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UAE Enacts Comprehensive Digital Law to Govern Online Transactions

UAE Enacts Comprehensive Digital Law to Govern Online Transactions

In a significant move aimed at regulating the burgeoning digital economy, the UAE has introduced a comprehensive digital law covering all forms of online payments and transactions. The law, Federal Decree No. 14 of 2023, marks a substantial expansion of regulations beyond traditional e-commerce, offering enhanced protections for consumers and businesses alike.

The scope of the new law, according to David Yates, partner and head of digital and data at Al Tamimi & Company, extends to all digital means of trade within and outside the UAE. This includes transactions conducted through websites, mobile apps, blockchain, and other emerging technologies. Unlike its predecessor, which primarily focused on e-commerce, the new law encompasses a broader range of digital trade practices, reflecting the evolving landscape of digital commerce.

Yates emphasizes that the law applies to both buyers and sellers involved in digital transactions, providing additional safeguards for consumers. Notably, exceptions are made for government procurement, digital currency transactions, and financial services, which fall outside the law’s purview. However, the law’s comprehensive nature ensures that it encompasses existing technologies while also anticipating future developments in digital trade.

Key provisions of the law prioritize consumer protection and transparency in digital transactions. Consumers are empowered to provide feedback and report fraudulent activities through dedicated digital platforms. Moreover, the law mandates timely delivery of goods and services, with provisions for refunds and returns in cases of non-compliance or dissatisfaction. Digital contracts are recognized as legally binding, provided there are mechanisms in place to verify identities and formalize agreements.

Abdulla bin Touq Al Marri, Minister of Economy, underscores the law’s focus on enhancing consumer rights and confidence in the digital marketplace. The legislation grants consumers autonomy over advertising and marketing campaigns, allowing them to opt in or out based on their preferences. Additionally, consumers enjoy expanded return and exchange rights, bolstering trust and accountability in digital transactions. Importantly, the law prohibits additional fees for digital payment methods and restricts mandatory arbitration for disputes below a certain threshold.

Essam Al Tamimi, chairman of Al Tamimi & Company, emphasizes the importance of businesses understanding the implications of the new law. With its broad applicability to various digital avenues, the law aims to foster business growth and investment in the UAE. Al Tamimi’s firm aims to provide clarity on the law’s provisions, ensuring that businesses can navigate the regulatory landscape effectively and capitalize on the opportunities presented by the digital economy.

The enactment of the UAE’s comprehensive digital law signals a proactive approach to regulating digital trade and safeguarding consumer interests. As the digital economy continues to evolve, the law’s provisions are poised to promote transparency, accountability, and trust in online transactions. With robust legal frameworks in place, the UAE aims to position itself as a leading hub for digital commerce and innovation, driving economic growth and prosperity in the digital age.

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