• Economy

    Major JV between China and Iran

    china-iran-JV

    Davidson & Co’s Corporate and Commercial team has been providing local and international clients with legal services for over ten years. Our Corporate and Commercial division has a growing clientele base that includes local, regional and international companies, banks and financial institutions, international and regional law firms and high-net-worth individuals.

    Recently, we acted in a corporate restructuring involving the establishment of a joint venture company and multiple share transfers to facilitate the investment by a major state-owned petroleum energy and chemicals company in China of over USD 500,000,000 in a long-established methanol plant based in Iran.

    This joint venture marks the Chinese entry into the Iranian methanol market. The above corporate restructuring is expected to significantly boost annual revenue generated in Iran and China.

    Our team on this transaction comprised of Partner, Andrew Lyons and Associate, Rhea Bindra. Managing Partner, Jonathon Davidson commented: “We are delighted to have continued our long-standing relationship with our clients based in Iran, by acting on yet another successful corporate restructuring, which is expected to prove a very progressive move for them in the Iranian and Chinese markets.”

    This transaction is another indication of continued M&A activity, which we are seeing within the oil and gas sector. The matter allowed us yet again to demonstrate our deep understanding of the realm of corporate and commercial law in the region and abroad.

    We aim to simplify the issues involved with transactions and make it our focus to help our clients understand their investment risks, at every stage.

    Reach out to us for a confidential discussion on any Corporate or Commercial matters and to find out how we can help.

    Our team would be delighted to hear from you.

    Rhea Bindra
    rbindra@davidsoncolaw.com

    Yousif Ahmed
    yahmed@davidsoncolaw.com

  • Crypto

    The emerging use of cryptocurrencies in the Middle East

    emerging use of cryptocurrencies in the Middle East

    Cryptocurrencies are digital assets represented in the form of tokens which are designed to work as a medium of exchange and which employ sophisticated cryptography to secure and validate the transfer of value.

    The ‘crypto’ in ‘cryptocurrency’ refers to cryptography – the practice and study of techniques for secure communication in the presence of third party ‘adversaries’.  Accordingly, cryptocurrencies are cryptographically secure in that, while they are theoretically able to be broken, it is infeasible to do so by any known practical means.

    There are approximately 2.5 billion individuals with access to the internet around the world and, as cryptocurrencies know no borders, they can be used internationally without incurring expensive transfer and currency exchange fees.

    This year, Davidson & Co represented and acted for the Seller in transferring ownership of a portfolio of transferable cryptographic blockchain-based digital information units with an approximate valuation of GBP 50,000,000. The transaction took place over a period of 2 months coupled with a corporate restructuring which resulted in an offshore corporate vehicle owning these crypto assets.

    Whilst the UAE is still in the process of establishing formal regulations to govern the operation and trade of crypto assets, jurisdictions such as Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are testing the usage of certain blockchain technology and are exploring the concept of trading in crypto currencies.

    Reach out to us for a confidential discussion on any cryptocurrency matters and to find out how we can help.

    Our team would be delighted to hear from you.

    Rhea Bindra
    rbindra@davidsoncolaw.com

    Yousif Ahmed
    yahmed@davidsoncolaw.com

  • Employment

    FAQ’s – Terminating an Employment Contract in the UAE

    Terminating an Employment Contract in the UAE

    The decision to end an employment relationship for both an employee and employer is often one that is difficult to make, and stressful for all those involved. This is heightened by the requirement to ensure that the termination of the employment contract is handled correctly and in line with the applicable law. To assist, we address the key provisions of Federal Law No.8 of 1980 otherwise known as the UAE Labour Law, on the termination of both limited and unlimited term contracts.

    Limited vs Unlimited Term Contract

    1. Limited – Generally a start and end date are provided for in the body of the contract up to a maximum of 2 years.
    2. Unlimited term contract – An open-ended contract with no specified end date.

    How is a Limited Term Contract Terminated?

    Unless both parties agree by mutual consent prior to the end date to either; i) renew the contract or ii) convert the contract in to an unlimited term contract, the contract is cancelled automatically. It is therefore unusual for a limited term contract to include notice provisions.

    i) Termination by Employer

    An employer may terminate a limited term contract before the end date if it can be proved the employee breached one of the grounds provided for in Articles 120 and 88  (as detailed below).

    ii) Termination by Employee

     Under Article 121, where an employer fails to honour his obligations to an employee under the terms of the employment contract or, if an employee is assaulted by the employer or the employer’s legal representative, an employee may lawfully resign without notice.

    Early Termination of a Limited Term Contract by Employer

    Where an employer seeks to terminate a limited term contract prior to the end date, for reasons other than those specified in Articles 120 or 88, they will become liable to pay the employee compensation of a maximum of 3 months’ full salary or the remainder of the term of the contract, whichever is shorter.

     Early Termination of a Limited Term Contract by Employee

     Where an employee seeks to terminate a limited term contract prior to the end date, for reasons other than those specified in Article 121, they will become liable to pay the employer compensation of a maximum of 3 months’ half salary or the remainder of the term of the contract, whichever is shorter.

    How is an Unlimited Term Contract Terminated?

    i) Termination by Employee

    An employee may terminate their employment contract by providing the employer with notice as per their contract (minimum of 30 days’ and maximum 3 months’).

    In addition, an employee may lawfully terminate their contract of employment, without notice, for either of the reasons stipulated under Article 121 as aforesaid.

    ii) Termination by Employer

    The UAE Labour Law provides for two ways in which an employer can lawfully terminate an employee.

    1 – “Valid Reason”

    Under Article 117, an employer may terminate an employee with notice as per their contract (minimum of 30 days’ and maximum 3 months’) for a “valid reason”. While the term “valid reason” is not defined under the law, any reason must be work related for example, poor performance or misconduct.

    2 – Gross misconduct as defined in Articles 88 and 120 of the UAE Labour Law

    The UAE Labour Law provides that an employer may terminate an employee without notice for specific acts that amount to gross misconduct as provided for under Articles 88 and 120:

    • Assumes a false identity or nationality or submits forged certificates or documents;
    • Engaged on probation and is dismissed during or at the end of probationary period;
    • Commits a fault resulting in substantial material loss to the employer, provided that the latter notifies the labour department of the incident within 48 hours of him becoming award of its occurrence;
    • Disobeys instructions on the safety of work or workplace, provided that such instructions are in writing and posted as a conspicuous place and are communicated verbally to the worker, in case he is illiterate;
    • Defaults on his basic duties under the employment contract and fails to redress such default despite a written interrogation and a warning that he will be dismissed if such default is repeated;
    • Reveals any confidential information of the firm for which he works;
    • Is convicted by a competent court of a crime against honour, honestly or public morals;
    • Is found in a state of drunkenness or under the influence of a narcotic drug during working hours;
    • Assaults the employer, the manager in charge or any of his workmates during working hours;
    • He is absent from work without a valid reason for more than 20 non-successive days in one single year, or for more than 7 successive days.
    • If found to be working for another employer while on annual or sick leave [Article 88].

    Where an employee is validly found to be terminated under any of the aforementioned grounds, they will forfeit their entitlement to end of service gratuity.

    What will happen if the notice period is not complied with?

    In the event that either party fails to serve notice in accordance with the law and/or employment contract provisions, or has waived/reduced the period of notice, the other party is entitled to payment in lieu of notice equivalent to the entire or reduced notice period. Compensation is calculated based on an employee’s last salary.

    End of Service Gratuity Provisions when Employer Terminates Contract (Limited and Unlimited Term Contracts)

    If an employee has completed at least twelve months in continuous employment with an employer, then they are entitled to payment of end of service gratuity upon the termination of their employment. The end of service gratuity is calculated as follows:

    • 21 days wages for every year of employment completed, and for each year of the first five years of employment (calculated pro rata for any additional days served).
    • 30 days wages for each additional year of employment after five years, (calculated pro rata for any additional days served).

    End of Service Gratuity Provisions when Employee Terminates Contract

    i) Limited Term Contract

    An employee is not entitled to end of service gratuity unless they have been in continuous employment for over 5 years. In these circumstances, end of service is calculated as if the employee terminated the employment relationship under an unlimited term contract.

    ii) Unlimited Term Contract

    Provided an employee has completed at least twelve months in continuous employment with an employer, then they are entitled to payment of end of service gratuity upon the termination of their employment on a reduced rate as follows:

    • 1 – 3 years’ employment, one third of 21 days’ basic wage for each year of service.
    • 3 – 5 years’ employment, two-thirds of 21 days’ basic wage for each year of service.
    • 5 years’ employment, full 21 days’ basic wage for each year of service.
    • 5+ years employment, 30 days’ basic wage for each additional year.

    In all circumstances, the amount of gratuity shall not exceed 2 years wage.

    For further information on how we can assist you in your enquiries regarding Labour Laws, or to discuss in more detail any of the general principles raised above, please contact us on 04 343 8897 where one of our team will be delighted to assist you.

     Please note that the DIFC has a separate legal framework for Employment matters.

    Victoria Smylie
  • Corporate Law

    Use of Restrictive Covenants in Commercial Contracts in the UAE

    Use of Restrictive Covenants in Commercial Contracts

    Restrictive covenants can be a useful tool for employers to protect themselves from current and/or former employees who may seek to gain an unfair competitive advantage by, for example, immediately joining a competitor business and/ or misusing confidential information to their own ends.

    It is crucial to be aware that restrictive covenants are, to the extent that they restrict an employee’s activities following termination, a restraint of trade and therefore unenforceable unless they go no further than is reasonably necessary to protect the employer’s legitimate business interests. Accordingly, it is very important that consideration is given to the scope and duration of post-termination restrictive covenants.

    Generally, taking an overly aggressive approach when imposing restrictive covenants may cause difficulties with enforceability. For example, a restrictive covenant imposed on a junior employee which prevents him or her from working with a competitor for twenty-four months may be seen by the courts as going further than is necessary to protect a legitimate business interest and therefore be deemed unenforceable.

    Restrictive covenants must be carefully and well drafted – if they exceed what is considered necessary then they risk being unenforceable. This is something we can assist clients with. Other key tips to take note of are: (a) ensure employment contracts are properly signed to evidence the employee’s agreement to the restrictive covenants; and (b) consider updating such restrictions when employees are promoted to a more senior level. Finally, given the importance of social media, non-solicitation clauses should be drafted to work in this context and alongside a robust social media policy.

    Bespoke drafting of restrictive covenants is vital. Template contracts are unlikely to provide you with sufficient protection as covenants need to be limited to the elements of the business the employee was involved with and to the relationships they shared. The duration of covenants should be no longer than what is necessary (usually up to a maximum of twenty-four months) and what is reasonable will vary depending on the sector and the employee’s role within your company. Consider the shelf life of confidential information and the time it would take to consolidate relationships with customers/the workforce following an employee’s departure.

    Reach out to us for a confidential discussion on Restrictive Covenants or general Employment and/or Corporate matters and to find out how we can help.

    Our team would be delighted to hear from you.

    Rhea Bindra
    rbindra@davidsoncolaw.com

    Yousif Ahmed
    yahmed@davidsoncolaw.com

  • Taxation/ Visa

    UAE to introduce VAT Tax Refund Scheme for Tourists

    UAE to introduce VAT Tax Refund Scheme for Tourists

    The UAE Federal Tax Authority (FTA) has announced a tax refund scheme for tourists to claim refunds of Value Added Tax (VAT). Tax invoices issued as of 18 November 2018 and forward will be eligible for the refund.

    VAT refunds will be valid on purchases over AED 250 at more than 4,000 participating retail stores. Requirements for retailers to register for the scheme include the production of a Tax Registration Number (TRN), submitting a request to the FTA to participate in the scheme and meeting the financial credit requirements specified by the system. Eligible outlets will be identifiable via visible posters displayed on their storefronts.

    Tourists will receive refunds through a special refund kiosk at their point of departure upon production of the valid tax invoices, copies of their passport and a credit card. The VAT will then be refunded either in cash or by credit card.

    The scheme will be introduced in two phases; from the 18 November 2018, Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah international airports will implement the digital refund systems and as of mid-December 2018, the system will be fully operational and include all airports and land and sea ports in the UAE.

    For any of your legal requirements please get in touch with Davidson & Co today.

  • Economy/ Private Client

    Davidson & Co – start planning for the future with us

    start planning for the future with us

    At Davidson & Co, we pride ourselves on being one of a limited number of firms within the region offering a full range of private client services including succession planning and asset protection for individuals and High Net Worths; family governance and advice to family offices. Essentially, we help clients plan for the future. At the helm of our team and cementing our position as market leaders, is Andrew Young, who features amongst the top 50 private client advisors globally in the prestigious Citywealth Leaders List as listed in Chambers HNW 2018 “Leaders in their Field” for the UAE.

    The value of making arrangements for families and the next generations to come is often overlooked, and there is a common misconception that succession planning and asset protection is only relevant for the rich and famous, or the elderly.

    When it comes to succession planning and asset protection, there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach. Davidson & Co we are able to tailor our services depending on a client’s personal circumstances and wishes. This may range anywhere from the preparation of a Will through the DIFC Wills and Probate Registry Service Centre, to the implementation of an offshore Private Trust Company (PTC) trust structure, foundation or single family office for high net worth individuals who own assets located all around the world.

    Over the past number of years there has been a significant drive to enhance and mature the succession planning vehicles available in the region and there is, therefore, no better time to start planning for the future with us.

    Our team would be delighted to hear from you.

    Victoria Smylie
    vsmylie@davidsoncolaw.com

  • Property

    Davidson & Co’s Real Estate team continue to feature heavily in high-end Dubai property transactions

    davidson- realestate

    Recently the press has reported on several high-value residential property transactions which have taken place across Dubai, including the sale of properties on the Palm and in the exclusive Emirates Hills community. One of the biggest residential property deals this year was featured in Gulf News involving the sale of an AED 90m villa in Emirates Hills, taking top spot as the highest value deal in Q3 2018.

    The firm’s Real Estate team continues to act in respect of many of these high-end residential property transactions for which Dubai has become famous. Founder and Managing Partner, Jonathon Davidson comments: “Our team has done many of these deals in which the property transaction is only part of it. Often accompanying the transaction is negotiating and dealing with the sale of high-end fixtures and fittings, fine art and decorative pieces which require specialist experience and expertise to navigate.

    Our specialist property lawyers act for a number of high net worth and ultra-high net worth individuals buying and selling property in Dubai. Our team has specialist expertise in this area and in-depth knowledge of the local laws and regulations around all types of real estate transactions in the region. We can advise and guide you through the entire process of buying and selling property in Dubai and help with protecting your interests.

    Davidson & Co is one of the region’s foremost boutique commercial and private client law firms. Contact us today for a confidential discussion on any real estate matter and to find out how we can help.

    Our team would be delighted to hear from you.

    Yousif Ahmed

    yahmed@davidsoncolaw.com

  • Visa

    UAE visa program further expanded

    UAE visa program further expanded

    Divorcees, widows, tourists, and children without a sponsor are amongst those who will benefit from the new visa reforms.

    What is changing?

    • Widows and divorcees will now be granted an automatic one-year residency visa valid from the date of death or divorce. This visa will also cover any children living in the UAE below the age of 18. The charge for cancelling a previous visa stands at AED 100 and the new visa will cost AED 100.
    • Tourists who wish to extend their stay in the UAE will no longer be required to leave the country once their 30-day visit visa expires, and instead will now be able to apply for up to two further visa extensions of 30 days each, allowing visitors to extend their holidays by up to 60 days at a time. The cost of each extension application will be AED 600.
    • Recent high school graduates will have the chance to apply for a one-year residency visa costing AED 100. This visa is renewable for an additional year upon expiry at a further cost of AED 100.

    When can I apply?

    The new visa changes take effect from 21 October 2018.

  • Employment/ Legal Update

    New labour insurance initiative to enhance rights of employees and free up cash liquidity for UAE companies

    New labour insurance initiative

    From 15 October 2018, the UAE Cabinet has announced a new labour deposit scheme initiative which will enhance the rights of employees and free up cash liquidity for UAE companies.

    Currently, for each new employee hired, a company is obliged to pay an AED 3,000 deposit to the Ministry of Labour as a way of securing that employees receive all or part of their entitlements due and payable at the end of their termination of employment, such as end of service gratuity, holiday pay and payment in lieu of notice, if a company is unable to pay,

    Typically however, the structure of the current deposit scheme is limited to the value of the deposit and as a result, those employees who are owed significantly more than AED 3000 on the termination of their employment, are left with a substantial shortfall in the event that their employer is unable to meet the applicable payments.

    From 15 October 2018, the proposed new deposit scheme will drastically reduce the deposit payable by employers to just AED 60 for each new employee, thereby significantly reducing the upfront costs of recruiting staff, together with releasing liquidity which is currently tied up in the Ministry of Labour.

    Furthermore, the new system entitles employees to payouts of up to AED 20,000 by raising the insurance coverage, a marked increase on the current deposit amount, and fantastic news for all workers in the region, particularly vulnerable blue-collar workers.

    As with any insurance policy, successful claims may lead to increased premiums however for now, both businesses and employees alike will benefit from the new deposit scheme.

    For more information on company set up in the UAE or any other legal requirements please contact:

    Finlay Donaldson on +971 4 343 8897

  • Corporate Law/ Employment/ Property

    Retirement Visas to be made available in the UAE

    PM-UAE

    The UAE will offer 5-year visas to expats aged over 55 who meet certain criteria in yet another relaxation of the region’s visa regulations.

    Who can apply?

    This Retirement Visa will be available for expats who are over the age of 55 and have retired from working.

    What are the criteria?

    Applicants must be over the age of 55 and retired. They must also meet one of the following criteria:

    1. Have investments in real estate worth over AED 2 million (~£415,000.00);
    2. Have financial savings of not less than AED 1 million (~£208,000.00); or
    3. Provide proof of a monthly income of over AED 20,000.00 (~£4,150.00).

    How long is the visa valid?

    The visa will be valid for 5 years, providing that one or more of the above criteria is continually met. Initial indications are that the visa will possibly be renewable.

    When can I apply?

    The UAE cabinet recently announced that the application process will open sometime in 2019.

    Who will benefit?

    Given the age requirement, the new retirement visa will benefit those who wish to continue to reside in the UAE full time without the more stringent criteria imposed by work visas.

    For further information on Retirement Visas or for any other legal queries, please contact Victoria Smylie on +971 4 343 8897