With Saudi Arabia vision 2030, the Ministry of Justice has been working to improve the judicial system, and one of the important changes is the new Commercial Courts Law. The new law consists of 96 articles divided into eleven chapters and was published in the Official Gazette, “Umm Al-Qura”, on 14/08/1441 (corresponding to 07/04/2020).
The Commercial Courts Law with the implementing regulation aims to improve, clarify, and speed the degree of litigation between companies and traders. One of the important goals is also to increase trust in commercial dealings at both the local and international levels.
Main key features:
- Obligation to resort to amicable settlement before filing the case.
- The right to cross-examine litigants and witnesses.
- Class actions lawsuits.
- Setting maximum periods for proceedings.
- Specific lawsuits can only be filed by lawyers.
- Handling copyrights and patents related cases.
- Disclosure: a party to a commercial litigation case can now ask the other party (or a third party) to disclose documents in its possession.
- Statute of limitations- five years.
- The freedom for companies to determine the procedures to be followed to settle disputes.
- Fines: a fine shall be imposed on the party that delays and procrastinates in hearings or does not follow the order of the lawsuit.
- Summary Proceedings: to be settled within three days.
- Allowing public access to the data of commercial cases.
- Any of the litigation procedures before the Commercial Courts can be performed via electronic means.
- The public are allowed to access commercial cases data and documents against a prescribed fee.
- Serving Notices: straightforward and fast (i.e. electronic addresses used by the parties in their submissions,residential addresses, for foreigners any address used in the Saudi Arabia, lawyers can accept services of court notices).
- Contesting the jurisdiction: the court shall decide within 20 days from the date of application if it has no jurisdiction over the case.
- The claimant is required to submit all requests and documents with the statement of claim.
- A judge can impose travel bans.
- Written affidavit by witnesses are acceptable.
- Performance Orders:new procedure to give the Commercial Court more flexibility in granting relief to an aggrieved party.
- Objecting to judgments: various time limits in relation to judgments and appeals.
- Private Sector Assistance:assistance from the private sector to help speed up the administration of justice, allowing the courts to sub-contract out administrative and procedural tasks to more efficient private sector companies.
The new law will simplify, clarify and speed litigation procedures in Saudi Arabia, leading to a greater certainty in the dispute resolution process. The new law is a highly significant reform.