Is an Appointed Defense Lawyer Allowed to Refuse a Case in the UAE?

Posted by Dr. Hassan Elhais on June 15th, 2022

Under the laws of United Arab Emirates, a lawyer is required to show integrity, honor and complete professional commitment while performing legal services for the clients. The lawyer should preserve the interests of his clients, whether financially or morally, by any means available and provide services with due diligence. A lawyer is required to be professional in all his actions.

Laws Governing the Professional Conduct of Lawyers

The laws regulating the legal profession and the conduct of lawyers in the UAE is the Federal Law No. 23 of 1991 (Federal Law) read with the Ministerial Decision No. 666 of 2015 on the Rules of Professional Conduct and Ethics of the Legal Profession in UAE (Ministerial Decision).

The Emirates of Dubai also has a law called the Dubai Executive Council Decision No 22 of 2011 which regulates the provision of legal services in the Emirates of Dubai.

Defending an Accused

Under Article 24 of the Federal Law, if a court delegates a lawyer to defend a person who is accused of an offence punishable by either a death sentence or imprisonment of at least 10 years, the lawyer will have to appear and defend the person for whose defense he was delegated by the court, in all court sessions.

Having said that, Article 4 of Federal Law No. 35 of 1992 (Criminal Procedure Code) states that if there are valid reasons or impediments that the appointed lawyer is facing due to which he is not in a position to defend the accused, he has to promptly inform the criminal assize court who will assess the reasons provided by the lawyer. If the reasons are considered valid, the president of the court will remove him from the case and assign a new lawyer to defend the accused.

A lawyer may also not withdraw from representation of his client in case such withdrawal results in a direct and imminent damage to the interests of the client.

Where the lawyer has been delegated by the court, the fees will be estimated by the courts and paid to the lawyer from the Ministry of Justice upon settlement of the case under Article 24 of the Federal Law. A lawyer is required to be paid his fees/honoraria in accordance with the fees agreed with the client. The courts may, on request of the client, reduce the fees payable to the lawyers if the courts feel that the fee is overstated given the efforts made by the lawyers and for benefit of the clients under Article 29 of the Federal Law.

Other Issues of Note

Conflict of Interest:

In the event a lawyer is representing clients among whom a conflict of interest has arisen, the lawyer is required to withdraw from representing such clients promptly, and notify the concerned parties. In fact, lawyers should not accept any mandate of representation if such representation is likely to lead to a conflict of interest between such party and a former client.

In case the conflict of interest did not exist at the time of commencement of lawyer’s representation of the client, but arose or became known later, the lawyer must notify the client, and either terminate the relationship or obtain a waiver of conflict from the conflicted parties under Article 4(b) of the Ministerial Decision.

Work contrary to honor or ethics:

There are many facts or circumstances which may arise during the course of a lawyer’s representation of the client. Under Article 35 of the Federal Law, if any of the facts or circumstances contradict with the honor or traditions of the legal professional, the lawyer is entitled to withdraw its representation. The lawyer has to perform his work with honor, trust and in line with the ethics of the profession.


A lawyer regulated under the UAE laws is required to be professional, maintain the highest standards of ethics, honor and integrity. Any refusal by a lawyer to represent his clients should be on valid and reasonable grounds.


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Dr. Hassan Elhais

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Dr. Hassan Elhais
Joined: December 20th, 2020
Articles Posted: 430

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