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  • Detained in Dubai

UAE Bounced Cheques Decriminalised. What’s the reality?

Are you safe or is it just marketing?

“We only need to look at Qatar to learn what to expect from the UAE”, explains Radha Stirling, founder of Detained in Dubai. “Qatar has claimed bounced cheques have been decriminalised for years but that hasn’t stopped people being arrested. All a cheque recipient has to do is report the crime as ‘fraud’ or ‘theft’ rather than the technical and historical ‘bounced cheque’.

“The sad reality is that while it shows these countries are finally acknowledging how outdated the bounced cheque laws are, there will be no protection until the issue of legal abuse is dealt with.

“We’ve seen the decriminalisation of bounced cheques make headlines for years as have we the failed bankruptcy laws that were supposed to make the UAE safer. We still have numerous people facing prosecution over bounced cheques in both Qatar and the UAE and this is not likely to change. They are simply used as evidence to support another charge.

“People also need to be warned that the decriminalisation of bounced cheques will not afford protection against civil cases that any claimant may wish to take. Civil judgements will result in travel bans, the removal of working visas and potentially prison if the party can’t pay. Thousands of victims of this outdated system remain in the UAE with no working visa, no ability to leave and no ability to work. Many of them have become homeless or died under these circumstances.

“Expats should be reminded that the UAE has not retroactively applied these new laws and so people who have bounced cheques previously, should not suddenly feel they are safe to travel. It is imperative to check one’s status before visiting and risking arrest.