Law reform can have a positive effect: paper

ABU DHABI, 27th October, 2016 (WAM) — A UAE newspaper has said that over the past two weeks, a number of proposed laws have either been enacted or announced. Taken together, they point to a particular direction for the country. There was the new bankruptcy law, issued by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan last month, the effects of which will be felt by the end of the year, whereby for the first time, the law provides a legal framework to help failing companies avoid collapse.

“There was a new anti-narcotics law announced, although it has not yet come into effect. This law creates new options for first-time offenders, including the ability to stay out of court and be referred directly to a rehabilitation clinic for treatment,” said The National in an editorial on Thursday.

The paper went on to say, “Then this week came a new widespread reform of the penal code, raising the maximum fines on whole classes of crimes, while removing others from the statute books. Taken together, what do these changes mean? “There is a symbiotic relationship between laws and society. Laws necessarily constrain the ability of people in society to act in certain ways, but they also encourage them to act in others, either by providing incentives or disincentives.

“Take two examples from these recent laws: the change in the bankruptcy laws means that citizens and residents will be more encouraged to take risks with entrepreneurship, because the law allows for failures, which are at the very foundation of risk-taking. It will also have a wider effect, because foreigners will look to the UAE as a base for their companies, bringing jobs and investments.

“Or look at the anti-narcotics law. A change that allows a family member to hand a drug user into a rehabilitation facility without fear of the user facing prosecution will encourage more users and their families to seek treatment.

“At the same time, the law also creates disincentives. According to one lawyer quoted in our [The National] story yesterday, by increasing the penalties for some crimes, such as murder, those who believe a so-called honour killing would only mean a few years in jail followed by a pardon will be sorely disappointed, therefore sending a clear message.

“Such changes, then, push society in particular directions. They create a new atmosphere. Significant changes in law can have the effect of changing society for the better,” concluded the daily.