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Question: Two years ago, I was issued a VISA credit card. I had a small amount of around Dh10,000 outstanding on that card and since then, I had never used the card. However, now it has become clear to me that the bank has obtained a judgement in absentia against me for a much larger amount and currently I cannot travel or renew my residence visa. My question is: Do I have the right to file a civil lawsuit against the bank to prove that this amount claimed by the bank is incorrect? Does the bank have the legal right to file a civil lawsuit against me for such a small amount (Dh10,000) and prevent me from travelling?

Answer: Yes, the bank does have the right to file a case against you, even if the debt amount is Dh10,000 and the court may issue a travel ban against you according to its own estimation based on the satisfaction of certain conditions such as:

A) The creditor should prove the existence of a reasonable fear that the debtor may run away without clearing the debt.

B) The debt amount should be Dh10,000 (ten thousand UAE dirhams) or more.

C) The debt should be definite and due, i.e. unconditionally payable.

The debtor is entitled to object to the travel ban imposed on him or her by filing a complaint with the competent court.

On the other hand, because the judgement was issued in your absence and the bank seemed to have got a performance order against you, you therefore have the right, according to Article 66 (mentioned down), to object to this judgement (through grievance or appeal) and to defend yourself throughout this objection by requesting for an expert to re-calculate the debt amount — including interests — according to the agreement signed by you.

This grievance must be filed within 15 days from the date you were notified about the judgement, if the amount of the claim was less than Dh50,000. If the amount of the claim is more than Dh50,000 then you must file an appeal.

The deadline for objecting to the judgement starts from the date following the notification of the convicted person.

Failure to observe the deadlines for objecting to the judgements will result in forfeiture of the right to object.

Article 66 of the Cabinet Resolution No 33 of 2020 amended Ministerial Resolution No 57 of 2018 concerning the Executive Regulations of Federal Law No 11 of 1992 on the Civil Procedure Law, that states: ‘The litigants may file a grievance against the payment order, if its value is within the limits of the final quorum, to the court of first instance within 15 days from the date of the debtor’s notification of the order and from the date of the issuance of the decision in relation to the creditor.

‘The grievance shall be considered before the competent performance order judge, and it shall be by the usual procedures for filing the lawsuit. When examining the grievance, the procedures and rules followed before the court shall be taken into consideration. The judge shall decide on the grievance with a final judgement that terminates the litigation and is not subject to appeal. Its reasons shall be deposited in the same session.

‘Subject to Clause (1) of this Article, a performance order whose value exceeds the final quorum may be appealed at the Court of First Instance within 15 days, in accordance with the procedures established for appealing the judgements.’

Calculating end-of-service benefits

Question: According to UAE Labour Law, is there a maximum end-of-service amount that a worker is entitled to? Is the bonus amount considered part of end-of-service benefits? If the worker submits his or her resignation, is the employer legally obligated to him or her to issue a return ticket to his or her country? Please advise.

Answer: Yes, there is a ceiling on end-of-service amount, which, according to Article 132 of UAE Labour Law, must ‘not exceed two years’ wages for a worker who has completed more than one year of continuous service’.

It is decided by Dubai Supreme Court in Cassation No 60/2018, labour, and in accordance with the text of Articles (132) and (134) of UAE Labour Law that a worker who has completed a year or more of continuous service is entitled to an end-of-service gratuity, calculated as follows:

1. 21 days’ wages for each year of the first five years of service.

2. The wage of 30 days for each year in excess of that and it is stipulated that the total reward shall not exceed two years’ wages.

Now, the bonus that is paid to a worker is different from end-of-service gratuity. Receiving a bonus does not mean that a worker is not entitled to his or her end-of-service dues. If the bonus is consistent and regular — in accordance with the work contract or company policy — then it is considered a wage paid to the worker in return for the work and is included in the basic wage and the end-of-service benefits should be calculated in accordance with the last basic pay. It is therefore decided, by the judiciary of this court, that in calculating the end-of-service gratuity amount for workers who receive monthly wages, the last basic wage for them shall be taken into consideration and it shall include the wage stipulated in the work contract and any increase in it that has the element of stability. (Cassation No 138/2014, labour.)

3. According to Article (131) Labour, where the reason for the termination of the contract is attributable to the worker, his or her repatriation shall be at his or her own expense. The employer in this regard is the one who must prove that the worker has enough money to pay for his or her ticket. The estimation of such matter is related to the court itself. Article (131) of UAE Labour Law states: ‘Upon expiry of the contract, the employer shall bear the cost of the worker’s repatriation to his or her point of hire or to any other point that was mutually agreed upon. Where a worker joins another employer upon expiry of his or her contract, the latter shall bear the cost of the worker’s repatriation at the end of his or her service. Without prejudice, if the employer fails to pay the worker his or her repatriation expenses, then the competent authorities shall arrange that at the employer’s expense and the same may then be recovered by way of attachment. Where the reason for the termination of the contract is attributable to the worker, his or her repatriation shall be at his or her own expense if he or she has the means to pay’.