Translators for those who do not speak Arabic

KHALID A WAHAB, advocate and legal consultant of Sami Al Midfa law office in Dubai, answers readers' questions and gives his expert views on various issues concerning the law. Queries can be sent to Khaleej Times, Post Box No. 11243, Dubai or faxed to 04-3382238 or e-mailed to

By Focus On Legal Issues

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Published: Sun 4 Apr 2004, 12:07 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 12:55 PM

Th. J., Dubai: I am a British national residing in Dubai. My business partner and I fell into a heated dispute; as a result he filed a complaint against me with the police station. Upon interrogation, the interrogating policeman recorded my statement in the absence of professional translator. When the matter was referred to the public prosecution, I found out certain mistakes in translating my statement before the police. Do I have the right to adhere to this plea despite the fact that I do not know Arabic?

Answer: According to the provisions of article 70 of the Penal Code of Procedure, it is established that wherever any accused, witness or adversary is not speaking Arabic, a translator should be assigned. Although the above stipulation refers to investigations and/or interrogations carried out by the Public Prosecution, its effect extend to reach all other stages of investigations including the minutes of investigation, minutes of interrogation on the imitative of public prosecution or court trials, which are all relating to the defendant's right of defence.

And whereas you were interrogated by the police in the absence of a professional translator, and the interrogating policeman did not prove that you are familiar with the Arabic language; then the police's minutes of interrogation is deemed to be invalid, even if you were interrogated by the public prosecution in presence of a translator. Accordingly, if the case reaches the court, and you adhered to the invalidity of the police's minutes of investigations due to absence of translator, the court will close its eyes to such minutes/records.

F. R., Dubai: I issued eight cheques from the account against an indebtedness payable by me to a person. All of the cheques bounced unpaid and now he is threatening that he will bring eight separate cases against me and have me tried and imprisoned eight times as the cheques carry different dates. Is that true, knowingly that I handed over to him all the eight cheques on the same day?

Answer: It is established by the law that the issue of a number of cheques by one person to another under the same transaction, regardless of the values, numbers or dates of those cheques against which there is not sufficient funds, shall constitute a single inseparable culpable act, which can be verified by way of the bond linking those offences. These facts shall be met with one punishment. Therefore, the person to whom you owe money can do nothing but to file one complaint under the said eight cheques. In case he adopts an unlawful course and file separate complaints, you can inform the investigation authorities (police) or the court of the fact.

H. H., Dubai: I was employed by a company in Dubai on January 2, 2003 and received salary from the date of joining work. However, the official contract with the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs stipulates that my employment commences on April 2003 with a six-month probation period. The company terminated my service on August 1, 2003 without paying my dues on the allegation that I was terminated within the probation period as per the employment contract, knowingly that the actual probation period expired on July 2, 2003. What is the legal advice on my matter?

Answer: It is established under law and jurisprudence that the contents of contracts certified/attested by a public servant (registrar) does not acquire the official nature since the registrar only certifies the authenticity of the signatures of the parties to contract, simply for the reason that the Registrar does not receive such contents from the concerned bodies within the limits of his powers and competencies. This is confirmed by the stipulation of article 7 of the Law of Evidence.

Furthermore, it is established by Honourable Dubai Supreme Court that the understanding of dispute facts, evaluating and outweighing of evidence and adopting or disregarding such evidence is left to the discretion of the Court of Merits in the course of its procedures to reveal the truth and the due right, so long as the court's determination is built on sound grounds in the documents and naturally leading to the conclusion drawn by the court.

It is also established that the Employment Contract issued by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs is a customary (in private form) contract, which is endorsed by the public servant to signify that it is in agreement with the law. Thus, it is a customary contract acquiring no official nature.

Based on the above, if you have salary slips for the months of January, February and March 2003 to prove your being employed during such period before the contract is concluded, then the company has wrongfully terminated your service as you have passed the probation period. Consequently, you are entitled to all subsequent dues.

Gh. M, Dubai: I run my own business in Dubai. I sold some goods to one person against post-dated cheques and granted him a 90-day credit period. After that the cheque returned unpaid. My questions are:

(1) Can I claim for the value of the goods (cheques) together with the interest?

(2) Is the interest, as a friend told me, considered to be usury under the UAE laws?

Answer: The usury on deferment (of payment of debt or loan) is considered as a crime under the provisions of article 409 of the Penal Code, where natural persons are forbidden to deal with. It means any benefit or interest, whether apparent or concealed, in consideration for no real service or benefit, which is made conditional by the creditor against the deferment of the debt for him. While the legal interests adjudged for the creditor in case the payment of debt is delayed beyond the maturity date is not deemed to be usury, simply for the reason that it is a form of compensation to him for the damage suffered due to procrastination in payment of debt and preventing him from benefiting by his right.

It is an presumed damage the contrary of which cannot be proved and as a result the creditor should be compensated for the debtor's fault, which is represented in the delay of payment. The fact that the interest is specified to a fixed rate does not affect its nature as a compensation nor does this have any effect on its legality, so long as it is within the limits specified under the provisions of articles 76, 77 and 88 of the Commercial Code of Practice and with a maximum of 12 per cent. The legal interest you are entitled to claim is meant to be a compensation to you for the buyer's delay in payment. - Compiled by Mustafa Barakat

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