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UAE Bankruptcy Law: Essential Information for Business Owners in Financial Turmoil

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Bankruptcy Law

For businesses facing financial turmoil, understanding bankruptcy law is essential in making well-informed, strategic decisions. In the UAE, the bankruptcy law has been designed to provide struggling businesses with viable options for debt restructuring, ensuring a fair and transparent process that minimizes adverse impacts on the economy. This comprehensive guide will delve into the key aspects of UAE bankruptcy law, equipping business owners with vital information to navigate financial hardships effectively. Supported by Al Kabban & Associates extensive expertise in this domain, this guide offers valuable guidance on managing debt restructuring, liquidation, and bankruptcy proceedings while adhering to the UAE’s legal framework. Let Al Kabban & Associates trusted professionals assist you in these challenging times, providing personalized guidance and tailored solutions to overcome financial obstacles and secure your business’s future.

1. Key Aspects of UAE Bankruptcy Law: Decree No. 9 of 2016

The UAE introduced the Bankruptcy Law (Federal Decree No. 9 of 2016) aimed at encouraging entrepreneurship, supporting businesses in difficult circumstances, and providing clear governance for insolvency processes. The law covers essential aspects of bankruptcy, such as preventative composition, debt restructuring, bankruptcy with asset liquidation, and bankruptcy with reorganization. Focus points include:

– Applicability primarily to businesses, including joint-stock companies, limited liability companies (LLCs) and sole proprietorships.

– Encouraging out-of-court settlement and restructuring to effectively address financial crisis scenarios.

– New provisions for penalties and offences related to bankruptcy, such as fraudulent and negligent bankruptcy.

2. Preventative Composition: A Procedure to Avoid Bankruptcy

Preventative composition is designed to assist businesses experiencing financial difficulty in negotiating and settling debts before bankruptcy becomes imminent, as long as the debtor is not yet insolvent. Key highlights of preventative composition include:

– Applying for a composition request to the Commercial Court, stating reasons for financial difficulty and providing supporting documents.

– Court approval is required for the debtor’s composition request.

– Suspension of legal proceedings and enforcement measures against the debtor for the duration of the composition process.

– Oversight of a court-appointed trustee to manage and administer the debtor’s assets.

3. Debt Restructuring: Addressing Financial Challenges through Negotiation

Debt restructuring is a viable option for businesses experiencing financial difficulty in meeting their obligations but still possess potential assets or revenue streams. Al Kabban & Associates can assist businesses in the negotiation process and provide legal advice tailored to their unique circumstance. Essential features of debt restructuring include:

– Entering into voluntary or consensual agreements with creditors.

– Renegotiating loan terms, interest rates or payment schedules.

– Implementing short-term improvements in cash flow, such as sale of non-essential assets.

– Protection against further enforcement proceedings during the period of restructuring.

4. Bankruptcy with Asset Liquidation: When Debts Outweigh Assets

Bankruptcy with asset liquidation is considered when a business cannot meet its financial obligations, and its assets are insufficient to cover its debts. Key aspects of the liquidation process include:

– Business owners filing a bankruptcy petition with the Commercial Court, detailing the financial state of the company and the inability to pay its debts.

– The appointment of a bankruptcy trustee by the court to oversee the process, manage the debtor’s assets, and determine creditor claims.

– Liquidation of the debtor’s assets and distribution of proceeds to creditors according to priority rankings.

– Discharge of the debtor from bankruptcy, freeing them from any remaining unpaid debts.

5. Bankruptcy with Reorganization: A Path to Financial Recovery

Bankruptcy with reorganization offers an opportunity for financially troubled businesses to restructure their debts and operations while continuing to trade, under the supervision of a court-appointed trustee. Crucial elements of reorganization include:

– Applying for a reorganization request at the Commercial Court, providing a detailed plan including financial projections, measures to improve cash flow and operational changes.

– Court approval of the reorganization plan, which must be supported by a majority of creditors to proceed.

– Implementation of operational and financial restructuring measures to improve business performance.

– Debtor’s adherence to the reorganization plan for a specified period, subject to court and creditor oversight.

6. Penalties and Offences: Legal Implications of Fraudulent or Negligent Bankruptcy

UAE Bankruptcy Law outlines strict penalties and offences in bankruptcy cases, to prevent abuse and protect the interests of all parties involved. Some of the penalties include:

– Imprisonment and fines for fraudulent conduct, such as embezzling company assets or falsifying financial statements.

– Civil penalties for negligent bankruptcy, including disqualification from holding positions in other organizations, removal from the company or personal liability for debts.

7. The Role of Legal Representation: Ensuring Effective Legal Guidance in Bankruptcy Cases

Navigating the complexities of bankruptcy, from preventative composition to asset liquidation, requires expert legal counsel from experienced professionals. Al Kabban & Associates team of specialists offers:

– Legal representation and advice throughout bankruptcy proceedings.

– Assistance with drafting and submission of documents related to preventative composition, debt restructuring and bankruptcy petitions.

– Negotiations with creditors for optimal outcomes in debt settlement or restructuring.

– Guidance through reorganization processes, ensuring compliance with UAE bankruptcy law at every stage.

8. Insolvency in the UAE Free Zones

Free Zones in the UAE possess their bankruptcy regulations. For instance, the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) introduced the Insolvency Law (DIFC Law No. 1 of 2019), which shares similarities with UK insolvency legislation. Businesses operating in Free Zones should seek legal advice specifically aligned with the respective jurisdiction’s regulations.


In times of financial difficulty, understanding the intricacies of the UAE bankruptcy law is essential for business owners and entrepreneurs. These challenges can be adequately navigated with the right legal counsel that provides personalized support and guidance. Al Kabban & Associates team of experts, with their extensive knowledge and resources, ensures that businesses have a comprehensive understanding of their available options and the most viable strategies to emerge from difficult circumstances. Our expertise in preventative composition, debt restructuring, and bankruptcy cases will help protect your business’s long-term interests, preserve its value, and assist you in securing its future.

If your business is facing financial turmoil and you require expert legal guidance on UAE bankruptcy laws, reach out to Al Kabban & Associates, a trusted law firm in the UAE, today for a consultation. Let our experienced lawyers help you navigate these challenging times and find your path to recovery.


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