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International Litigation - Saudi Arabia

posted 7 months ago


Mohamed Gabal



+966 5*****

The Law Firm of Salah Al-Hejailan LLC, in association with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (“LFSH”), performs all legal works and services through its highly qualified legal cadres. LFSH has two departments – the litigation department and the corporate department.

As for litigation, there are two aspects. The first is to provide legal advice to clients wishing to know their legal status through study and research by lawyers and consultants with the highest degree of experience and efficiency, which leads to providing legal advice to inform each client of their legal status. The second is the representation of clients, by pleading, defending and acting on their behalf before all judicial authorities or quasi-judicial committees, as well as in arbitration cases. This is achieved by studying the position of the dispute and developing appropriate strategies to guide the course of the dispute, as well as drafting statements of claim, reply memoranda, objections and appeal to the Supreme Court to reach the final judicial judgement and the implementation of the judgement.

The second of the company’s sections is the corporate department, whose task is to carry out all work related to the commercial field, including but not limited to: company formation and drafting of all types of commercial contracts; acquisition contracts; establishment of companies under the laws and regulations issued by government authorities, such as the Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Investment; all licensing work; developing and amending the company’s articles of association; drafting partners’ decisions; liquidating companies and preventive settlement from bankruptcy.

LFSH, given its vast experience in all types of cases, can provide all legal services to companies, whether local or international, because LFSH has a multinational team that can deal with many cases, evaluate the legal position of clients and provide legal advice, whether for local or international companies, as well as providing preventive legal advice and advice, and evaluating clients before all courts of all degrees and types, whether in front of general courts, commercial courts or administrative courts – as well as cases related to the rights of employers and workers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

One recent case study involves a dispute between a globally known port operator (the “Client”) and the King Abdulaziz Port Authority (the “Authority”) in Dammam. In this case, the contract under which the Client was operating King Abdulaziz Port expired, and a dispute arose between the Client and the Authority regarding the ownership and return of equipment used in the operation of the port during the term of the contract. LFSH successfully represented the Client before the Administrative Court of First Instance, and subsequently, before the Court of Appeal. LFSH obtained a judgement in favour of the Client, obliging the Authority to return the equipment worth approximately one billion Saudi riyals.

Litigation in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is currently witnessing a boom and a qualitative shift represented in judicial electronic dealing through a government electronic platform whereby all lists of lawsuits, cases and memoranda exchanged between the parties to the dispute are submitted, objections and appeals are submitted to judgements, as well as attending sessions remotely. LFSH, having qualified cadres and competencies, pleads and defends before all judicial authorities of different types and degrees. There are also other methods of litigation that vary according to the nature of the dispute, including the Committee for the Resolution of Insurance Disputes and Violations, as well as the Committee for the Resolution of Tax Violations and Disputes. There is an exceptional way to resolve disputes by agreement of the parties, which is arbitration, which has spread widely in recent times.

There is no specific type of client that is more suited to litigation than another type, as the Saudi judiciary is in line with most effective systems in various countries so that any stakeholder can file a lawsuit with the judicial authorities competent to consider the dispute. The main criteria that must be taken into account in the field of litigation are: (a) time, (b) judicial costs, and (c) the costs of appointing expert firms in the case. Moreover, the value of the claim must be taken into account to determine whether there is an actual value to issuing a judgement and pursuing litigation in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where the judicial costs system was issued in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in order to reduce malicious lawsuits and the preoccupation of the judiciary with lawsuits that affect the speed of disposition of cases.

One of the innovations in the Saudi regulations is the existence of reconciliation or mediation offices affiliated with the Saudi Ministry of Justice that must be resorted to before filing the case before the competent court to consider the dispute, including what is stipulated in the system of commercial courts and its executive regulations in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This includes the necessity of resorting to reconciliation and mediation before registering the case, which is a method that helps litigants and law firms settle the dispute in an amicable manner between the parties in order to avoid the judicial costs borne by the losing party.

  • The difference in how Saudi Arabia’s judicial system works, compared with other jurisdictions, is difficult for foreign clients or even lawyers to understand;
  • The prohibition of requesting or imposing interest is also an important factor that may significantly affect the value of international claims, especially when it comes to the enforcement of these provisions in Saudi Arabia;
  • Translating documents from English to Arabic, as all documents must be translated into Arabic in order to be presented as evidence to the Saudi courts. In addition, ensuring the accuracy of the translation is a real challenge that should not be underestimated;
  • In most countries, it is permissible for a foreign lawyer to plead before the courts, but here in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, it is not permissible to plead before the judicial authorities except through Saudi lawyers. Moreover, the commercial court system stipulates an additional condition: that the Saudi lawyer must hold a law licence from the Saudi Bar Association in some commercial cases.

This area of law is still in its infancy in Saudi Arabia, and we are not aware of any important issues currently raised.

The exchange of legal information and opinions through conferences and events is very important for the litigation community, through which all legal and judicial systems are introduced. How to deal with each legal system, as well as the definition of different laws and cases, are all dealt with from different perspectives by clarifying important points, such as jurisdiction and legal capacity.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is witnessing further development, represented by the issuance of several new laws to keep pace with the changing legal landscape. The most important of these new legislations is the Law of Civil Procedure, which will enter into force soon, which is a Saudi law approved by the Saudi Council of Ministers on 14 June 2023 – to be the reference to regulate the relationship between individuals in their dealings, reduce cases of disputes, and reduce the duration of adjudication of disputes. It is the third project of the specialised legislation system issued after the Personal Status Law and the Law of Evidence, which require law practitioners in the Kingdom to be constantly aware of research and knowledge – to keep abreast with developments in the legal sphere.

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