UAE: Up to Dh200,000 fine, jail term; penalties for violating mental health law explained

The newly introduced Federal Law will come into effect from May 30, 2024


Waheed Abbas

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Image used for illustrative purpose. Photo: File
Image used for illustrative purpose. Photo: File

Published: Wed 7 Feb 2024, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Thu 8 Feb 2024, 9:43 AM

Individuals assigned to treat or take care of mental health patients in the UAE could face up to Dh200,000 fine and a minimum of one-year imprisonment in case of mistreatment or negligence causing serious injury or physical disability to the patient.

This comes in the newly introduced Federal Law No. (10) of 2023 on Mental Health which contains a wide range of new provisions as well as fines and penalties related to mental health patients.

Published in the Official Gazette on November 30, 2023, the law will come into effect from May 30, 2024.

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Stephen Ballantine, senior counsel, Galadari Advocates and Legal Consultants, said the law provides stiff penalties for those who intentionally provide inaccurate information intended to either have a person admitted or discharged for a mental health facility or – in bad faith — cause a person to be admitted contrary to the law.

“Any person in charge of guarding and/or taking care and/or treating any mental health patient who intentionally mistreats or neglects that person could face jail for up to one year and a fine of not less than Dh50,000 and not exceeding Dh100,000. If the mistreatment or neglect causes serious injury or physical disability of the patient, then the jail term is increased to a minimum of one year and/or a fine of between Dh100,000 and Dh200,000,” said Ballantine.

Stephen Ballantine. Photo: Supplied
Stephen Ballantine. Photo: Supplied

“In case of recidivism, the penalties are doubled. These penalties stand in addition to liability for any regulatory breaches of medical professionals provided for elsewhere or civil liability pursuant to the general law,” he said.

In addition, the law also imposes imprisonment or a fine of not less than Dh50,000 and not exceeding Dh200,000, or one of the either, if anyone intentionally states in his/her medical report a condition contrary to reality regarding the psychiatric condition of a person with the intention of admitting or discharging them from a mental health facility.

Also, whoever assists a person subject to compulsory admission to escape shall be punished with imprisonment for no more than three months and a fine of no less than Dh50,000 and not exceeding Dh100,000 or one of these two penalties.

Ballantine added that penalties were introduced to make sure that those suffering from mental health conditions were adequately cared for and received the respect that they deserved.

He elaborated that the updated law reinforces the rights of mental health patients, particularly in instances of compulsory admissions in the private and public sectors and introduces a new supervising committee for mental health services – The Control and Follow-up Committee (CFC) – in each health authority.

The CFC will also supervise and act as an appeal/review body of the decisions of the new Patients’ Rights Committees (PRCs) which are to be created within mental health facilities and manned by various mental health professionals working within that facility.

The Patients’ Rights Committee’s decisions on the patient’s complaints may be appealed by the patient or the medical director of the facility. The CFC is required to give a decision within six working days.


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