Question 1: My husband has been serving a jail sentence for more than one year due to an unpaid cheque. The sentence period determined by the criminal court will expire in one month. My question here is: upon expiry of the said period, will my husband be released from jail despite the fact that he has been unable to pay the cheque amount? Will his passport that has been impounded by the court be released? Can he travel to his home country? I have already checked with the police and he is not involved in any other case.


Answer: I would like to clarify to the questioner that if the person who received the cheque has not filed a civil case before a civil court claiming the cheque value, in such event the questioner’s husband would be released from the jail upon expiry of jail term. He may take his passport and travel to his home country as he will not be obliged to pay the cheque value unless a judgement has been issued by a civil court.


Question 2: Three months ago, I rented a warehouse in Sharjah industrial area from a real estate office and have paid them all the agreed instalments in postdated cheques as per the tenancy contract. I have done some modifications in the warehouse as per requirements of the Sharjah Economic Department in order to get my trade licence. The problem is that the real estate office has not ratified the tenancy contract in the municipality till date as agreed at the time I signed the tenancy contract with the real estate office, but it’s not mentioned in my tenancy contract that the landlord has to ratify the tenancy contract. Now they are telling me that the ratification fee should be on the account of the tenant. When I approached the concerned department where they were supposed to ratify the tenancy contract, they told me that ratification charges shall be on the account of the landlord but the real estate office still insists that, as a tenant, I’m supposed to pay for the ratification of the tenancy contract. They insist this is my responsibility rather than the landlord’s responsibility, which it is as per the Sharjah rental law. I’m totally confused in this regard as the real estate agency maintains that the ratification shall legally be at the expense of the landlord if it is so agreed in the tenancy contract. My question here is: What is my position in this matter as per the applicable rental law in Sharjah — whether the landlord is obliged to pay for the contract ratification and, if so, what legal action should I take to force the landlord to ratify the contract. If I do not ratify the contract within two weeks, he will terminate the contract and I stand to lose all the post-dated cheques given to him in advance. I also came to know that a fine has been issued because we did not ratify the tenancy contract on time.


Answer: I would like to clarify to the questioner that Law No 2 of 2007 regarding the relationship between landlord and tenant in Sharjah states the following: The landlord shall ratify the lease contract or renew the period of the same and pay an applicable fee to the municipality or the concerned authority unless otherwise agreed by the parties, contract shall be ratified within 15 days from the date thereof. Hereby, based on the above article, in the event of failure to reach an amicable solution with the real estate office in this regard, the questioner shall apply to the executive judge of the Rent Committee to direct the landlord to ratify the said contract and pay the fine as well.


Question 3: I worked in a company for more than six and a half years under an unlimited period contract. Last year I signed a new contract for a limited period, which is to expire in October 2017. A month ago I submitted my resignation as I got a job offer with a better salary and commission as well. The employer mentioned that he will not provide me with NOC to transfer the sponsorship and he would request from the Ministry of Labour to impose a one-year ban on me and, as per my employer, I should also pay compensation equivalent to 45 days salary as per the UAE Labour Law. My question here is: 1. What are my labour rights in this case, according to UAE labour law? 2. Is the employer entitled by law to request the Ministry of Labour to impose a one-year ban on me? My service is more than six years. Am I entitled to claim for compensation for my pending one-month leave since I have not received any compensation for the same? How will the end-of-service gratuity be calculated. 3. As per the UAE Labour Law, in my case does the labour law consider my contract a limited labour contract or unlimited labour contract because my previous labour contract was unlimited and it was for more than five years. Please advise.


Answer 3: I would like to clarify to the questioner that as per the UAE Labour law the questioner’s labour contract is a limited labour contract because the questioner already agreed to change the unlimited labour contract to a limited labour contract; therefore he has violated the Labour Law when he terminated the current employment limited contract. In such case, the questioner is not entitled to end-of-service gratuity and, as per the law, he is entitled to leave allowance only. As for providing the employer with compensation for a salary equivalent to 45 days, this depends on the proof provided by the employer before the competent court that he had been affected by the termination of contract pre-term and, accordingly, the same court will give a decision in this regard. Finally, the employer may request the Ministry of Labour to impose a one-year ban on the questioner for such a breach, whereupon the Ministry of Labour might respond to the employer’s request and impose a year’s ban.


(Questions posed in the Ask the Law segment are answered by lawyer Mohammad Ebrahim Al Shaiba, of Al Shaiba Advocates and Legal Consultants)