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Under the passport smart guarantee system, in cases of minor offences, the person in question can be released directly from the police station. Picture for illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Pixabay

Duped with a bounced cheque

Question: I got a cheque from someone. I deposited it to the bank five months ago, but it was returned by the bank. It became clear from the bank’s statement that the signature on the cheque did not belong to the cheque issuer. The issuer of the cheque had signed the cheque in front of me and in the presence of my friend. When I opened a case at the police station, I discovered that the original owner of the cheque had filed a case two months ago, claiming that the cheque was lost. My question is how do I secure my rights in this case? I feel that I was exposed to fraud. Given the fact that the amount on the cheque was large, I am afraid that the fraudulent debtor who had given me the cheque will escape. Please advise and thank you.

Answer: Article 401 of Federal Law No 3 of 1987 of the UAE Penal Code states: ‘As amended by Federal Law No 34 dated 24/12/2005, one shall be subject to a jail sentence or a fine if he or she draws in bad faith a cheque without sufficient funds or who, after issuing the cheque, withdraws all or part of the funds from the account, so that the remaining balance is insufficient to cover the amount of the cheque, or issues an order to the drawee bank to stop payment of the cheque, or if he or she deliberately writes or signs the cheque in such a manner so that it is non-payable.’

It is concluded from Article 62 of the UAE Cabinet Resolution No 33 of 2020 (Executive Regulation Amendments), amended by Ministerial Resolution No 57 of 2018 concerning the Executive Regulations of Federal Law No 11 of 1992 on the Civil Procedure Law that: ‘As an exception to the general rules of filing a lawsuit in the first place, the provisions mentioned in the following articles shall be followed if the creditor’s right is established in writing electronically or in a documentary manner. It does not prevent him from requesting for the benefits or compensation or taking any of the precautionary measures and these provisions are followed if the right holder was a creditor of a commercial paper.”

Based on the above, criminal and civil cases can be filed to claim your rights. It is important to note that criminal cases are only filed to impose a criminal penalty varying from fine to imprisonment. However, a civil case is to be registered to seek the amount of the cheque along with any compensation, interests and other precautionary measures including travel ban. In order to receive the true amount of the cheque, the beneficiary is obliged to register a civil case apart from the criminal. It is also important to note that according to Legal Order Law No 1 of 2017, which came into effect in December 2017, people with bounced cheques worth less than Dh200,000 can be punished by prosecution without the case being referred to the judges, with the payment of a maximum fine of Dh10,000.

In a criminal case, you should defend yourself and prove that the drawee signed the cheque in a way to make it not payable — including witnesses, details of the transaction that was the reason for the cheque issuance, including a request to Public Prosecution to refer the cheque to the forensic laboratory for tests.

Bounced cheque cases don’t end with paying the fine or with imprisonment. You can also exercise your rights by opening a civil case against the issuer of the cheque for the amount of the cheque plus compensation and interest. The complainant is also entitled to request the court to issue a travel ban against the person who issued the bounced cheque.

Passport smart guarantee

Question: A questioner from Dubai has a query about passport smart guarantee reservation — whether Public Prosecution can be requested during a criminal investigation to take it into cognizance. Please advise.

Answer: I would like to clarify to the questioner that in implementation of the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to turn Dubai into the smartest city globally, Dubai Public Prosecution has launched a new initiative called ‘Smart Guarantee’ initiative that is aimed at cancelling the passport reservation procedure for the parties subject to accountability in some cases related to misdemeanours and minor cases presented to prosecution. The matter previously required the person who had a case to deposit his passport or the passport of one of his relatives to Dubai Police until all litigation procedures and the decision of the case was completed. The new initiative will be implemented for all citizens and residents of Dubai.

This smart guarantee supports the trends of smart transformation in the emirate and reduces dependence on paper transactions as this procedure will be dispensed with and converted into a smart system in which the passport data is inserted into the electronic system in a manner that guarantees the presence of its owner in the state to attend the investigation and litigation sessions and to implement the ruling, without withholding the actual travel document, thereby allowing them to practise their normal lives and complete any government procedure related to them or their relatives, as a circular is automatically distributed across the system to all state outlets to ensure that these people do not leave their territories until the completion of litigation and adjudication of their cases.

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In addition to facilitating people, the initiative will serve to reduce cases of arrest in minor cases and enable people to manage their affairs and lead their lives in an easy manner, as well as reduce the financial burdens associated with the arrest of the accused and reduce the imprisonment of the accused in cases brought before the Public Prosecution, without prejudice to the implementation of the provisions.

With the intelligent sponsorship system, and in cases of minor offences, the person in question can be released directly from the police station if he is not imprisoned for any other case, without being referred to the prosecution and without seizing his passport. However, if he is detained, he will be released by the Public Prosecution on bail by entering his data into the system without the need to deposit his passport.