According to sources in Dubai, bank guarantees could have to be provided by property management companies acting on behalf of homeowners associations. They could have to be provided for each of their projects. This could equate to 20% of the annual service charge budget for a building. It is envisaged as being similar to the escrow account developers have to maintain on all off plan projects. There has always been a provision for this type of guarantee but it has never been fully implemented before.
Weekly Spotlight: Economic Substance Regulation Notification in the UAE Must be Submitted by 30 June
The UAE’s Finance Ministry has announced all companies in the UAE who engaged in relevant activities up to and including 31 December 2019 must submit a notification of Economic Substance Regulations to its Regulatory Authority by 30 June 2020 to avoid administrative activities. Banking, insurance, investment fund management, financial leasing, headquarters and shipping operations, holding and intellectual property companies, distribution and service centres are all considered relevant activities. The definition of each of these activities can be found in the relevant activities guide on the Ministry’s website. The implications of Coronavirus on Relevant Activities which were directly affected by Government restrictions including travel bans, self-isolation measures, social distancing etc will be taken into account when assessing whether a UAE-licensed company has met the Economic Substance Regulations test for the relevant period.
Abu Dhabi’s Agriculture and Food Safety Authority has issued guidelines on how to deal with food safely during the Coronavirus pandemic. The guidelines target food outlets, food delivery services and consumers and contain various sections including personal health and managing operations in health entities. They also include provisions on managing delivering and receiving food orders, receiving food meals and instructions for consumers. The aim is to clarify the anti-Coronavirus measures to be taken by food outlets as well as boost health practices by consumers to limit the risk of infection and increase health standards throughout society. The guidelines are available in Arabic, English and Urdu.
The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with EC3 Brokers to implement a Group Health Insurance Master Policy. The Group Health scheme will be available to over 2,400 active registered firms in DIFC who provide health insurance for mandatory health cover to their 25,600 staff and their dependents. As part of the agreement, EC3 Brokers will act as an intermediary to facilitate the tendering process to shortlist the insurer and the third party administrator contractual partners in the UAE. Criteria will be agreed by both DIFC and EC3 Brokers. The idea is to reduce costs for firms operating in the DIFC.
The Ruler of Dubai has enacted the new DIFC Data Protection DIFC Law No. 5/ 2020. The new law will come into effect from 1 July 2020 and current DIFC Data Protection Law, DIFC Law No. 1/2007, will remain in effect until this date. New DIFC Data Protection Regulations which set out the procedures for notifications to the Commissioner of Data Protection, accountability, record keeping, fines and adequate jurisdictions for cross-border transfers of personal data have also been issued.
The DIFC’s updated Data Protection Law and Regulations set out expectations for Controllers and Processors in the DIFC on several key privacy and security principles. The Data Protection Law combines the best practices from a variety of current, global data protection laws, including the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the California Consumer Privacy Act and other advance technology agnostic concepts. They will enable DIFC to continue to build upon the Centre’s reputation as a leading global financial centre while also promoting ethical data sharing. The new Data Protection Law and Regulations provide a framework that will support DIFC’s bid for adequacy recognition by the European Commission, the UUK and other jurisdictions, easing data transfer compliance requirements for DIFC businesses.
The changes legislate for accountability of Controllers and Processors through compliance programmes requirements, appointing data protection officers where necessary, conducting data protection impact assessments and imposing contractual obligations that protect individuals and their personal data. Enhanced rights of individuals are clarified in terms of data usage by entities that collect and manage personal data, including contractual clarity on such rights when engaging with vendors of emerging technologies, such as Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Permit options for cross-border data transfers and special category personal data processing have been removed. The new Law and Regulations include appropriate data sharing structures between government authorities, which represent a key step forward in data sharing standards within the UAE and the region.
General fines for serious breaches of the Law, in addition to or instead of administrative fines, and ncreased maximum fine limits, have been introduced. In light of the current global pandemic, while DIFC Law No. 5/ 2020 will be effective from 1 July 2020, businesses to which it applies have a grace period of three months, until 1 October 2020, to prepare to comply with it, after which it becomes enforceable.
The UAE’s Federal National Council has approved a draft movable assets law. If approved further, it will repeal Federal Law No. 20/2016 on the Mortgage of Moveable Property to Secure Debt. It will now apply to tangible and intangible assets as well as existing and future assets. In addition, it will cover rights to claim payments on funds deposited with financial institutions and give a right to enforce obligations of counterparties under a contract. Receivables, credit balances with banks and other financial institution, written instruments transferable by delivery or endorsement, including commercial papers like promissory notes, bank certificates and bills of lading, vehicles and equipment will also be covered. Animals, animal products and agricultural crops will be covered by the law as well. However, movable assets which guarantee wage rights, worker benefits, public funds, endowment funds and funds held by diplomats and consulates and international government organisations are not covered by the draft law. ‘Secured obligations’ will be required, which will include all current and future obligations of the debtor or borrower. An upper limit of the amount secured will have to be provided and this threshold will be laid out in subsequent legislation. Under the law, a ‘security interest’ will be enforceable against third-parties and have priority over other debts. The first security interest registered will have priority over later ones. A new Register for Rights Over Movable Assets will be established and the Finance Minister will recommend the assets which should be added to this Register. Anyone who violates the law will be jailed and/or fined 60,000 AED.
The Dubai International Financial Centre Authority has enacted amendments to the 2018 Real Property Regulations which came into force on 12 November 2018. This was when the Real Property Law, DIFC Law No. 10/2018 was enacted. The amendments come into force today and mean the enforcement and compliance regimes under DIFC Law No. 10/2018 and the Real Property Regulations are brought into line with the DIFC Operating Regulations which came into force on 12 November 2018. This has been done by explicitly categorising all Real Property Law contraventions as offences, providing a mechanism for fines to be enforced and the Decision Making Procedures applied. The Regulations also now identify a separate form of notification for Indirect Interest transfers and provide the Registrar with the power to make default assessments of the Transfer Fee with the onus of evidence reversed.
The UAE Government has announced foreign ownership of maritime businesses in the country are now allowed. It follows the issuing of the positive list which is the official list of the commercial activities in which 100% foreign ownership is allowed. The Maritime Standard Company said all shipping companies and maritime activities operating in the country previously had to have a local partner. However, this requirement is no longer required under the new rules.
The Abu Dhabi Global Market has announced it has amended its commercial legislation. They have issued new Companies Regulations. The 2020 Regulations repeal the Companies Regulations 2015 (as amended). They have also amended the 2017 Foundations Regulations and 2015 Limited Liability Partnership Regulations. In addition, they have issued amendments to the 2018 Beneficial Ownership and Control Regulations and 2015 Real Property Regulations. Finally, they have issued new Limited Liability Partnership Rules. Among other changes, the requirement to issue paper certificates and licenses electronically has been abolished and the definition of ‘members of the same family’ in the Companies Regulations have been amended. The term Annual Returns has also been amended to Confirmation Statements and the current ban on foreigners owning freehold land in Al Maryah Island has been lifted.
The Financial, Economic and Industrial Affairs Committee of the UAE’s Federal National Council has discussed a draft consumer protection law. The aim of the new law is to benefit consumers and protect them from being exploited by suppliers. Consumers will be able to contact the relevant authorities at the Economy Ministry to submit fraud and exploitation complaints. The relevant authorities will obtain the correct information on goods purchased by consumers and raise consumer awareness about their rights and obligations.