The Saudi Arabian government has taken significant steps towards modernizing and codifying the legal system over recent years. The judicial system is governed by a combination of Islamic Sharia principles and international legal frameworks that have been adopted into Saudi law. As the government continues to promote the Kingdom as an investment destination, it has introduced new regulations and legal mechanisms to ensure that international business deals are protected under its legal system.
For international clients operating in Saudi Arabia, it is important to understand the key legal requirements that must be met when managing a legal case in the country. This includes working with local law firms or international legal teams to ensure that all necessary processes and regulations are followed.
Can You Start a Legal Case in Saudi Arabia as an Overseas Client?
The short answer is yes, you can start a legal case in Saudi Arabia as an overseas client. However, it is important to note that there are certain requirements that must be met in order to do so.
Firstly, the legal issue itself must fall under Saudi jurisdiction. This means that the case must be related to a business transaction, agreement or crime that took place in Saudi Arabia. Additionally, the target of the legal action must be residing in Saudi Arabia. If these conditions apply, then you are eligible to file a legal case in the Kingdom.
The Process of Filing a Legal Case in Saudi Arabia
Filing a legal case in Saudi Arabia is similar to the process in other countries. There are a few key steps that must be followed as outlined below.
1. Consulting with a local law firm
This is an essential first step, as the legal process will be governed by Saudi law and regulations. Typically, each firm will have a specialty area, whether it is commercial law, family law, or criminal law. You may also need to engage the services of an interpreter if your preferred lawyer does not speak English.
2. Preparing your power of attorney
Once you have chosen a law firm to represent you, they will require you to submit a variety of documents as part of the legal process. It is essential that you provide a power of attorney, which must be notarized in your home country and attested by the Saudi Arabian embassy if you are overseas.
3. Gathering all necessary documentation and evidence to support your case
This includes notarized contracts, agreements, or other documentation related to your legal issue. Your legal representative will be able to advise you on what type of documentation is required to support your case.
4. Filing a legal complaint with the relevant court in Saudi Arabia
Once your legal representative has prepared the necessary paperwork, your representative can submit it to the relevant court in Saudi Arabia. Since the pandemic, the court system now permits cases to be heard remotely, via video conferencing. This is particularly beneficial for overseas clients, who may be unable or unwilling to travel to Saudi Arabia for a court hearing. In some cases, your lawyer will meet with the judge on your behalf to argue your case and you will not be required to attend the court.
How Quickly Will My Legal Case in Saudi Arabia Progress?
Thanks to positive reforms, the Saudi legal system moves relatively quickly, with cases often being resolved within a few months. Of course, this will depend on the complexity of your legal issue and whether it requires additional evidence or resources.
If you are taking a case during the holy month of Ramadan, then you should expect that the process may be slower than usual. During the two annual Eid festivals, the court will also close for a period. However, in general, you can expect to see your case move through the legal process relatively quickly and efficiently.
Overseas clients are treated fairly in the Saudi legal system and have the same rights as local clients. As long as you engage with your legal representative and follow the expected process, you should be able to manage your international legal case effectively in Saudi Arabia.