Justice and Judiciary

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 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 the 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.

Courts of the Judicial System in Saudi Arabia

The courts are an essential pillar in the state; their presence plays a major role in the stability of the state and the preservation of the private and public interests of the people, and to ensure this, the judicial system in Saudi Arabia is divided into four bodies, each with its own systems and legislation.

At the pinnacle of the legal system, it may receive a complaint against the court that rendered the in-question decision but is not a party to separate litigation. Its main role is to review Hudud cases (murder, amputation, stoning, …etc.); it reviews the decisions in terms of the correct application of the Islamic rules and 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. The Supreme Court's jurisdiction is confined to four cases:

  1. 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
  2. Second case: Oversee judgments issued by the appellate courts
  3. 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
  4. Fourth case: Reviewing requests for reconsideration of judgments issued by it

Appellate Courts

After hearing the statements of the litigants in accordance with the procedures prescribed in the Sharia Procedure Law and the Law of Criminal Procedure, the courts of appeal shall review the judgments issued by the courts of first instance. The courts of appeal have the exclusive jurisdiction to hear requests for judicial review of their decisions.

First Instance Courts

The courts of first instance are divided into general courts, criminal courts, labor courts, commercial courts, and personal status courts. There are two grounds on which jurisdictional rules between Courts of First Instance are based:

  • Qualitative Jurisdiction: The jurisdiction rules are adopted by the Courts of First Instance based on the nature of the dispute, whether it is commercial, criminal, urgent matters, and so on, regardless of the case's value.
  • Spatial Jurisdiction: The pertinent court has a focus on the legal issues that arise in its geographic circuit.

Enforcement Courts

Enforcement Courts shall proceed to adjudicate execution disputes regardless of their value. These courts are composed of specialized chambers, each with one or more judges, and have the power to execute and supervise the compulsory execution. The Enforcement Courts shall have jurisdiction to execute the following bonds: 
  • 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 Saudi Arabia, laws are promulgated after five stages, which are supplemented by constitutional regulations before becoming law. The stages of issuing laws in the Saudi Arabia include the following:

Suggestion stage: 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 in issuing and adopting the law.

Voting stage: 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.

Validation stage: 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.

Release stage: 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.

Publication stage: 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 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 conditions above 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, assignment, or conciliation, or accept the oath, direct it, return it, 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 canceled, 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 canceled and will not be open to resumption without a decision from the Supreme Court

 

Attendance 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 whether it is fit for judgment. In the case that the court rules on it, the judgment 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 judgment 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 did not attend, or if the defendant attends any hearing and then was absent, the court will rule on the case and its judgment 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 Saudi Arabia, does not attend after his statement, the court will rule on the case and its judgment 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 judgment 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 severe 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

Judicial Services

  1. E-file Statement of Claim: 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
  2. 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.
  3. Existing Case Application - Court Najiz: The service enables case parties and their representatives to submit requests for cases electronically. If there are deficiencies in the data, they can complete the request electronically and resend it to the court
  4. E-Request for Enforcement of a Verdict: An e-service provided by the Ministry of Justice, which enables beneficiaries to fill out the data of the claimant and respondent, the data of the executive document, its number, date, source, and type
  5. 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
  6. Zawaj - E-Marriage Contract: A service provided by the Ministry of Justice that allows the completion of all marriage contract procedures electronically through the platform easily
  7. 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:

  1. A party requesting arbitration should fill out the Request for Arbitration Form 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
  2. 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
  3. The Respondent shall communicate to the Claimant a Response to the Request for Arbitration as per the Rules
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. The Tribunal will deliberate, prepare and deliver the Award no later than 60 days from the date of the closing of the hearing

More details on Arbitration Procedures Guide.

Online Dispute Resolution

The ODR Service offers sophisticated procedures and the latest technologies in a virtual format to resolve small-scale commercial disputes through arbitration. It is flexible and ensures fast and cost-efficient resolution of such disputes.

Arbitration Fee Calculator

The website of the Saudi Center for Commercial Arbitration provides an Arbitration Fee Calculator by entering the amount of the dispute to be calculated in Saudi riyals and US dollars. Please visit the service page.

Reaching out to Accredited Lawyers

Visitors to the Ministry of Justice's website can search for and obtain the names of the ministry's accredited attorneys as well as their contact information. To access the Practicing Lawyers Directory, click here You can also search for licensed Lawyers accredited by the ministry by visiting this page.

Justice for Women

Justice and equality are cornerstones of  Saudi Arabia's Basic Law of Governance, and because upholding human rights is a fundamental responsibility of Saudi Arabia, it has made it a goal to guarantee the ongoing protection of women in society by upholding their rights and issuing judgments and orders pertaining to those rights. This is done by taking the necessary steps to meet their needs for protection throughout the legal system, the ability to request reconciliation services, the empowerment of women as attorneys, all of which contribute to the overall social development and empowerment of women in the justice system and the general work

For more details click here.

Justice for the Disabled People

The ongoing concern of Saudi Arabia to provide a decent life for its citizens extends to those with disabilities as well. People with disabilities, one of society's most important groups, are given access to their rights through continuously improved services dedicated to them, providing the necessary prevention, care, and rehabilitation methods that help prevent, reduce, and detect early stages of disability. People with disabilities are legally protected under the Islamic law-based Basic Law of Governance, which guarantees justice and equality and prohibits discrimination against all members of society, including the disabled.
- For more details click here.

Justice for Elderly

The Basic Law of Governance safeguards the elderly by establishing a reliable social security system. While the United Nations General Assembly has adopted principles that guarantee the rights of the elderly, such as their right to independence, participation, care, and dignity. Saudi Arabia has established many services for them, such as health and social services, logistics, and education and training services - for example, the Ministry of Justice has launched a free service known as "mobile notary offices," which provides services to seniors who are unable to go to notary oath offices.

Mobile Applications for the Justice and Legal Affairs Sector

To discover the key government applications for the Justice and Legal Affairs Sector, please click here.

Important Links

Relevant Agencies