Moral Damages in UAE Law: A Recent Landmark Case


Moral damages, non-material or non-pecuniary damages, are a significant part of Federal Law No. 5/1985 on the Civil Transactions Law (Civil Code) in the UAE. These damages go beyond physical injuries and financial losses, addressing harm to a person’s dignity, reputation, emotional well-being, or social standing resulting from a wrongful action. These rules are essential to the UAE’s legal system and are guided by Federal Law No. 5/1985 on the Civil Transactions Law.

 Defining Moral Damages:

Article 293 of Federal Law No. 5/1985 on the Civil Transactions Law defines moral damages as those that include “trespassing against others in their freedom, honour, dignity, reputation, social standing, or financial position.” In essence, moral damages aim to compensate individuals for the harm suffered due to another person’s wrongful act.

 Under the UAE Civil Code, moral damages include five main categories:

    1. Harm to Freedom: This includes where an individual’s freedom has been violated or restricted, often associated with cases of false imprisonment or unlawful detention.
    2. Harm to Honour and Dignity: These damages address situations where a person’s honour or dignity is damaged, typically related to defamation, slander, or invasion of privacy.
    3. Damage to Reputation: Moral damages may be awarded when a person’s reputation, whether personal or professional, is damaged, affecting their standing in society or their ability to conduct business.
    4. Harm to Social Standing: Actions that lead to a decline in a person’s social standing, often resulting from public humiliation or degradation, may be subject to moral damages.
    5. Financial Damage: Even though not exclusively financial, this category may include non-material financial harm, such as loss of wealth or damage to one’s financial well-being.

How Moral Damages Are Calculated:

According to Article 293 of the UAE civil code, moral damages may be awarded in cases involving various forms of harm, including trespass against freedom, honour, dignity, reputation, social standing, or financial position. Spouses and close relatives of the family are eligible to receive moral damages in the event of the injured party’s death.

Notably, as per Article 293(3) of the law, the recovery of moral damages cannot be transferred to other individuals unless there is a prior agreement or a final court judgment stipulating the awarded amount. The court has the discretion to determine the amount, considering factors such as the severity of the harm, the impact on the victim’s life, the nature of the wrongdoing, and the defendant’s intent.

Limitations and Restrictions:

Moral damages, like all legal provisions, have their limitations. Article 296 of Federal Law No. 5/1985 states that agreements or contracts containing conditions to avoid responsibility for moral damages are null and void. This means that individuals cannot waive their responsibility for moral damages through agreements or contracts.

Recent Judgement on Moral Damages:

Recently, a judgment was issued in a case involving a commercial dispute arising from a breach of contractual obligations. In this case, “moral damages” were awarded. This judgment is significant as it extends the application of moral damages to commercial disputes. Previously, these damages were primarily awarded to individuals. This ruling establishes an example for compensating businesses in cases of contractual breaches. The court considered factors such as brand value and reputation when awarding moral damages.


Moral damages are about rectifying situations when someone hurts your feelings or damages your reputation. The rules in Federal Law No. 5/1985 on the Civil Transactions Law of the UAE ensure that people are treated impartially and that the law discourages wrongful actions. The recent judgement underlines the growing importance of moral damages in the UAE’s legal landscape.


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