Did you know that recording conversation is a punishable crime in UAE?

Did you know that recording conversation is a punishable crime in UAE?

A punishment of confinement and fine shall be inflicted on any person who records or transmits a conversation or taking pictures without the victim's consent.

By Ashish Mehta

Published: Sun 23 Sep 2018, 4:37 PM

Last updated: Mon 24 Sep 2018, 9:18 AM

I have a case in which a client owes over Dh2,000 to my company for more than a year, but is not coming forward to settle it. The amount is payable for services we rendered to him, but he did not sign any documents.
Over the phone, however, he acknowledges that he owes us the money and will pay "next week", although that time never comes.
All the phone conversations have been recorded as proof. Please advise whether such recordings have legal value, and whether they would be useful if we bring him to court on these grounds?
It may be acceptable in the UAE to have oral contracts although in the event of the same proceeding to court due to default by either party, the burden of proving the existence of a contract would primarily be through the means of witness evidence. And it may be highly unlikely for such evidence to be accepted without any submission of documents in the form of an arrangement/agreement and such evidence would be at the discretion of the courts whether to accept the same or not. Further the onus to prove the debt shall be upon the claimant.
Further, Article 378 of Federal Law No.(3) of 1987 of the Penal Code as amended by Federal Law No. 34 of 2005 states that:
"A punishment of confinement and fine shall be inflicted on any person who attacks the sanctity of individuals' private or family life by committing any of the following acts in other than the legally permitted cases or without the victim's consent:
a: Eavesdropping or recording or transmitting by any system of whatever kind, any conversation held at a particular place or via the phone or any other set.
b: Picking up or transmitting by any system of whatever kind, a person's picture at a particular place. If the acts referred to in the above two cases during a meeting within the hearing or sight of the person attending, their consent shall be required.
The same punishment shall be inflicted on any person who publishes through any means - news, pictures or comments pertaining to the secrets of people's private or familial lives even if the same is true. A punishment of confinement for a period not exceeding seven years and a fine shall be inflicted on any public officer who commits any of the acts described in this article depending on his functionary authority.
In all cases, systems and other tools used in the crime shall be confiscated and the recordings found shall be obliterated or destroyed"
In view of the aforesaid provision of law it is assumed that you have not obtained consent from your client to record his telephonic conversations and therefore you may not have the option of using the recorded conversations as evidence in court proceedings.
Resignation or termination?
I have been working as a chemist in a lubricant company in Hamariya Free Zone, Sharjah, since March 2014. Two days ago, my HR manager told me that the company is cutting costs, which will result in the termination of some employees, including me. He asked me to submit my resignation, or else the company will terminate me.
Is there any difference in benefits if I resign rather than be terminated? Are the end of service benefits the same? Will I get a ban if I find the same profile job in Hamariya Free Zone?
Pursuant to your questions, you have not mentioned whether your employment contract is of limited or unlimited duration. In Hamariya Free Zone, matters pertaining to employment is governed by the provisions of Federal Law No. 8 of 1980, relating to Regulation of Labour Relations (the "Labour Law").
Please note that in compliance to Article 115, 116, 117, 120 and 122 of Federal Law no. 8 of 1980 coupled with the Minister of Labour's Decree 765 of 2015, in the event your contract is a limited period contract, and if either party to the contract (employer or employee) acts unilaterally to terminate a contract, then the following conditions are to be followed by the terminating party:
"a. Notify the other party in writing of its intent to terminate the contract in accordance with the notice period to be agreed to by the two parties, not to be less than one month and not to exceed three months. If renewal occurred before this decree enters into effect and the parties had not agreed to a notice period, this notice period shall be three months.
In addition to these conditions, the terminating party will bear the legal consequences of such early termination. If the employee does not fall within the prescribed conditions for termination by an employer under Article 120 of the Labour Law, then the employer's act of termination in such situation may result in the same being considered as arbitrary termination, under Article 122 of the Labour Law which states: A worker's service shall be deemed to have been arbitrarily terminated by his employer if the reason for the termination is irrelevant to the work and, more particularly, if the reason is that the worker has submitted a serious complaint to the competent authorities or has instituted legal proceedings against the employer that has proved to be valid."
If the employment contract is of an unlimited period then the following mandated procedures as per Minister of Labour's Decree 765 of 2015 for termination would apply:
"a) The two parties' consent to termination.
b) One party acts, at any time, to terminate the contract subject to notifying the other party and continuing to honour contractual obligations for the duration of the notice period, which cannot be less than one month and cannot exceed three months.
c) One party (Employer or Worker) acts unilaterally to terminate the contract, without complying with the legal conditions described in (2) above and without reason of non-compliance by the other party; in this case, the terminating party bears any legal consequences of early termination.
d) The Employer acts to terminate the contract of a worker who commits any of the violations that are described in Article 120 of the Federal Labour Law (it is presumed that you do not fall under the purview of Article 120). Ultimately the notice period would be as per your employment contract.
It may also be noted that you are entitled to receive severance pay in accordance with the number of years of your employment with the employer. This is in accordance with Article 132 of the Labour Law which states: "A worker who has completed a period of one or more years of continuous service shall be entitled to severance pay on the termination of his employment. The days of absence from work without pay shall not be included in calculating the period of service.
In pursuance of the forgoing under Article 137: "If an employee under a contract with unlimited period has left his work at his own option after a continuous service of not less than one year and not more than three years, he shall be entitled to one third of the end of service gratuity" and as per article 138, "If an employee under a contract with limited period leaves his work at his own option before the end of the contract period, he shall not be entitled to end of service gratuity unless the period of his continuous service exceeds five years."
Since you have completed the necessary threshold period of service i.e. minimum of 6 months and if your employer terminates you, then you may not be subject to a ban in either a limited period or an unlimited period employment contract pursuant to provisions of Ministerial Decree No.766 of 2015, as long as the duration of the notice period is served by the employee and the necessary obligations are performed as per the contract, although the employer would be subject to pay compensation to the employee for early termination which shall not exceed three months' gross wages. If you terminate the contract and pay the early termination dues to your company, the ban may not be applicable.
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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