This section is dedicated to the efforts carried out by the Ministry of Justice in relation to litigation proceedings. It will take you through the four bodies of the Judicial System in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia including the Supreme Court, Appellate Court, First Instant Court, and Enforcement Court. It will also highlight the five stages of issuing laws, which consist of Suggestion Stage, Voting Stage, Validation Stage, Release Stage and Publication Stage. Another important factor in the justice system is the method of legal proceedings in Saudi courts, the seven judicial services, arbitration for commercial disputes and contacting licensed lawyers.
The courts are an essential pillar of the State. Its presence plays a major role in preserving the security and stability of it and the private and public interests of the people. Therefore, the Judicial System in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is divided into four bodies, each of which has its own laws and regulations.
Levels of Courts in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
The Supreme Court is classified at the top of the judicial organization to receive a complaint against the court that issued the impugned decision and is not a party to separate litigation. Its main role is to review Hudud cases (murder, amputation, stoning, or legal retribution and what is less than killing) It reviews the decisions in terms of the correct application of the rules Islamic rules and regulations and its, their interpretation, as well as in terms of the procedures followed in the trial, without having anything to do with portraying the facts or assessing the evidence.
Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court
The Courts of Appeal shall review the judgments issued by the courts of First instance, after hearing the litigants' statements, in accordance with the Shari’ah Procedure Law and Law of Criminal Procedure.
Jurisdiction of Appellate Courts
Resolute requests seeking reconsideration of judgments issued by it.
Jurisdiction of First Instance Courts
The jurisdiction rules are adopted between the courts of First instance on the basis of the type of case, that is, the nature of the dispute whether it is commercial, personal status, urgent matters, etc., regardless of the value of the case.
The relevant court specializes in the disputes that occur in its circuit.
Types of First Instance Courts:
- Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court is limited to four cases, which are:
First case: Review hudud cases such as murder, amputation, stoning, or legal retribution and what is less than killing. The Court, in this case, works as a subject court and not a court of enforcing regulations.
Second case: Oversee judgments issued by the appellate courts regarding:
- Violating the provisions of Sharia law and the regulations issued by the legal Guardian that do not violate the Islamic Laws.
- The decision was issued by a court that was not properly formed, in accordance with the provisions of the law.
- The court was issued by a non-competent circuit.
- An error in conditioning or incorrectly describing the incident In this case, the Supreme Court is a court of application, not a trial court.
Third case: Examining requests to resume the litigation after canceling the case for the second time after the plaintiff’s absence from the hearings with an excuse acceptable to the Court.
Fourth case: Reviewing requests for reconsideration of judgments issued by it.
- General Courts
- Criminal Courts
- Personal Status Courts
- Labor Courts
- Commercial Courts
Courts that resolute execution disputes regardless of their value. It consists of specialized circuits, and each circuit includes one or more judges. It also has the power of compulsory enforcement and supervision over it.
Jurisdiction of Enforcement Courts
They are specialized in enforcing the following:
- Judgments, decisions and orders issued by the courts.
- The arbitrators' provisions attached to the execution order according to the Arbitration Law.
- Reconciliation records issued by the authorities authorized to do so.
- Negotiable instrument
- Notarized contracts and documents
- Judgments, court judgement, decisions of arbitrators, and authenticated instruments in a foreign country
- Ordinary instruments whose content is fully or partially recognized.
- Contracts and other instruments that have executive titles under the Law.
Legislation in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
How are Saudi laws issued?
Laws are issued in the Kingdom after passing five stages that are completed by the constitutional systems. Then, they become laws in effect.
Stages of issuing laws in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia:
The first stage of issuing laws, and upon which the law-enactment process is established. It starts with the preparation of the first draft of the law until its submission to the competent regulatory authority, according to the provisions of voting on it. It is called a bill because it is the first step issuing and adopting the law.
The proposed bill or law is submitted to the regulatory authority for approval or rejection. Approval of the draft law is issued after its presentation to the Council of Ministers in its capacity as the owner of the regulatory authority, in a secret session in which the draft is discussed and voted on in the presence of the concerned minister or his representative.
It is the third stage of issuing laws in which the approval of the session president is obtained to turn the proposed bill or system into an official law. This stage ends after the King's approval for the council’s decision.
It is the stage of the birth of the law and the recognition of its existence and validity in form and content, in which the head of the regulatory authority works to implement it at the same time, in order to achieve two things: to register the legal recognition of the law, and to assign state departments to implement the provisions of the law, each according to its competence.
It is the last stage of issuing the law in which the law is announced to the people and the date for its implementation is determined, a process by which the law is fully enforceable and approved.
Legal Proceedings at Saudi Courts
First - Attendance and Power of Attorney in the litigation:
On the day designated for hearing the case, the litigants will attend themselves, or whoever acts on their behalf. If the representative is an attorney, he shall be the one who has the right to trust according to the Law.
Conditions of validity of attending through the Power of Attorney :
- It must be attended by someone who may be authorized to attend the litigation.
- The agent must decide to attend on behalf of his client.
- The agent must deposit a certified copy of his mandate document with the competent clerk.
- The court may authorize the attorney when necessary to deposit the copy of the document at a date specified, provided that this does not exceed the first session of the pleading. The power of attorney may be proven in the session with a report written down in its official record, and signed or fingerprinted on it with his thumb by the authorizer. The obligation of depositing referred to above is applied to the trustee, guardian and overseer. Failure to do one of the aforementioned conditions leads to the opponent being considered absent.
The powers of the Attorney
All that the attorney decides in the presence of the authorizer shall be equivalent to what the authorizer himself decides unless he denies it during the consideration of the case in the same session.
If the authorizer does not attend, it is not valid for the attorney to acknowledge the claimed right, or assignment, or conciliation, or accept the oath, direct it, or return it, or leave the litigation, or waive the judgment - in whole or in part - or through any of the methods of appeal against it, revoking the legal interdiction, leaving the mortgage with the debt remaining, or claiming forgery, or the judge’s recusal, or the choice of the expert, unless he is authorized to do so in the mandate.
The resigning or dismissed Attorney
The resigning or dismissed attorney without the approval of the court does not prevent the proceeding of the procedures unless the authorizer informs his opponent of appointing another representative in place of the resigning or dismissed attorney, or of his intention to attend the lawsuit himself.
The authority of the court to change power of attorney in litigation
If one of the agents appears to the court of frequent negligence under the pretext of asking his client for the purpose of procrastination, it has the right to request the presence of the authorizer himself to complete the pleading or to appoint another agent.
Obstacles to power of attorney in litigation
It is not permissible for a judge, a member of the Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecution, or anyone working in the courts to act as an attorney for the litigants in the case even if it is filed before a court other than the one to which he belongs. However, it is permissible for them to do so on behalf of their spouses, their ascendants, their descendants, and those under their legal jurisdiction.
Second – Absence of Plaintiffs or Defendants from the Hearings
Absence of the Plaintiff
- If the plaintiff is absent from a hearing and does not present a valid and excusable reason that is accepted by the court, the court case will be cancelled. If the court case is cancelled, he may request a continuation of the court case based on the circumstances, wherein the court will set a hearing to consider the circumstances and will inform the defendant.
- If the plaintiff is absent and does not present a valid and excusable reason that is accepted by the court, the case will be cancelled and will not be open to resumption without a decision from the Supreme Court.
Presence of the Defendant and Absence of the Plaintiff
- If the defendant attends the hearing and the plaintiff does not, the defendant may request the court to proceed with the lawsuit and decide on whether it is fit for judgement. In the case that the court rules on it, the judgement against the plaintiff shall be deemed ‘in absentia’, meaning not in attendance.
Absence of the Defendant
- If the defendant is absent from the initial hearing and his attorney or representative was not informed, consideration of the case will be postponed to a later hearing in which the defendant will be notified. If the defendant is absent from the agreed upon upcoming hearing without a valid or excusable reason, the court will rule on the case and its judgement against the defendant will be deemed as ‘in absentia’ or ‘not in attendance’.
- If the defendant informs his attorney or representative on the date of the court hearing, and the attorney or representative does not attend, or if the defendant or his attorney deposited a memorandum of his defense with the court before the hearing and do not attend, or if the defendant attends any hearing and then was absent, the court will rule on the case and its judgement against the defendant will be deemed as ‘in the presence of the defendant’.
- If the defendant, who does not have a known place of residence or a selected place of residence in the Kingdom, does not attend after his statement, the court will rule on the case and its judgement against the defendant will be deemed as ‘in absentia’ or ‘in the absence of’.
- If the defendant fails to attend in situations related to marital matters, custody, alimony, visitation or guardianship, the court may order his presence forcibly.
In the case of multiple defendants, if some defendants were able to reach their representatives and others failed to inform their representatives of the court date and all were absent or the representatives who were not informed were absent, the court must postpone the hearing of the case to a later hearing, where the plaintiff is notified of the absentee who has not be informed and the judgement in the case will be deemed as ‘in presence of the defendant’
Opposition to judgment in absentia:
- The convicted person in absentia - during the periods set for the legal objection - has the right to object the judgment before the court that issues it, from the date on which he or his representative was informed of the judgment.
- The opposition application shall be submitted in a memorandum in accordance with the procedures established for the prosecution, provided that the memorandum includes the number of the opposing judgment, its date, and the reasons for the opposition.
- If the opponent or his representative is absent from the first session of the opposition hearing; The court decides on its own initiative to waive his right to object, and this resolution is final.
- The court may order to temporarily suspend the execution of the opposing judgment if this is requested in the memorandum of opposition and he fears that the execution will cause serious and irreparable harm.
- The enforcement of the judgment in absentia shall be suspended if a judgment issued opposing the judgment in absentia requires its annulment.
- E-file Statement of Claim: through it, you can file a lawsuit by entering the data of the plaintiffs, defendants, and their attorneys or lawyers, while recording the subject matter of the lawsuit, its type, the requirements of the case and its grounds, with the choice of the competent court.
- Remote litigation: the case’s parties and their representatives can litigate online through the Najiz portal. They also can respond to the department’s requests without the need to review the court in cases of the remote litigation track.
- Applications for Cases Courts - Najiz Courts: the plaintiff, the defendant or their representative can submit requests for e-cases to be reviewed by the specialists in the court and follow up the request with the owner, until the applicant is notified of the acceptance or rejection of the request from the judicial department
- E-file Enforcement Application: a service that allows the beneficiary to submit an application to the Court of Appellate to enforce of the executive document, whether it is a sum of money, a court ruling, or a report in matters of personal status “custody, visit, alimony” or if the subject of execution is actually or abstaining from an act or omission Such as "real estate eviction, documents delivery, sale by public auction"
- Taradi Platform: a platform that aims to facilitate the reconciliation process between the parties and motivate them to bridge the gap in views to reach an agreement satisfactory to all parties.
- E-Marriage Contract: aservice provided by the Ministry of Justice that allows the completion of all marriage contract procedures electronically through the platform easily.
- Issuing an e-power of attorney: it is possible to issue a power of attorney electronically and approve the mandate directly without the need to visit a notary. All parties to the mandate are also notified of the completion of their issuance.
To see more services, please visit this page.
Arbitration for Commercial Disputes
The Saudi Center for Commercial Arbitration provides business Arbitration. Its procedures are as follows:
- A party requesting an arbitration should fill out the Request for Arbitration From and submit it to SCCA and send a copy of the Request to the Respondent. The party initiating the arbitration shall pay the appropriate filing fee as per the SCCA Administrator and Arbitrators’ Fee Schedule.
- The SCCA shall communicate the Notice of Arbitration to the Respondent as per the Arbitration Rules and request a response as per the limitation set forth in the Rules.
- The Respondent shall communicate to the Claimant a Response to the Request for Arbitration as per the Rules.
- The SCCA will conduct an administrative conference before the Tribunal is constituted to facilitate party discussion and agreement on issues such as arbitrator selection, languages, locations, channels of communication, process efficiencies, and any other administrative matters.
- After the arbitrator(s) are chosen, the SCCA will contact the arbitrators and notify them of their appointment and follow the procedures set forth on the Rules regarding disclosures.
- Before referring the dispute to the Tribunal, the parties shall pay the Final Fee and the Arbitrators’ Fee as per the SCCA Administrator and Arbitrators’ Fee Schedule.
- The Tribunal shall set a time for a preliminary hearing via a conference call where parties present their case and to determine the procedural order such as the time of hearing for the arbitration process.
- When the parties do not have any further proof to offer or witnesses to be heard or submissions to make, or if the Tribunal is satisfied that the record is complete, then it declares the hearing closed.
- The Tribunal will deliberate, prepare and deliver the Award in no later than 60 days from the date of the closing of the hearing.
More details on Arbitration Procedures Guide.
The Online Dispute Resolution Protocol is designed to resolve small disputes, with a cap amount of 200,000 SAR, quickly, fairly, and inexpensively in order to move on with their business relationship.
The website of the Saudi Center for Business Arbitration provides an Arbitration Fees Calculator by entering the amount of the dispute to be calculated in Saudi riyals and US dollars. Please, visit the service page.
Contact Licensed Lawyers
The Ministry of Justice enable searching for lawyers accredited to the Ministry, and provides visitors to this section through its electronic portal with searching and obtaining names of accredited lawyers and ways to contacting them by selecting the city, beside inquiring about practicing lawyers. To apply for a lawyer search service, please visit this page.
You can also view all services related to lawyers at the Ministry of Justice.
Justice for Women
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia provides all its citizens with their rights and guarantees a decent life for them. The basic system of government in the Kingdom is based on justice and equality. Protecting human rights is an essential duty of the Kingdom and as a result, the Kingdom has set out on a mission to ensure the continuous protection of women in society by preserving their rights and issuing decisions and orders in relation to their rights. This is carried out by the implementation of necessary measures to facilitate the needs of ensuring their protection throughout the legal system, allowing them to request reconciliation services, empower women as lawyers and obtain a notarized license thus leading to the overall social development and empowerment of females in the justice system and general workforce. For more details click here.
Justice for People with Disabilities
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s ongoing concern to providing a decent life to its citizens extends to those with disabilities as well. Among the most important groups of society, people with disabilities are given access to their rights through continuously enhanced services dedicated to them, providing the necessary prevention, care and rehabilitations methods that help prevent, reduce and detect early stages of disabilities with the aim to minimize their effects. Legally, people with disabilities are protected under the Basic Law of Governance in accordance with the Islamic law, which ensures justice, equality and prohibits discrimination against all individuals of society, including the disabled. For more details click here.
Justice for Elderly
The Kingdom’s efforts to improve the care and quality of life of the elderly is essential and provided by a number of initiatives and valued services. The Basic Law protects the elderly by providing a stable social security system, while the United Nations General Assembly adopted the following principles related to the elderly which includes their right to independence, participation, care, self-realization, and dignity. There are numerous services provided to the elderly dedicated to health, social services, logistic services, and education and training services. Additionally, the Ministry of Justice’s launched a free service, known as the Mobile Notarial Offices, which provide services to the elderly who are unable to physically make their way to the offices of notaries of justice. The Ministerial Agency of Civil Affairs also launched the Taqdeer Service, which provides all the necessary services to the elderly by visiting them at home. click here to download the service application (App Store — Google Play ).
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