Understanding the UAE’s New E-Commerce Law

Understanding the UAE’s New E-Commerce Law 

By Dr Mohammed Haitham Salman, Managing Partner at Middle East Alliance Legal Consultancy LLC

Last September, the Federal Decree-Law No. (14) of 2023 Concerning the Modern Technology-Based Trade – in other words, e-commerce – came into effect, further aligning the country’s legal framework with its digital transformation strategy.

The unveiling of this new legislation marked a pivotal moment for the UAE’s e-commerce industry. It sets clear guidelines and enhances trust by prioritising consumer protection, fair trade, data security, intellectual property rights, and legal compliance. Its broad coverage encompasses digital transactions, logistical services, and digital payment gateways, while its extension to free zones further promotes competitiveness and market access for companies of all sizes in these areas. 

Here is everything you need to know about its impact on SMEs, fostering innovation, growth, sustainability, and participation in digital commerce.

Clear Legal Obligations and Prohibitions

As an SME, you must meet several specific standards and requirements, starting with:

  • Having the necessary legal capacity to engage in digital transactions;

  • Complying with all applicable laws, regulations, and technical standards.

You must also:

  • Sell only goods or services that are legally permitted for sale; 

  • Comply with competition protection terms to ensure fair competition in the marketplace; 

  • Adhere to regulations regarding promotional and marketing activities.

In your dealings with consumers specifically, you must:

  • Maintain technical security measures to protect their data during browsing and purchasing; 

  • Specify terms, conditions, and prices transparently to build trust; 

  • Provide them with detailed non-paper invoices for transparency and record-keeping purposes.

Naturally, you’re prohibited from providing them with misleading or false information.

Lastly, you must have business continuity plans in place in the event of risks or crises, and you are obligated to provide any requested information to regulatory authorities.

Consumer Rights’ Protections

More in detail, the new law clearly delineates what you, as an SME, must do to comply with consumer rights' legal protections in the UAE.

Consumers have the right to:

  • Receive goods and services as described;

  • Opt in or out of marketing campaigns; 

  • Provide transparent evaluations of goods, services, and payment gateways;

  • Submit complaints regarding goods or services purchased digitally from your SME;

  • Any other rights as outlined in existing legislation.

Meanwhile, you must provide consumers with:

  • Access to safe purchasing methods and payment options;

  • Communication channels to submit complaints;

  • Information about your company, including contact details and licensing information.

Consumers are entitled to return goods and services or request their replacement under certain conditions that must be clearly outlined.

Consumers’ Obligations

In turn, the law details consumers’ own obligations, including:

  • Purchasing goods and services through legitimate means;

  • Exercising their right to accept or return services responsibly;

  • Carefully reviewing goods and services’ specifications before purchasing;

  • Paying for goods and services purchased from you.

Violations of the legislation may result in administrative penalties imposed by the Ministry and competent authority and not prejudicing other legal sanctions that may apply. These stringent criteria are meant to protect consumer data and privacy, and enhance SMEs’ competitiveness and trustworthiness, benefitting all.

Create Your Account Now

Sign up now to stay connected to the UAE ecosystem, access exclusive content & market news, and discover initiatives to unlock opportunities.

You might also like