UAE: New E-Commerce Law Overview

UAE: New E-Commerce Law Overview

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has introduced a new law known as the Federal Decree-Law No. 14 of 2023, which focuses on Trading by Modern Technological Means (“E-Commerce Law”). The announcement was made by Abdullah Ahmed Al Saleh, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Economy, and aims to foster innovation and flexibility in the country’s economic landscape.

The law defines “Trading by Modern Technological Means” as encompassing activities on websites, platforms, or smart applications. It introduces the concept of “Modern Technological Means,” including electronic, digital, biometric, artificial intelligence, and blockchain technologies. It outlines the scope of the law, which applies to various activities and entities engaged in commercial transactions through modern technological means, both locally and globally.

The Law outlines multiple objectives, including supporting the UAE’s digital transformation, enhancing legislative and regulatory environments, and protecting consumer interests. The Ministry of Economy has gained significant competencies, such as proposing a general policy, issuing terms for consumer protection, and coordinating with authorities to block non-compliant digital platforms.

To ensure trading integrity through modern technology, the law establishes standards and requirements such as legal capacity, compliance with regulations, technical security measures, and detailed invoices. It sets clear expectations for digital merchants, emphasizing fairness, transparency, and adherence to competition protection terms.

Consumer rights are a central focus, with provisions for secure digital transactions, the right to clear presentation of goods and services, and mechanisms for complaint resolution. The law outlines conditions for the return of goods or services, emphasizing the consumer’s right to expect purchases to meet specified criteria.

The law also establishes dispute resolution mechanisms, including forming a Dispute Resolution Committee and provisions for arbitration. It emphasizes data protection legislation, setting standards for classifying, owning, and protecting consumer information and data.

Digital merchants and entities providing logistics and digital payment services may grant insurance coverage for obligations arising from trading through modern technological means. The law establishes liability for those subject to its provisions and empowers designated officers for judicial control to enforce compliance. Cooperation between digital merchants, consumers, and law enforcement is essential to facilitate the enforcement process.

The Ministry and Competent Authority will supervise and control the law’s implementation, issuing administrative penalties for violations. The law recognizes the need for a collaborative ecosystem for adequate supervision and oversight.

The Cabinet will issue regulatory decisions necessary for implementation, with the Minister responsible for administering specific decisions. The Ministry and the Competent Authority will impose administrative penalties.

How TME Services Can Support

The Decree-Law will be published in the Official Gazette, becoming effective the day after its publication. This legislation positions the UAE as a global leader in adapting to the evolving landscape of e-commerce and modern technological means, supporting economic competitiveness and digital innovation.

TME Services is a team of 45 professionals in legal-, tax-, accounting and compliance with over 18 years of experience. We advised a significant number of SMEs in the context of the implementation of the tax framework in the UAE and KSA over the last decade to make sure that our clients are well-oriented in the new and fast-evolving tax landscape and to reduce the legal liability of managers which may arise in connection with non-compliance.


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