(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Bad cheque cases used to keep the Dubai Courts busy day in and day out - but when the criminal order initiative was implemented two years ago, thousands of such cases were being settled right at the police station, with no courts involved.
Latest statistics released by the Dubai Public Prosecution showed that 30,618 misdemeanour cases have been resolved by public prosecutors at police stations across the emirate since the launch of the initiative in 2017. And 87 per cent of these cases - or 26,765 - were those of bounced cheques.
For Attorney-General Eissam Issa Al Humaidan, the legislation of the criminal order has made a breakthrough in the judicial system in Dubai.
In a nutshell, the initiative allows the Dubai Public Prosecution to issue a criminal order for a number of misdemeanour cases. Instead of having to appear in court for a trial, people are able to settle their minor criminal cases at police stations by paying fines.
In the past, bad cheque cases used to hamper the work of individuals and businesses as the people involved had to free up their schedules and make time for court procedures,
Egyptian lawyer Hani Hammouda explained.
On top of it all, they had to worry about the financial losses they have incurred due to the legal trouble; they had to serve their time behind bars; and their business operations were blocked until all payments were settled, he added.
"Now, such cases were settled within 24 hours, thanks to the criminal order law, which was issued by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai," said Hammouda, from Kefah Al Zaabi Office for Advocacy and Legal Consultancy.
"In addition to the one-day case initiative, it aims to cut down the phases of case settlement to two stages, starting from the investigation and ending with the execution of the ruling, all within 24 hours only."
The criminal order initiative has contributed to "a great extent" in raising the rate of dismissal of such cases, minimising costs, and decreasing the number of people at the Dubai Courts and the public prosecution, Hammouda told Khaleej Times.
Since then, most bad cheque cases have been dealt with at police stations, including those in Al Muraqqabat and Al Barsha.
However, if the criminal order is not implemented and the defendant refuses to pay the fine, a judge steps in and the case is taken to court.
"The judge does not only look into the causes that prompted the person to issue and sign the cheque but would also take into consideration their conditions, whether they have a criminal record and if they are frequent offenders. He would also take into consideration the amount of the cheque. In the light of the above-mentioned circumstances, the judge decides the amount of fine or jail time in some cases," the lawyer said.
He also noted that public prosecutors may only take charge of the criminal aspect of the case. If a complainant decides to file a civil lawsuit for damages, the bounced cheque case will be heard in court.
The person may also approach the judge with a plea to issue a travel ban against the defendant.
The accused, on the other hand, may object to the criminal order within seven days at the Dubai Courts. Then, a judge would decide according to the circumstances of the case.
Originally from Lebanon, Marie has been covering the Dubai Courts and the Public Prosecution, immigration and labour issues often, and the Dubai International Film Festival. A graduate from the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik, Jounieh, a city to the north of Beirut, she worked as an in-house reporter of international affairs at a leading TV station back home and a legal translator for a renowned law academy in the Lebanese capital. Speaks fluently four languages and is fond of travelling, psychology, learning more, and has grown by now a rich criminal imagination...