;”>Effective from 2 January 2023, Federal Law No. 23 of 1991 of regulating Legal Profession (“the Old Law”) will be repealed and replaced by Decree-Law No. 34 of 2022 of regulating the Advocacy and Legal Consultancy Professions (“the New Law”).

<span “font-size: 14pt; color: #221551;”>The New Law welcomes important reforms and amendments, some of which were not permitted under “the Old Law.” This alert summarizes the relevant amendments as follows:

<span “color: #221551; font-size: 14pt;”>1) Lawyers are allowed to practice commercial and investment activities:
The legislation, by Article 42 of the New Law, excludes the practice of certain commercial businesses. The lawyer may be a founder, shareholder, or partner in a company where his liability is limited to the contribution or shareholding he provides in its capital. Also, he may own financial and real estate assets and invest in them.

<span “color: #221551; font-size: 14pt;”>2) The New Law allows lawyers to agree contingent fees with their client, such as a percentage of the awarded value (judgment) for professional fees, subject to several conditions:
Articles 55 and 49 of the New Law allows a percentage of the value of the award to be agreed as professional fees, provided this percentage does not exceed 25% of the awarded value. The implementing regulations of the New Law sets the conditions for entitlement to these professional fees which shall not be due if the case is lost. 

<span “color: #221551; font-size: 14pt;”>3) The legal advisor is liable now for his professional mistakes:
<span “color: #221551; font-size: 14pt;”>The legislator now holds the legal advisor accountable and liable for his professional mistakes, whereas such accountability in the Old Law was limited to lawyers only.

<span “color: #221551; font-size: 14pt;”>4) Adding a fine as a disciplinary action:
Article 86 of the New Law expanded on the Old Law on the disciplinary action of warning, suspension, and deletion by imposing an administrative fine of no less than AED 5000 and not exceeding AED 30,000.

<span “color: #221551; font-size: 14pt;”>5) The number of years working in the Public Prosecution and judiciary required for the enrolment in the table of practicing lawyers has increased:
Article 14 of the New Law stipulates that those who previously worked in the judiciary or public prosecution office, or at legal departments of ministries or government agencies, or a work equivalent to the legal profession for a period of no less than three years (instead of two years under the Old Law) may be enrolled in the table of practicing lawyers. 

<span “color: #221551; font-size: 14pt;”>6) Opening more than one office in the same emirate:
Article 73 of the New Law states that if more than one office is opened in any of the Emirates, each must have at least one lawyer or legal consultant enrolled in the table of practicing lawyers or legal consultants, while this was not required by the Old Law.