UAE competition law: All bark and no bite?

By James Bowden and Abdus Samad, Afridi & Angell

Federal Law No. 4 of 2012 (the Competition Law) introduced a regime for the regulation of anti-competitive behaviour in the UAE, which previously did not exist. If implemented strictly this law would have significant effects on UAE business. The law came into force on 23 February 2013 and introduces merger/acquisition clearance requirements and prohibitions against anti-competitive agreements and activities which constitute abuse of a dominant position, as well as some anti-competitive trade practices.

A photo of James Bowden
James Bowden

To date, the Competition Law has not been enforced, partly because the law left key details to be set out in regulations that were to follow. The regulations issued do not provide the clarity that is needed. Still, compliance with the Competition Law is (ostensibly) mandatory as it is a current, valid UAE law, and with the issuance of the regulations it could start to enjoy some level of enforcement.

It is worth noting that the regulations set out a mechanism for making complaints against parties allegedly in breach of the Competition Law and the UAE Ministry of Economy’s duty to investigate once a complaint is accepted.

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James Bowden is a partner at Afridi & Angell, a UAE-based law firm with offices in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, the Dubai International Financial Centre and Sharjah. Abdus Samad is an associate at the firm.


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