Many people often feel offended when they are charged with a Criminal case, such as for financial crimes, physical violence, cyber crimes and so on. Some individuals think that they will receive compensation if they file a criminal case against the accused. However, that is not the case. In criminal cases the accused, if the guilt is proven, receives punishment accordingly. Even if the criminal court decides to fine the accused, the fine is payable to the court, not the victim. The victim will still have to file a separate case for claiming compensation from the accused. As people often get confused at this stage, I decided to write this article to shed some light on the matter.
Nevertheless, it is regrettable that people face criminal offenses and trials, which might affect their financial and personal prospects. That is why, the UAE Criminal Procedure Law gives the right to all victims in any crimes without any exceptions, to claim compensation. Although we understand that in many cases regardless of whether the matter is financial or non-financial, sometimes money does not change things but it helps people ease their catastrophes.
The right of claiming money is given to the victim in the criminal procedure stage and before the judgment of the First Instance Criminal Court and the law did not put any general limit, maximum or minimum, for such amounts as its left to the discretionary power of the courts.
If there was insurance and there was damage done by the crime, the law even gives the insurer or the insurance company the right to claim the money before the criminal courts at any stage of the proceedings.
The criminal courts have the right decide on the civil claim, which was raised within the Criminal Proceeding in more than one expected situations: Firstly, if the accused has been found guilty, the courts will have the discretionary power to award the full compensation or part of it.
Secondly, if the person has been found guilty, and the court considers it to be difficult or time-consuming to evaluate the compensation amount as it would require further investigation, they would have the right to declare the accused as ‘Guilty’ and decide on his sentence. Then they would refer the civil claim to the Civil Courts in accordance with Article 26 of UAE Criminal Procedures Law Federal Law No. 35 of 1992.
Thirdly, if the person is found 'Not-Guilty', because the matter is solely related civil disputes, the Criminal Courts in most cases would dismiss the criminal charges but would refer the civil cases to the civil courts. Finally, if the accused has not been found guilty, it is more likely that the courts would not favor the compensation.
One of the most common questions which we get from our clients is ‘shall we file a civil case before the Civil Courts now or the Criminal Courts?’ Although the answer to this question varies from crime to crime, depending on the nature of the accusation but if the client wishes to file for civil claim, it would be more prudent to advise to file it first in the Criminal Courts. This is because that mainly offers the victim and his lawyer, two important rights. First, to participate and attend the hearings in the First Instance Courts. Second, to raise grievance for appeal in case the criminal charges are dismissed.
Another important question raised by many clients is 'what will happen if the accused has been given a 'Not-Guilty' judgment, does that mean that the civil case will automatically be dismissed?'
The answer to that is, no not necessarily. As in some cases, the courts might dismiss the charges because there has not been any breach of the criminal law but still there is a valid claim in the civil courts whether on the basis of tortious liability or contractual liability.
The victim has the right to drop the civil claim at any time throughout the whole proceedings.