Dubai: Can I sue a friend who refuses to pay debt?

Reader asks if he can recover money by submitting a WhatsApp conversation as proof



by

Ashish Mehta

Published: Sun 11 Sep 2022, 11:17 AM

Last updated: Sun 11 Sep 2022, 5:17 PM

Question: I loaned a significant amount of money to my friend a year back. I have been trying to recover it from him for months now. He is refusing to pay it back, even though he has the financial means to do so. How can I recover the money? All I have as proof that I loaned the money is a WhatsApp conversation between us. The conversation has details of him asking for the money, me agreeing, a screenshot of the money being transferred and his acknowledgement. He says in the message that he will return the money in "two-three months".

Response: Pursuant to your queries, it is assumed that you are resident of Dubai. The provisions of Federal Decree Law No. 46 of 2021 related to Electronic Transactions and Trust Services (the ‘Electronic Transactions Law’) and those of Cabinet Resolution No.57 of 2018 Concerning Implementing Regulations of Federal Law No. 11 of 1992 (the ‘Cabinet Resolution No.57 of 2018 on Civil Procedure Law of UAE ’) are applicable.

In the UAE, it is pertinent to note that WhatsApp messages may be considered as an electronic form of messages which may be used as documentary evidence. This is in accordance with Article 5 of the Electronic Transactions Law, which states: “(1) No electronic document shall be denied legal effect or evidential weightage solely on the grounds that it is in an electronic form.

(2) No information recorded in an electronic document shall be denied legal evidential value -if the detail of such information is available for review within the electronic system of the originator, and a reference in the electronic documents is made to how it can be reviewed."

Based on the aforementioned provision of law and exchange of WhatsApp messages between you and your friend shall be considered documentary evidence. Therefore, you may consider filing a civil case in the Dubai Courts against your friend to recover the money which you lent to him in accordance with Article 16 (1) of the Cabinet Resolution No.57 of 2018 on Civil Procedure Law of UAE, which states: “1- The lawsuit shall be filed before the Court, upon the plaintiffs’ request, by submitting his statement of claim to the case management office electronically or in writing as applicable in the Court.”

Along with your statement of claim, you (as a claimant) need to submit the copies of identification proof, address, email address, mobile and phone number for you and your friend.

However, if your claim amount is less than Dh500,000, you need to start with filing a case against your friend at the Centre for Amicable Settlements of Disputes at Dubai Courts (the ‘Amicable Settlement Centre’).

Ashish Mehta is the founder and Managing Partner of Ashish Mehta & Associates. He is qualified to practise law in Dubai, the United Kingdom and India. Full details of his firm on: www.amalawyers.com. Readers may e-mail their questions to: news@khaleejtimes.com or send them to Legal View, Khaleej Times, PO Box 11243, Dubai.

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