On September 4, 2023, the president of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, ratified Decree-Law No. 14 of 2023 on online trade transactions. The new law applies to all online sales and purchases of goods and services. It does not apply, however, to online trade transactions carried out by government bodies. The new law also excludes transactions conducted by digital currencies monitored by the Emirati Central Bank. (Decree Law No. 14 of 2023, art. 2.)
The main objective of the new law is to regulate digital trade transactions of goods and services and increase the number of such transactions. (Art. 3(1) & (3).)
The new law sets forth a number of requirements for the legality of online trade transactions of goods and services, including the following:
- Both the buyer and seller must be adults.
- Sellers must obtain all necessary permits to pursue their commercial activities online.
- Online trade transactions must involve goods or services that are permitted by law. Any online trade transactions involving illicit goods or services are prohibited.
- The prices of goods and services that are traded online must be specified.
- Sellers are prohibited from providing buyers with false information about goods or services advertised online.
- Every online trade transaction must have an electronic receipt. (Art. 5.)
Safeguarding the interests of consumers conducting online trade transactions is a major concern of this law, which provides the following consumer protections:
- Consumers must receive the purchased goods and services as they were advertised online.
- Sellers must provide consumers with a detailed description of the advertised goods and services.
- Consumers must give their feedback after every online transaction about their experience with the seller and the quality of the purchased goods and services.
- Sellers must provide consumers with contact information in case a consumer wishes to return the purchased goods or opt out of the services purchased online.
- Online sellers must post their commercial permit number on their websites. (Art. 6.)
The law grants consumers the right to return goods and opt out of the services that they bought online under the following circumstances:
- The online goods or services violate domestic legislation applicable in the United Arab Emirates.
- Consumers discovered on receipt of the goods or services purchased online that they were defective, incomplete, or lacking the qualities that were advertised.
- The goods and services purchased online were received after the promised delivery date, making it impossible to benefit from the goods or services. (Art. 7(1).)
On the other hand, the law prohibits consumers from returning goods or opting out of services purchased online under the following conditions:
- The purchased goods or services are free of defects and possess the same qualities that were advertised.
- Three weeks have passed since purchased food commodities were received.
- Consumers have already used purchased computer programs that are licensed to be used only once. (Art. 7(2).)
George Sadek, Law Library of Congress
October 19, 2023
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