Can I sue a friend who refuses to pay his debt?


Question: I lent a large sum to my friend a year ago. I’ve been trying to get it back for months now. He refuses to pay her back, even though he has the financial means to do so. How can I get the money back? All I have as proof that I lent the money is a WhatsApp conversation between us. The conversation contains details of him asking for money, I agree, a screenshot of the transferred money, and his acknowledgment. He says in the message that he will return the money in “two-three months”.

Answer: As per your questions, it is assumed that you reside in Dubai. The provisions of Federal Decree-Law No. 46 of 2021 relating to electronic transactions and trust services (the “Electronic Transactions Law”) and those of Cabinet Resolution No. 57 of 2018 concerning the regulations implementing Federal Law No. 11 of 1992 (the “Electronic Transactions Law”) Cabinet Resolution No. 57 of 2018 on the Law of Civil Procedure of the United Arab Emirates’) are applicable.

In the United Arab Emirates, it is pertinent to note that WhatsApp messages can be considered an electronic form of messages that can be used as documentary evidence. This is in accordance with Section 5 of the Electronic Transactions Act, which states: “(1) No electronic document shall be denied legal effect or probative value solely on the ground that it is in electronic form .

(2) No information recorded in an electronic document shall be denied legal probative value – if details of such information are available for review in the author’s electronic system, and reference in the electronic documents is made to the how it can be examined.”

Based on the above provision of the law and the exchange of WhatsApp messages between you and your friend will be considered as documentary evidence. Therefore, you may consider filing a civil suit in Dubai Courts against your friend to recover the money you lent him under Section 16(1) of Cabinet Resolution No. 57 of 2018 on the Civil Procedure Law of the UAE, which states: “1- The legal action shall be brought before the Court, at the request of the plaintiff, by filing his brief at the case management office electronically or in writing according to the case in court.

Along with your claim, you (as the claimant) must submit copies of proof of identity, address, email address, mobile and telephone number for you and your friend.

However, if the amount of your claim is less than Dh500,000, you should first file a complaint against your friend with the Dubai Courts Center for Amicable Dispute Resolution (the “Amicable Resolution Centre”).

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