Question: I bought a holiday package for my family online from a popular company, and paid Dh5,000 upfront. I was to avail the scheme before December 2020, which I could not because of international travel restrictions. I have been contacting the company to reimburse the amount, but they are refusing to. Is there a legal recourse?
Pursuant to your queries, we assume that the holiday tour organising company is registered in Dubai. We further assume that you have entered into an online agreement with the company. Therefore, the provisions of Federal Law No. (5) of 1985 on Civil Transactions Law of the UAE (the Civil Transactions Law) and those of Federal Law No. (24) of 2006 on Consumer Protection (the Consumer Protection Law) may be applicable.
It is to be noted that you and the holiday tour organising company have an obligation towards each other to perform the contract in a manner which is in consonance with the principles of good faith.
This is in accordance with Article 246 (1) of the Civil Transactions Law, which states: “The contract shall be implemented, according to the provisions contained therein and in a manner consistent with the requirements of good faith.”
Further, you and the holiday tour organising company need to fulfil the obligations mentioned in the contract. This is in accordance with Article 243 (2) of the Civil Transactions Law, which states: “As regards the contract’s rights (obligations), each of the contracting parties shall fulfil what the contract has bound him to do.”. Based on the aforementioned provisions of law, both you and the holiday tour organising company have to fulfil the obligations as agreed upon in the online agreement. While, you have already fulfilled your basic obligation of payment of amount to the holiday tour organising company, the company’s basic obligation to organise the tour, has not been fulfilled.
If the online agreement mentions that the company is not under an obligation to return the amount paid by you if the tour is cancelled due to the reasons attributed to you or those beyond their control, then you may not be in a position to claim the refund.
However, if the agreement does not mention any conditions related to cancellation of the tour, the amount will be refunded to you if the cancellation is due to reasons beyond anyone’s control.
The international travel restrictions due to pandemic may be considered as a force majeure event in your case, as you and the holiday tour organising company are not able to fulfil the obligations in the contract due to unforeseen circumstances.
The term ‘Force Majeure’ may be defined as, “unforeseeable circumstances that prevent someone from fulfilling a contract.”
Thereby, the agreed terms and conditions or the online agreement may be revoked. This is in accordance with Article 273 (1) of the Civil Transactions Law, which states: “In bilateral contracts, if a force majeure arises that makes the performance of the obligation impossible, the corresponding obligation shall, be extinguished and the contract ipso facto rescinded.”
Therefore, depending upon the terms agreed in the contract entered by both parties, you may request the holiday tour organising company to refund the entire amount of Dh5,000.
However, if the holiday tour organising company does not agree to refund the entire amount, you may approach the Consumer Protection Department based in the Dubai Department of Economic Development and file a complaint.
This is in accordance with Article 4 (6) of the Consumer Protection Law, which states: “A department shall be set up in the Ministry under the name of the Consumer Protection Department and shall carry out the following competencies:
“Receive consumers’ complaints and adopt the procedures in this regard or refer them to the competent authorities. The complaint may be submitted directly by the consumer, and may be submitted by the consumer protection association for it is considered a representative of the complainant.”.
On the other hand, you may also lodge a civil complaint at the Centre for Amicable Settlement of Disputes at the Dubai Courts.
The centre is a reconciliation department of the Dubai Courts which deals with claims amounting below Dh200,000.