Question 1: A woman asks: Two weeks ago I visited a store at a well-known mall. I paid for my purchase and when I was leaving the alarm went off. The cashier insisted on searching my handbag but I refused and asked him to call the police. He wouldn’t call the police and also wouldn’t let me leave the shop. I asked to speak to the shop manager, unfortunately he was not there. I told the cashier to check the security cameras, he refused to do this. Finally he called a female employee to search my bag, she did and told him that there was nothing there. I was accompanied by a friend at the time. Does anyone who is not a policeman or policewoman have the right to search people? What if the alarm went off and they insisted on a personal search of my body and clothes? What are my rights as a customer and a wrongly accused person who feels it is very insulting to go through this simply because the store’s alarm was not configured correctly? What about all the security cameras and other ways to prove that I didn’t steal from the shop without embarrassing and insulting me in this way?

Answer 1: Such behaviour by the store is against the law and the employee is not entitled to infringe on somebody’s rights or search people unless they give their consent or as per specific situations determined by the law and the concerned authorities only. Therefore, the questioner may file a complaint before the police or the public prosecution against the shop and the person who searched the questioner, thus the said person may be referred to the criminal court. Also, the questioner may file a case before the civil court against the shop to claim for compensation for moral damages incurred by the questioner due to such illegal action.

Unsatisfactory performance

Question 2: A reader from Dubai asks: I have worked as sales manager for a Dubai factory for the past three years. Recently they asked me to leave and gave me two months’ notice. My contract is for an unlimited period and it is mentioned in the contract that my notice period is for two months in case either party breaks the contract, citing “unsatisfactory performance”. I spoke with my general manager and asked him if there was a problem with my performance at work but he said there wasn’t. I wrote a letter to the HR manager, (and copied in the general manager) asking for an explanation for this remark and how they can say my performance has suddenly become unsatisfactory when no appraisal has been done for me for the past two years. Nobody has ever hinted in writing anything about my performance. Do I have the right to file a complaint to claim compensation against the employer for unfair termination?

Answer 2: The questioner may have been arbitrarily dismissed, especially as the law requires that an investigation be carried out with the said employee, notifying him in writing, and attaching the result of the investigation in his file. Therefore, I advise the questioner to file a complaint before the Ministry of Labour and the labour court to claim all his rights in addition to compensation for arbitrary dismissal.

Bounced cheque

Question 3: A questioner from Dubai asks: Seven months ago I leased my villa to someone for Dh300,000, the tenant gave me two cheques; one of which was post-dated. On the date of the second cheque, I submitted it to the bank, it was returned unpaid due to insufficient funds as per the bank report. I submitted the said cheque to the police and then the issuer of the cheque was referred to the criminal court by the prosecution. The court subsequently punished the cheque issuer by sentencing him to three months in jail. When I went to the Civil Court to register the case to claim the value of the cheque I was told in the registration department that I may not register such a case before this court. I need to register it before the Rental Judicial Committee on the basis that it is a rental relationship. Why can’t I register this case before the civil court to claim my right? The criminal court accepted it and did not state that it is for rental purposes and so punished the cheque issuer.

Answer 3: The civil court’s advice not to register the case on the basis that it is a rental relationship is true, as the civil court does not have the jurisdiction to consider rental cases, they should be registered before the Judicial Committee related to rent disputes. As for the inquiry about this case being accepted by the criminal court, the latter has punished the issuer of the cheque for writing a cheque without funds which is deemed as a crime to be addressed by such a court regardless of the reason for the cheque.

Readers’ questions answered by Mohammad Ebrahim Al Shaiba of Al Shaiba Advocates and Legal Consultants.