New law to regulate unfinished, cancelled projects in Dubai issued

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, the ruler of Dubai and Vice President of the UAE, announced a new law regulating unfinished and cancelled property projects in the Emirate.

According to a statement from the Dubai Media Office, a separate tribunal will be set up to supervise the liquidation of unfinished and cancelled projects as well as the settlement of relevant claims. It will replace an existing committee formed in 2013 to oversee claims related to projects that have been cancelled.

Members of the new special tribunal will be appointed by the chairman of Dubai’s Judicial Council. “The tribunal will review and settle disputes and complaints arising from unfinished, cancelled or liquidated real estate projects,” the statement said. It will also take up existing cases that the previous committee has not settled.

The new entity will have authority over all land disputes relating to unfinished or cancelled projects in the Emirate, implying that lawsuits regarding pending projects cannot be lodged with the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Courts. The tribunal’s rulings are final and uncontestable,’ the statement said.

If the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (Rera) of the Dubai Land Department considers a project to be cancelled, the tribunal will be responsible for liquidating the assets and will “define the rights of investors and purchasers.” It also has the power to set up subcommittees in transaction accounts to make transfers, inspect money trails and issue orders to project fund holders.

A second decree relating to the Interim Real Estate Register of the Emirate was also issued, specifying that if a developer failed to start a property project for reasons beyond his control, or if it was cancelled by Rera, the developer in question “must refund the whole amount paid by the buyers.”

Both laws will become effective once published in the emirate’s Official Gazette.

The introduction of the new laws is “very positive news”, Elaine Jones, executive chairman of property consultancy Asteco, said. They provide “a clear route for resolution of pending cases and assures new investors that their interests will be protected and resolved in an efficient manner,” she added.