The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is a vibrant and rapidly changing nation, with new laws and regulations being introduced at an unprecedented pace. In this article, we take a look back at the major legal developments that took place in KSA during 2022 and what to expect in 2023.
From changes to family law to new measures designed to promote economic growth, there have been a number of significant legislative moves made by KSA over the past year. We review these important changes here and consider how they may affect businesses operating in the country going forward.
New Laws Introduced in 2022
As part of the National Transformation Program, KSA implemented several new laws in 2022. Some of the areas of focus included family law, corporate governance and data protection. These changes bring greater clarity and certainty to both businesses and residents in KSA.
Personal Status Law
One of the most significant changes to be implemented in 2022 was the new Personal Status Law. The law addressed several issues related to marriage, divorce, inheritance and child custody. It was designed to protect the stability of Saudi families and provide a clear legal framework for resolving disputes. The law has been widely praised by the legal community for its provision of greater legal clarity for matters related to the family.
In 2022, KSA also introduced a new Evidence Law, which aimed to streamline the process of collecting, presenting, and assessing evidence in civil and commercial cases. With the imminent enforcement of the Evidence Law, it will supersede all provisions found in both the Law of Civil Procedure and the Law of Commercial Courts regarding evidence law.
The new law brings a breadth of evidence types to the table, ranging from judicial and non-judicial, written in both official or ordinary documents, digital records, testimonies through custom, and habit or oaths taken by witnesses. Additionally, any evidence regulated by Sharia laws can also be entered into consideration.
The new Companies Law streamlined the business registration process and provided greater flexibility to entrepreneurs looking to start their own ventures in KSA. The newest Law, reflecting the Kingdom’s 2030 Vision, introduces far-reaching changes to enable businesses more flexibility while safeguarding their interests. It is also carefully crafted to empower the private sector and adhere to global best practices.
With the New Law in effect, investors are now able to form any of these five types of businesses: Joint Liability Company, Limited Partnership Company, Joint Stock Company, Simple Joint Stock Company, and Limited Liability Company.
Executive Regulations for the Personal Data Protection Law (PDPL)
The Executive Regulations for the Personal Data Protection Law (PDPL) was due to come into force in 2022, although it was first introduced in 2021. The PDPL is designed to increase consumer rights and ensure that organizations are taking appropriate measures to protect personal data.
Under the new regulations, organizations must appoint a privacy officer and implement robust data security measures. They must also ensure that all employees receive data protection and privacy training. Additionally, organizations are required to keep records of their data processing activities and provide clear information about how personal data will be used. However, after consultation with concerned stakeholders, the full enforcement of this legislature is delayed until 2023.
Looking Ahead: 2023
KSA is expected to make further steps towards introducing new legislation in 2023, aimed at strengthening and accelerating the Kingdom’s economic development.
Proposed laws include a new bylaw, which allows tourists to rent short-term accommodation in Saudi, such as through Airbnb and HomeAway. This will open the door to the tourism industry and create increased opportunities for Saudi homeowners to make additional income.
By June 2023, regulations related to the licencing of law firms in the Kingdom are set to change, and legal businesses are encouraged to prepare now. All foreign law firms wishing to operate in Saudi Arabia must now submit an application for a license from the Ministry of Justice and demonstrate that they meet certain prerequisites.
The Executive Regulations for the Personal Data Protection Law (PDPL) will also undergo another review before it comes into full force in March 2023. It is expected that this law will be further enhanced to ensure proper implementation.
Saudi’s efforts to modernize and globalize its legal system will continue, with further laws and regulations being explored in 2023. Looking forward, it is clear that the Kingdom is determined to create a compliant and secure legal environment for all businesses, consumers and investors.