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Judiciary system in Saudi Arabia

The government of Saudi Arabia is keen to mitigate any obstacles encountered by the judicial system in Saudi Arabia. Competent agencies facilitate prosecution, expedite proceedings and settlement of disputes. This section reviews the efforts Ministry of Justice is making with respect to proceedings. Moreover, it highlights types of courts and how to communicate with licensed lawyers:

Several types of courts within the country’s judicial system

According to the website of Ministry of Justice, there are three types of courts. At the top comes the supreme court, followed by courts of appeal, then courts of first instance at the bottom of the judicial hierarchy.

  • Type 1: Supreme Court
    • According to the Saudi judicial system, there is only one Supreme Court in Saudi Arabia. This court oversees implementation of Islamic laws and decrees issued by the Saudi Monarch in conformity therewith in matters that lie within the jurisdiction of the general judiciary system.
  • Type 2: Courts of Appeal
    • According to the Saudi judicial system, in each region of Saudi Arabia there is one or more courts of appeal. Dubbed as “Second Degree Courts”, they review verdicts issued by courts of first instance, that are subject to appeal, within their respective jurisdiction.
  • Type 3: Courts of first instance

Available in all provinces and regions of Saudi Arabia, courts of first instance are entrusted with all claims that fall within their respective jurisdiction. Verdicts issued by courts of first instance are subject to appeal except those issued in simple claims identified by the Higher Judicial Council.

Courts of first instance deal with a variety of claims that are divided into five types:

General courts are entrusted with all claims and final evidence that fall out of the jurisdiction of other courts, notary public or Grievance Tribunal.

Criminal courts are available in various provinces and regions of Saudi Arabia. They deal with all criminal cases and all matters upon which the verdict on a criminal case before the same court depends, unless otherwise is indicated in the system. 

Matrimonial Courts: (Available in various provinces and regions of Saudi Arabia, matrimonial courts deal with all matrimonial claims).

Business courts: Available in various provinces and regions of Saudi Arabia, business courts deal with all principal and sequential business disputes.

Labor Courts: Available in various provinces and regions of Saudi Arabia, labor courts deal with labor disputes of all types and forms.


Legal proceedings at Saudi courts

Firstly – Appearance of adversaries and power of attorney

Adversaries or their attorneys shall appear before the court at the established date.

1- Conditions governing appearance of attorneys:

  • An adversary can appoint an attorney
  • The attorney  shall identify himself as representative of the adversary
  • The attorney  shall submit an authenticated power of attorney
  • The court may establish a date for the attorney to deliver his power of attorney to the court no later than the date of the hearing session. A power of attorney may be indicated in the session proceedings duly signed by the attorney.
  • Failure to appear before the court shall render the adversary  absent

2- Powers invested in the attorney

  • Any statement made by the attorney at the presence of his client shall be considered to have been made by the client himself, unless denied by the client during the proceedings of the same hearing session.
  • Should the client fail to appear, the attorney should not acknowledge, assign or settle the claim in part or in whole, file an appeal, lift sequestration, initiate fraud allegation, nominate an expert unless specifically indicated in the power of attorney.

3- Resignation or removal of the attorney

The attorney shall not resign or be removed without approval of the court, unless the client advised his adversary that he assigned another attorney to replace the existing one or that he intends to pursue the case by himself.

4- The court may change the attorney if he is using evasion tactics.

In which case the court may demand the client pursue the case by himself or appoint another attorney.

5- Barriers to power of attorney

The judge, member of the Public Investigation & Prosecution or any court staff member to assume the role of an attorney on behalf of a client even the case is another court. However, he can assume an attorney role on behalf of his family members.


Secondly: Failure of client(s) to attend court sessions

1- Absence of the Plaintiff

  • If the plaintiff fails to attend a session without filing an excuse acceptable to the court, the claim will be cancelled. However, he may thereafter file a petition for the court to reconsider its decision.
  • If the plaintiff fails to attend once again, the court will cancel the claim. The claim will only be reconsidered in response to a decision from the Supreme Court

2- Appearance of the Defendant and absence of the Plaintiff

If the Defendant attended the session and the Plaintiff fails to attend, he may ask the court to issue its judgement in the claim.

3- Non-appearance of the Defendant

  • If the Defendant fails to attend the first session because he was not summoned, the session will be deferred to a later date. If he fails to attend the deferred session without an excuse acceptable to the court and he was not summoned, the court will issue its judgement on the case in his absence
  • If the Defendant or his attorney  was summoned  for a session or he files a memo before the session and fails to attend or attend any session and was absent thereafter, the court will issue its judgement in his presence
  • If a Defendant  who has no known residence in Saudi Arabia, was duly summoned but failed to attend, the court will issue its judgement in his absence
  • If a Defendant  on marital issues, children custody, support and deprivation from marriage, the court may order forcible attendance of the Defendant
  • If there are more than one defendant and some of them are summoned by the court while the others are not and they did not attend the session, the court may postpone the session unless the case is classified as an urgent case.

4- Appearing of the plaintiff, the defendant or their attorneys during an ongoing session is regarded valid appearance:

Appearing of any party thirty minutes before the end of the session shall be considered valid appearance.

5- Appeal against a judgement by default

  • An appeal  against a judgement by default can be filed within the prescribed period
  • An appeal memorandum shall indicate judgement number, date and the reasons of appeal
  • If the appealing party or his attorney fail to appear in the first session, the court may issue a final decision to deny his right for the appeal
  • If requested by the appealing party, the court may  temporarily suspend the judgement for fear of an unavoidable major damage
  • The judgement by default shall be suspended if a counter judgement is issued to the effect of cancelling the judgement by default.


Communication with licensed lawyers:

Ministry of Justice provides search service for lawyers duly licensed by the Ministry. Visitors to the Ministry’s portal are provided with search facility on the names of licensed lawyers and their contact details by city. For Inquiry about licensed lawyers.

Last Modified Date: 10/01/2018 - 4:47 PM Saudi Arabia Time

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