UAE adopts largest legislative reforms in its 50-year history

The UAE approved several reforms of the country’s legal system which came after thorough coordination between hundreds of experts at both local and federal entities with consultations from over 100 members from the private sector. The draft of the new laws and legislative amendments came during the “Year of the 50th” which aims to strengthen economic, investment and commercial opportunities, develop social stability, security and guaranteeing the rights of individuals and establishments.

Key Amendments:

  1. Electronic Transactions and Trust Services
  • Digital signatures are now accepted on civil and commercial transactions (marriage, personal status, notary, and real estate services provided that the country where the transaction originates has adopted sophisticated authentication mechanism and trust services similar to the UAE standards.
  1. Industrial Property Rights
  • Aims to protect industrial property and regulate procedures for registration, use, exploitation, and assignment.
  1. Copyrights and Neighboring Rights
  • Covers all substantive issues pertaining to author’s rights and neighboring rights, including the right to determine first publication of the work, the right of writing the work in his name and the right to protest against alteration of the work if the alteration leads to distortion of the author’s intent.
  • It gives benefits for people of determination to enhance their advantage and participation in this vital sector.
  1. Trademarks
  • The amendments on this law gives protection to three-dimensional trademarks, holograms, sound trademarks, and smell trademarks.
  • It also allows the registration of geographical names of products whose name is associated with the names of specific geographic regions, countries or cities and are famous for producing the product.
  • Abolition of the requirement to have a trade license to allow the registration of a trademark.
  • Granting SME owners a temporary protection to protect the trademark of their products during participation in exhibitions.
  1. Commercial Register
  • Allows local authorities to retain the right to establish and manage their commercial records, including data registration, data monitoring and change.
  • Includes the registration of companies and economic institutions in all forms, whether commercial (companies) or professional.
  1. Factoring and Transfer of Civil Accounts Receivable
  • Provides a new regulatory framework which sets out the requirements for assignments and transfers of receivables, validity and perfection requirements, as well as the rules for determining priority amongst competing claims over assigned receivables.
  1. Commercial Companies
  • Allows investors and entrepreneurs to establish and fully own onshore companies in all sectors, excluding a small number of reserved “strategic activities”.
  • Details the approvals and licenses required by companies to undertake commercial activity.
  • Explains the responsibilities of the board of directors, executive management, authorities of the general assembly, prerequisites for issuing bonds and instruments, acquisitions and administrative penalties.
  1. Higher Education Law
  • Provisions of the law apply to all higher education institutions in the country, with exception of those operating in free zones and covers all levels of higher education.
  • Regulates the licensing and sets a legislative framework to approve curricula, encourage scientific framework, and ensure effective governance and management of the institutions.
  1. Federal Crime and Punishment Law
  • Enhances protection for women and domestic servants, strengthens public safety and security provisions and eases restrictions on extra-marital relationships to be enacted from 2 January 2022.
  1. Online Security Law
  • The new law will take effect on 2 January 2022 to address cyber-crimes, online harassment, bullying and fake news.
  • Gives courts the powers to deletion of information, confiscate devices, software, content or other means used in the pursuit of crime.
  1. Data Protection Law
  • The law prohibits the processing of personal data without the consent of its owner, with the exception of some cases in which the processing is necessary to protect public interest, or the processing is related to the personal data that has become available and known to all by an act of the data owner, or that the processing is necessary to carry out any of the legal procedure and rights.
  • Defines the controls for processing of personal data and the general obligations of companies that have personal data and defines their obligations to secure personal data and maintain its confidentiality and privacy.
  • Allows owners the right to request correction of inaccurate data, restrict or stop the processing of personal data. It also sets out the requirements for cross-border transfer and sharing of personal data for processing purposes.
  1. UAE Data Office
  • Establishment of the UAE Data Office to be affiliated by the Cabinet. The office will be responsible to ensure full protection of personal data.

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