Legal Articles: Criminal Law
Cheques in the United Arab Emirates
Since a cheque is meant to replace money, people must have trust in it. Therefore the UAE penal law levied a punishment against anyone issuing insufficient funds its due date. Such a crime is known as the bounce cheque crime.
However, some requirements must be found in a cheque in order to gain the penal law's protection. Those requirements are: 1- the word cheque must be stated clearly in it, 2- states a specific amount, 3- has drawee's name, 4- has the beneficiary's name, 5- states the place of payment, 6- states the cheque's date, 7- has the drawer's name, 8- the drawer's signature.
However if the place of payment was not mentioned on the cheque, then the place stated beside the drawee's name is considered as the place of payment or else the place of payment shall be at the drawee's headquarters office.
Additionally, the payment of the cheque should not be conditional. Whereas, if the payment of the cheque was related to some conditions, and those conditions were not fulfilled, the cheque will still remain due on its date. However, a cheque cannot be paid before the date mentioned in it, as it becomes due only on such date. In case the cheque did not bear a date, then it means that the drawer has delegated the beneficiary to write the date he finds suitable.
The actus reas in a bounce cheque crime is giving the cheque to the beneficiary. Therefore if the drawer made the cheque, but he did not give it to the beneficiary or kept it for himself or it was stolen from him, then he cannot be chargered for bounce cheque crime. Additionally if the drawer was forced or deceived to issue the cheque, he cannot be charged for a bounce cheque crime.
Bounce cheque crime takes place if there was not enough balance to cover the cheque's amount or the amount cannot be withdrawn or the drawer ordered the bank not to pay the cheque's amount. However as stipulated through commercial transactions law the drawer has the right to order the bank not to pay the cheque's amount to the bearer in case he lost the cheque or in case the bearer is bankrupt. Additionally one of the common methods of committing a bounce cheque crime is putting a signature on the cheque different from the one known to the bank, or putting any other signature that will make the cheque invalid.
Unlike many crimes, a bounce cheque crime does not require the incidence of any damages to the victim. Such crime is punishable by imprisonment for period between one year and three years, or a fine between one thousand Dirhams and Thirty thousand Dirhams.
Furthermore, in case of insufficient funds in the account to cover the cheque, the beneficiary has the right to submit a request to the bank in order to pay him the remaining amount in the account as a partial payment.
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