UAE: Can I sue my ex-colleague for making false allegations about me on social media?
Defaming an individual in the UAE is a crime as per the prevailing UAE Cyber Law and the UAE Penal Law.
Question: Recently, I found out that an ex-colleague of mine created rumours about my business practices and shared untrue details about me on social media. His actions have caused considerable loss to my business. Is there any way I can legally challenge my ex-colleague and how can I do it? Can I get compensation for the losses caused?
Pursuant to your queries, it is assumed that you reside and conduct your business in the Emirate of Dubai. You have alleged that one of your ex-colleague has defamed you over social media, therefore the provisions of Federal Decree-Law No. 5 of 2012 on Combating Cybercrimes (the ‘UAE Cyber Law’), the provisions of Federal Law No. 3 of 1987 on the issuance of Penal Code (the ‘UAE Penal Law’) and the provisions of Federal Law No. (5) of 1985 On the Civil Transactions Law of the UAE (the ‘Civil Transactions Law of UAE’) are applicable.
It should be noted that defaming an individual in the UAE is a crime as per the prevailing UAE Cyber Law and the UAE Penal Law. Article 20 of the UAE Cyber Law states that “Without prejudice to the crime of slander determined by the Islamic Sharia, shall be punished by imprisonment and a fine not less than Dh 250,000 and not in excess of Dh 500,000 or either of these two penalties whoever insults or accuses another person of a matter of which he shall be subject to punishment or being held in contempt by others, by using a computer network or information technology means……….”
Further, Article 21(3) of the UAE Cyber Law states that publishing any news or comments by any means of information technology is punishable. The provision of the law reads as “Shall be punished by imprisonment of a period of at least six months and a fine not less than Dh 150,000 and not in excess of Dh 500,000 or either of these two penalties whoever uses a computer network or an electronic information system or any information technology means for the invasion of privacy of another person in other than the cases allowed by the law and by any the following way:
Publishing news, electronic photos or photographs, scenes, comments, statements or information even if true and correct.”
It is a crime in the UAE if a person or an organization is defamed by the form of publishing defamatory statements or information. Such the action of the individual may attract two years of imprisonment and payment of penalties. This is in accordance with Article 372 of the UAE Penal Law, which states, “Shall be sentenced to detention for a term not exceeding two years, or to a fine not in excess of twenty thousand dirhams, whoever attributes to another, through a means of publicity, a fact that makes him object of punishment or contempt.
The penalty shall be detention and/or a fine in case the libel is perpetrated against a public servant or a person in charge of a public service, during or because of the discharge of his duties or performing the public service, or if it affects honour or the reputation of the families, or if it is expected to fulfil an illicit purpose.
In case the libel is done by means of publication in one of the newspapers or printed material, this shall be considered an aggravating circumstance.” You may file a criminal complaint at a police station having jurisdiction or at the Dubai Public Prosecution, against your ex-colleague.
Further, you may also file a civil case against your ex-colleague for defaming you on social media and may claim monetary damages from your ex-colleague. This is according to Article 282 of the Civil Transactions Law of UAE, which states, “The author of any tort, even if not discerning shall be bound to repair the prejudice.”