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UAE law stipulates that an insurance company shall have the right to deny compensation if a damage to a motor vehicle is caused due to an accident that happened while the vehicle was being driven by a person without a valid licence to drive. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Car driven by minor meets with accident

Question: A month ago, my 17-year-old son was driving my car without my knowledge and he met with an accident that resulted in damages. The driver of the other car and those with him were hospitalised for a week and then discharged. There were major damages to both the cars and an electrical pole was also damaged as a result of the accident. Police detained my son at the police station for a day and then released him on bail. My question is: Firstly, what is the likely punishment that can be handed out to my son, given the fact that he is still a school student? Secondly, the insurance company has refused to pay any compensation on the ground that my son was driving the vehicle without a driving licence. Does the insurance company have the right to refrain from paying compensation? Finally, do the people affected in the accident have the right to demand compensation from us in a civil court?

Answer: The judge may order to take any of the measures stipulated in the law on delinquent and homeless juveniles, as deemed appropriate by him, instead of the prescribed penalties. He may put him under the father’s custody. The prescribed penalty to such an act is stated in Article 394 of the UAE Penal Code that states: “[He or she] Shall be sentenced to detention for a term not exceeding one year and/or to a fine not exceeding Dh10,000, whoever drives a car or scooter or the like without the permission or approval of its owner or its rightful utiliser.” However, Article 63 of the Penal Code states that “The one who has completed seven years, but is under 18 years of age, shall be governed by the provisions stipulated in law on delinquent and homeless juveniles”, which in turn states in Article 8 that “Should the juvenile who completed the age of 16 perpetrate a crime, the judge may order to take any of the measures stipulated in this law, as deemed appropriate by him, instead of the prescribed penalties.

The unified motor vehicle insurance policy against loss and damage and that against party liability grants the company the right to deny compensation if the damage to the motor vehicle is caused due to an accident that happened while the vehicle was being driven by a driver without a licence to drive, according to the Traffic Laws, or without having obtained a driving licence for that specific kind/category of motor vehicle as stipulated by the Traffic Laws and Regulations, or if the driver was holding a driver’s licence that had expired and had not been renewed within 30 days before the date of the accident, or if the licence granted to the driver was suspended by the court or any competent authority or according to the Traffic Regulations.

Finally, the aggrieved party has the right to request for compensation in a civil court. In this case, the case will be filed against you since you are your son’s guardian according to Article 313 of the Civil Transactions Law, which states that “1. No one is liable for the act of another person. However, upon request of the victim, the judge, if he deems it justified, shall order any of the following persons, as the case may be, to pay the damages to which the perpetrator has been sentenced:

A) The person who is, by law or by agreement, entrusted with the supervision of a person who, on account of his or her minority or his or her mental or physical condition, requires supervision, unless he or she proves that he or she has fulfilled his or her duty of supervision, or if the prejudice would have been sustained even if he or she had fulfilled the duty with the care necessary.

B) The one having actual authority to control and guide the perpetrator, even if he or she was not free in his or her choice, if the act was perpetrated by a subordinate in the exercise of the duty.

C) The one who settled the damages is entitled to revert to the person sentenced for payment thereof, in order to recover what he or she had paid.”

Dispute over employment contract

Question: I have been working in a private company for two years with an employment contract certified by the UAE Ministry of Labour. Two months ago, I resigned from my post as the director of the company. I was also a partner in the same company with a 10 per cent share-holding. Currently, the company is refusing to grant me my labour rights as well as my rights as a partner. What is the correct way to follow in order to secure my rights? Should I present my case before a civil or labour court? Is there a certain period within which I can claim my labour rights? Please advise.

Answer: If your terminal dues are to be decided based on a Labour Contract and not according to the company’s Articles of Association, as is the case with you, then you must file a case in the Labour Court and claim all your dues and shares. The Labour Case should be filed within one year from the date of accrual or else you will lose your labour rights according to Article 6 of the UAE Labour Law, which states: “In all cases, no claim for any of the rights provided for in this law shall be heard if brought before the court after the lapse of one year from the date of accrual, nor shall any claim be admitted if the procedures stated in this Article are not complied with.”

The Labour Case shall be proceeded with by way of an application to the competent Labour Department, which shall summon both parties and take whatever action it deems necessary to settle the dispute amicably. If no such amicable settlement is reached, then the said department shall, within two weeks from the date of application, refer the dispute to the competent court.

This was made clear in Dubai Higher Court’s decision No 2010/75 Civil Cassation that said: “The director of the limited liability company, who was appointed in the company’s Articles of Association or in an independent contract by a decision of the general assembly of partners and had great independence in the performance of his or her work, or his or her relationship with the rest of the partners is a relationship based on partnership in the limited liability company in the manner stipulated in its Memorandum of Association and not a working relationship. Therefore, the Commercial Companies Law applies to it and a lawsuit should be filed directly in the Civil Court.

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However, if the employee is appointed by way of a contract that is independent of the company’s Articles of Association and is not linked to it and in return for a wage, and is subject to his or her performance and the direction and supervision of others in charge of the company’s affairs, then he or she shall be considered as one of the workers linked with the company by a work contract due to the availability of legal subordination. In such a scenario, the case needs to be filed with the Labour Court under the provisions of the Law Regulating Labour Relations and must be preceded by the submission of a request by the plaintiff to the competent Labour Department.