Courts Mandate Valuation of Claims by Litigants
On 28 October 2019, the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department (ADJD) ordered the departments of the Abu Dhabi Courts to inspect claims and counterclaims at all levels of the Court to ensure that litigants have quantified their claims/requests in their submissions at the time of filing.
Abu Dhabi Law No. 13/2017 provides that for lawsuits of unknown value, a fixed fee applies of AED 1,500 for summary matters, and AED 4,000 for plenary matters, with the remainder of the fees to be paid once the final judgment is pronounced.
Notwithstanding, the ADJD stated that parties – both plaintiffs and defendants in their claims and counterclaims respectively – may avoid including quantum of their claims in an attempt to avoid court fees.
Hence, litigants with claims that are prima facie quantifiable must include the value therein to avoid the risk of claims being rejected by the Abu Dhabi Courts. (See below for types of cases and valuation methods.)
The ADJD also noted that the same requirements apply to claims before the Appeal and Cassation Courts.
Departments that are required to inspect claim values are the Abu Dhabi Court Case Management Office, the outsource services centers (such as Tasheel), the Heads of the Court registration departments, and Heads of Court case preparation departments.
Abu Dhabi Law No. 13/2017 grants the Abu Dhabi Courts authority to dismiss the case in case it is found during the proceedings that the fees paid were not commensurate with the claims or not duly collected.
The Civil Procedures Law No. 11 of 1992 as amended by Cabinet Decision No. 57 of 2018 that came into effect in early 2019 requires the value of the lawsuit to be assessed on the day of its filing and in all cases to be based on the litigants’ latest demands. The value of the lawsuit shall include any interests, indemnities, revenues, expenses and other appurtenances of which value is estimated, due on the day of its filing.
With respect to non-cash claims that require valuation per the Civil Procedures Law (as amended), the valuation methods are:
- Where the currency of the claim is other than Emirati Dirhams, a conversion to Emirati Dirhams would take place.
- Real estate ownership matters where valuation would be based on the real estate’s value. If the value of the property is not assessed, it shall be considered to exceed one million dirhams.
- Requests for validity, nullification, or rescission of a contract shall be based on the value of the subject matter contract.
- Actions relating to the dissolution or liquidation of a company are valuated based on the capital of the company at the time of filing the suit.
- Eviction suits are valuated based on the annual rental value.
- Suits between creditors and debtors regarding the seizure or an auxiliary real right are valuated based on the debt’s value or value of the property/real right seized, whichever is less.
The provided list is non-exhaustive but provides litigants with an idea of the factors in valuating court fees.
The Abu Dhabi Court fees are 5% of the value of civil lawsuits with a minimum of AED 100 and a maximum of AED 40,000. This is applicable to the Primary and Appeal Courts. The Cassation Court fees are a fixed fee of AED 2,000 for every appeal in cassation, with an AED 3,000 deposit with the court treasury as a guarantee that is refunded if the judgment is in favor of the appellant.