What is the statement of jurisdiction for a civil suit for defamation?

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The jurisdiction in a case is primarily determined in reference to the place wherein the wrong happened. In the instance of defamation, the jurisdiction would be determined based on the place where the defamation was caused or where the defendant resides or carries on his business or the place where any part of the cause of action arises. 

Pursuant to Article 16 of the Federal Law No. 3 of 1987 Promulgating the Penal Code and its amendments (‘UAE penal Code’).

Article (16)

Provisions of this law shall apply to anyone who commits a crime within the territory of the State. The territory of the State shall include its lands and any place under its sovereignty, including territorial waters and air space above them. A crime shall be considered to be committed in the territory of the State if any of its constituent acts occurs therein or if its result has been realized or is intended to be realized therein.

In addition, the following article also apply

Article (19)

This law shall apply to anyone who commits an act outside the State, and thereby becomes a principal or an accomplice to a crime committed wholly or partially inside the State.

Even though defamation constitutes a criminal act in the UAE, a civil case may also be instituted against the defendant claiming compensation for the damages caused. Thus, inviting the provisions of the UAE Civil Procedure Code for determination of the jurisdiction for a civil suit for defamation.

Pursuant to Article 31 of the Federal Law No. 11 of 1992 concerning the issuance of civil procedure code and its amendments (‘UAE Civil Procedure Code’),

Article (31)
  1. The court, in which area the defendant’s residence exists, should have the jurisdiction unless the law stipulates otherwise, in case he had not a residence in the State, the jurisdiction should be given to the court in which area his residence or his workplace exists.
  2. It is possible to prosecute the action to the court in which area the prejudice has taken place, and that is to be in case of the actions of indemnity for the occurrence of damage on a person or a property.
  3. The jurisdiction should be in the commercial matters of the court in which circuit the prosecuted residence exists or be given to the court in which circuit the agreement has been concluded, totally or partially executed or to the court in which circuit the agreement should be executed.
  4. If there are more than one prosecuted, the jurisdiction should be at the court in which circuit the residence of one of them exists.
  5. In other than the cases stipulated in the Article (32) and the Articles from (34) to (39), it is possible to agree on the jurisdiction of a certain court to examine the litigation, and in such case the jurisdiction will be given to such court or the court in which circuit the prosecuted residence, domicile or workplace exists.

Thus, pursuant to the fundamental territorial jurisdiction principles of UAE, the civil suit for defamation should be instituted where the defendant residents or is domiciled, and the exception to this principle states that the court where the damage has occurred will also possess territorial jurisdiction.

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