Saudi Arabia bankruptcy law comes into effect

August 19, 2018

Analysts say the landmark regulations will draw further foreign investment to Riyadh Getty Images

A landmark bankruptcy law that will help to attract foreign investment took effect in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, the country’s Ministry of Commerce said.

The law, which was approved in February, will be enforced after the Eid Al Adha holiday. The ministry said the “measure aims to strengthen investor confidence”.

The 231 articles include general regulations, preventive actions, measures for financial restructuring, and settlement procedures, all of which come as part of Riyadh’s Vision 2030 – a programme that aims to reduce the kingdom’s reliance on oil, boost foreign investments and promote business creation.

Analysts predicted that the new law would help to attract overseas investment, improve credit growth and allow the country’s small businesses to thrive as the process of unwinding insolvent companies is simplified.


The regulations follow consultations with the private and public sectors, and more are likely in an effort to ensure proper implementation of the law.

In 2016, the UAE enacted similar legislation to deal with corporate insolvencies.

This article was first published in  The National

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Shoura to discuss proposal to raise role of women in judiciary

August 13, 2018

Saudi women lawyers have started defending their clients in courtrooms.

By Fatima Al-Dabees

Okaz/Saudi Gazette

RIYADH – The Shoura Council will vote on a proposal to strengthen women lawyers and legal practitioners after four weeks when it returns to session after the summer recess.

The proposal was tabled by council members Dr. Faisal Al-Fadil, Dr. Latifa Al-Shualan, and Atta Al-Subaiti through the Islamic and Judicial Affairs Committee.

The proposal emphasizes the need to prepare adequate number of women legal practitioners to take up important positions in the judiciary in line with Saudi Vision 2030 that calls for radical measures for women empowerment.

The Public Prosecution, which now comes under the Kingdom’s judicial system, recently appointed some women as junior investigation officers.

The move comes when women in many Arab countries have occupied senior judicial positions, especially in Tunisia, Sudan, Morocco and Algeria, where women have been appointed judges since the 1960s.

“In Jordan the first female judge was named in 1996 while women have entered the judiciary since 2003 in Egypt and since 2006 in Bahrain,” a senior judicial source said.

“In some countries like France, 70 percent of judicial positions are held by women,” he added.

Dr. Suad Saleh, head of comparative jurisprudence at the Faculty of Islamic Studies in Al-Azhar University, said jurisprudence scholars had discussed women’s role in judiciary in the past.

The opinions expressed in this respect could change with time and place, she said. “There is no text in Qur’an or Sunnah that bars women from practicing law,” she said.

“In Islam, men and women are allowed to exchange roles in most matters of life,” she said. The Qur’an says: “The believing men and women are allies of one another. They enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and establish prayer and give Zakat and obey Allah and His messenger.” (Qur’an 9:71)

Dr. Mohammed Tantawi, then Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, issued a religious ruling or fatwa in 2003, saying there is no religious text in Qur’an and Sunnah that bans women from taking up judicial positions.

“Dr. Tahani Al-Jibali was appointed judge at the higher constitutional court in Egypt on the basis of this fatwa,” Saleh told Okaz/Saudi Gazette.

Dr. Nasser Bin Zaid Bin Dawood, a leading Saudi researcher in legal affairs, said the Saudi legal system did not insist that only men should be appointed to judicial positions.

“Saudi Arabia has signed a number of international agreements and charters that prevent discrimination against women in rights and jobs, including the International Declaration of Human Rights and UN Basic Principles on the Independence of Judiciary,” he pointed out.

According to the Saudi law, judges should be Saudi nationals with good character and conduct. They should be qualified to do the job and should have obtained a degree from a Shariah College in the Kingdom. They should also pass a test conducted by the Supreme Judiciary Council.

A judge in the appeals court should be aged at least 40 years. Applicants to other judicial jobs should be at least 22 years old, should not have been convicted of any crime and should not have been terminated from public service as punishment, Dawood said.

This article was first published in  Saudi Gazette

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Saudi Arabian Justice Ministry to fully digitize labor courts

Time: July 31, 2018

JEDDAH: The Saudi Minister of Justice Waleed Al-Samaani has revealed that the ministry plans to launch seven new labor courts in seven cities across Saudi Arabia early next year.
This is expected to highly speed up the legal process and save time for clients as they will all be fully digitized, paperless and follow digital procedures.
Al-Samaani said during his visit yesterday to the legal training center that the ministry works hard to provide judges with personal and professional skills to work in labor courts.
“Those courts will be open for progress and development and will be role models for other courts to follow once proven successful,” said Al-Samaani.
The operation of labor courts early next year will be based on digital transformation, which other courts are currently implementing. The first phase will focus on the launch and operation of labor courts in seven main cities: Riyadh, Makkah, Jeddah, Abha, Dammam, Buraidah and Madinah.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi Arabia joins global pledge to protect disabled rights

Time : July 26, 2018

Tamader bint Youssef Al-Rammah, Deputy labor minister

  • The ministry launched a service expediting online issuing of visas to help people with disabilities seeking work
  • The Sustainable Development Goals are a collection of 17 targets set by the UN in 2015 to end poverty

RIYADH: A Saudi delegation led by Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Development Tamader bint Youssef Al-Rammah took part in a Global Disability Summit in London that pledged to tackle stigma and discrimination against people with disabilities.

“The summit focused on a commitment to a charter for change which includes 10 clauses related to rights of people with disabilities in terms of education, training, employment and inclusion in society as per the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” the Labor Ministry said on Thursday.
The SDGs, or global goals, are a collection of 17 targets set by the UN in 2015 to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity without any bias.


These 17 goals include areas such as climate change, economic inequality, innovation, sustainable consumption, and peace and justice.
Speaking at the summit, Al-Rammah highlighted the importance of a global pledge that will oblige all countries to guarantee full accessibility and empowerment for people with disabilities.
Al-Rammah met with senior British officials, including Minister of State at the Department for International Development Lord Michael Bates, on the sidelines of the summit.
In her talks with the British minister, Al-Rammah stressed Saudi Arabia’s keenness to empower people with disabilities in the workforce as part of Vision 2030.
The ministry recently launched a service expediting online issuing of visas to help people with disabilities seeking work.
Al-Rammah also met Guy Ryder, director-general of the International Labor Organization, who commended the Kingdom’s efforts to empower people with disabilities and its role in supporting social protection.
The UK government’s first Global Disability Summit brought ambitious commitments from a host of governments and organizations to tackle discrimination and stigma against people with disabilities.
Nine governments planned new or revised laws to give people with disabilities greater rights, 18 governments and other organizations promised action plans on disability inclusion, and 33 governments and other organizations pledged to support more people with disabilities affected by humanitarian crises.

This article was first published in  ARAB NEWS

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Saudi Arabia gets ready for labor courts early next year

Time : July 24, 2018

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Justice said its plans for the soon-to-be-launched courts are all on track. (SPA)

JEDDAH: The Kingdom is preparing for labor courts early in 2019.
The Ministry of Justice said its plans for the soon-to-be-launched courts are all on track. Judges are being trained, staff are getting proper induction and court buildings are being prepared and connected digitally.
Saudi Arabia has been working hard to push through initiatives that will organize the labor market and help it reach its highest potential, which will eventually boost investment in the Kingdom and drive the economy toward development and achievement of the Vision 2030 objectives.
According to the latest statistics revealed in Q1 2018; there are around 13 million workers in Saudi Arabia (10 million foreign and 3 million locals). These numbers are expected to increase with the ongoing mega projects across the Kingdom and the increasing demand for the labor force.
Labor court role will be a major drive toward creating ease and efficiency in conducting projects and ensuring those workers are working within a well-defined system that protects them.
“Labor courts will be connected to all government entities that deal with labor. We have already started studying labor dispute cases from the past few years and building our operational plan,” said the ministry.
”We are looking into achieving four objectives: Boosting investment opportunities, achieving excellence, swiftness of the labor judiciary, and benefiting from the rich databases of the courts.”

This article was first published in  ARAB NEWS

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Saudi Arabia prepares to auction detained billionaire’s real estate, cars

Time: July 21, 2018

 Billionaire Maan al-Sanea was detained by authorities in 2017 for unpaid debt dating back to 2009 when his company, Saad Group, defaulted on debts.

Saudi authorities are preparing to auction billions of dollars of real estate and cars belonging to billionaire Maan al-Sanea and his company as they look to hasten an end to one of the kingdom’s longest-running debt disputes.

The planned sale is the latest signal that Saudi Arabia is serious about holding its elites to account.

In an anti-corruption crackdown last November, authorities detained scores of senior officials on charges of alleged graft. Most have been released after being exonerated or agreeing to give the state money, assets or real estate.

The al-Sanea case is separate from the main anti-graft campaign. The businessman – in 2007 he was ranked by Forbes as one of the world’s 100 richest people – was detained by authorities late last year for unpaid debt dating back to 2009 when his company, Saad Group, defaulted on debts.

Creditors have spent the past nine years pursuing Saad, which is based in the city of Khobar in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province, for debt that some estimate to be between 40 billion riyals (S$14.05 billion) and 60 billion riyals.

Investors see the case as a litmus test of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s commitment to reforms.

Etqaan Alliance, the consortium appointed by Saudi authorities to liquidate assets owned by al-Sanea and the company in an effort to repay creditors, plans to begin selling the company’s assets in Saudi Arabia, according to several sources familiar with the matter.

The sales will happen in the coming weeks, the sources said.

The liquidator has produced a slick video that it has posted on YouTube with the tagline “the sale everyone has been waiting for in Khobar” featuring some of the properties and land to be sold.

A brochure accompanying the sale includes a list of 20 plots of land owned by Saad Trading, part of Saad Group, and al-Sanea. The properties are mostly located in Khobar. The largest unit is a 484,407 square metre plot of land that includes buildings and a sewage water treatment plant.

The brochure does not include valuations, but the sources said the real estate was valued at around 4.4 billion riyals, based on an official list of real estate provided to authorities.

A source at the Ministry of Justice confirmed to Reuters an auction would be launched this month to sell vehicles, equipment, a large quantity of building materials and some property before the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan, which starts in May.

According to the sources who have seen the official list provided to authorities, Saad owns an estimated 3.5 bln riyals of real estate, while al-Sanea personally owns an estimated 6.8 bln riyals. Much of that is in Riyadh, Dammam and Khobar.

Reuters was unable to verify whether all of that real estate will be auctioned by Etqaan or the number of vehicles that will be sold.

Saad owns 923 vehicles, including trucks, buses and cars, according to the sources who had seen the list provided to authorities, while al-Sanea has 26 vehicles, including a Rolls Royce, a Hummer, and Cadillac Concord.

The sale does not include the 750-bed Saad Specialist Hospital in Khobar, which the government is in talks with private companies to run, or foreign assets owned by al-Sanea or Saad.

LEGAL BATTLES AROUND THE WORLD

The auction is set to take place a few weeks after the government wound down the anti-corruption crackdown that involved the detention of scores of senior Saudi officials, including princes, in Riyadh’s luxurious Ritz-Carlton Hotel.

The government has said the process raised more than US$100 billion, mostly in the form of land, stakes in businesses and other illiquid assets rather than cash.

The proceeds from Etqaan’s auction will be distributed to creditors via a legal process overseen by a three-judge tribunal set up in 2016 to handle claims against Saad and Ahmad Hamad al-Gosaibi & Bros Co, another big local conglomerate that defaulted on debt in 2009.

Creditors have pursued legal battles over the debt around the world for almost a decade, while the two groups have squabbled over which of them is to blame for the meltdown.

In an effort to stave off the liquidation process, Saad late last year launched its own process to engage with creditors. It hired a financial consultancy, Reemas Group, to offer a proposed settlement covering US$4 bln in debt.

Reemas did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Saad Group has been told by the court that it needs to obtain the agreement of creditors to its plan as soon as possible and then the court will consider the proposal, according to the sources.

In an email sent by Reemas last year, it told creditors its intention was to secure preliminary consent from the majority of lenders to its proposal to put the auction process at a halt.

This article was first published in Straits Times

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Saudi Justice Ministry introduces new e-service

Time: July 16, 2018

JEDDAH: The Saudi justice minister and chairman of the Supreme Judicial Council, Walid Al-Samaani, has directed his ministry to start receiving requests for the implementation of the unified housing lease in the execution courts as an executive bond through the “unified lease contract,” after linking electronically with the Ministry of Housing.
The new lease offers applicants the right to apply directly to the Court of Execution in clear electronic proceedings.
Assistant Undersecretary of the Ministry of Justice for Implementation Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Saleh Al-Suhaiman explained this step will contribute to reducing the flow of cases to the general courts.
Al-Suhaiman said the real estate owners can now apply, through the “unified lease agreement,” which is registered in the electronic rental network, directly to the executive courts and departments, through the ministry’s portal, if the tenant does not pay the value of the rent when due. This step will contribute to reducing the flow of more than 22,000 cases reviewed by the general courts during 1438H and 1439H on leases.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi Arabia: Bankruptcy Law to Take Effect in August

Time: July 12, 2018

Al-Dammam – Ali al-Qattan

The bankruptcy law will come into effect on August 18, said an official in the Saudi Ministry of Commerce and Investment.

The Saudi government had endorsed the first comprehensive law on bankruptcy in February.

Consisting of 231 clauses distributed over 17 chapters, it aims to organize the procedures of bankruptcy.

Majed al-Rasheed, secretary general of the bankruptcy committee at the Ministry of Commerce and Investment, said during a workshop Wednesday that the law will improve Saudi standing in international reports dealing with insolvency.

The Kingdom currently ranks at 168 out of 190 countries.

The bankruptcy law was reviewed by several relevant parties, he added, saying that a final draft was sent to the high commissioner where it is being studied by the specialized authority.

The law, he said, aims to empower loaners, while also preserving the rights of debtors.

Maher Saeed, director of the bankruptcy law project, said that the legislation includes the participation of various government authorities, including the justice and interior ministries.

The law will bolster Saudi national choices that are emphasized in Saudi Vision 2030 and that aim to establish a prosperous economy, facilitate business, help investors overcome financial obstacles and empower debtors.

This article was first published in Asharq Al-Awsat 

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Young man arrested in first case of harassment against women drivers

Time: July 10, 2018 

JEDDAH — Saudi police on Sunday recorded the first incident of harassment against a female driver in the country since the ban on women driving in the Kingdom was lifted under a royal decision on June 24. However, the harasser was pardoned at the behest of the victim.

Samar Khan, dean of the College of Business at Effat University in Jeddah, reported the harasser to the police. Khan complained that a man in his 20s started bothering her and endangering her as she was driving to work on Sunday.

Police identified the man from his car’s plate number and summoned him to the police station. The man complied and arrived at the police station accompanied by his elder brother.

The young confessed and expressed regret for his action. He said he did not realize the amount of danger he was causing to the woman driver.

Khan came to the police station to identify her harasser. The harasser and his brother apologized to the woman.

“I believe I taught the harasser a lesson that he won’t forget. I demanded that he respect women everywhere. I felt sorry when his older brother lowered his head and began crying. His father and mother were also crying. I decided to forgive the harasser to spare his family from the humiliation,” said Khan.

Addressing all women in the country, she said they should not hesitate from fighting for their rights.

“The police were very cooperative with me and they caught him within hours. I don’t have the right to publicize the harasser’s name or his picture,” said Khan.

Lawyer and legal consultant Mohammad Al-Tuwairqi said harassment cases involve a public right and a private right.

“If the victim of the harassment decides to forgive the harasser, the harasser is only absolved of the infringement of private right. But he still has to face the public rights violation. Harassment penalties include imprisonment for no more than two years and a fine that reaches up to SR100,000. The penalty is more severe for repeat offenders,” said Al-Tuwairqi.

This article was first published in Saudi Gazette

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Alimony evaders in Saudi Arabia face up to 7 years in prison as punishment

Time: June 28, 2018

Divorced men who avoid paying alimony and do not follow a court sentence will now risk facing a prison punishment that reaches up to 7 years. The ministry of justice said that alimony verdicts are to be taken seriously. The justice minister, Waleed Al Samaani, instructed all relevant entities to put the prison punishment into action against anyone who obstructs, delays or avoids implementing alimony payment verdicts.

The ministry has activated an e-link service between its different departments and SAMA (Saudi Arabia Monetary Agency) in order to have the capacity to deduct an alimony amount each month from bank accounts belonging to those who are sentenced for alimony payments.

According to clause 1/37 from execution list, the execution court will then do a monthly follow up to ensure payments are done on time. This is a process which is seen as a real upgrade to the old procedure when a divorced man is asked to deposit the alimony amount himself for his ex-wife and children each month, which caused a number of delays and issues.

This new procedure is part of the ministry’s move towards protecting women and children and help them know their legal rights . It also aims to limit the abuse towards them by men who refuse to provide financial support to their ex-wives and children.

Recently, Saudi courts issued a number of sentences ordering ex-husbands to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to ex-wives and kids to cover years of expenses that were neglected by those husbands after divorce. The plan to launch an alimony fund was also announced  which ultimately seeks to financially protect women and children.

This article was first published in Al Arabiya English  

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