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UAE law: Can I sue someone who insulted me via WhatsApp?

Ashish Mehta/Dubai
Filed on January 15, 2020 | Last updated on January 15, 2020 at 07.07 am
legal view, law, sue, someone, colleague, defame, insult, whatsapp, social media, online

(Alamy)

Know the details and penalties of such act.

Q: My colleague has insulted me on WhatsApp because of some work-related issues. Can I file a case against the person? What is the legal procedure I should follow? I have the messages on my phone as proof.

A: Insulting any individual in the UAE is a criminal offence. This is in accordance with Article 374 of the Federal Law No. 3 of 1987 in issuance of Penal Code of UAE (UAE Penal Code). The provision reads: "Shall be sentenced to detention for a maximum period of six months or to a fine not exceeding Dh5,000, in case the libel or insult takes place through the telephone or facing the victim in the presence of others.

"The penalty shall be a fine not exceeding Dh5,000 if the libel or insult takes place facing the victim without the presence of a third party or in a letter dispatched to him by any means whatsoever."

Further, it may be noted that in the UAE, insulting or offending any individual through any information technology or electronic means is also a criminal offence.

This is in accordance with Article 21 of the Federal Law No. 5 of 2012 on Combating Cybercrimes (Cyber Law). "Shall also be punished by imprisonment for a period of at least one year and a fine not less than Dh250,000 and not in excess of Dh500,000 or either of these two penalties whoever uses an electronic information system or any information technology means for amending or processing a record, photo or scene for the purpose of defamation of or offending another person or for attacking or invading his privacy."

A criminal action may be filed upon a written or verbal complaint pertaining to an offence related to insult and slander. This is in accordance with Article 10 (4) of the Federal Law No. 35 of 1992 related to Criminal Procedure Law.

The provision as stated, reads as follows: "The criminal action may not be lodged, in the following cases, except upon a written or verbal complaint of the victim or his legal representative: (4) Insult and Slander."

This means you may lodge a criminal complaint against your colleague with the public prosecutor or a police station.

The public prosecutor will investigate the complaint and register a case, if an offence is deemed to have been committed.

KNOW THE LAW

A person who uses information technology to process a record, photo or scene to defame or offend another person can be punished by imprisonment for a period of at least one year or a fine not less than Dh250,000 and not in excess of Dh500,000.

Ashish Mehta is the founder and Managing Partner of Ashish Mehta & Associates. He is qualified to practise law in Dubai, the United Kingdom, Singapore 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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