How Saudi Arabia has speeded up civil justice
Anyone who files a lawsuit obviously expects that any resulting judgment will be applied in practice; legal action can be difficult and demanding, so plaintiffs are entitled to know that enforcement of the verdict will be fast, effective and accurate.
To this end, the Saudi Ministry of Justice has made a range of services available to all the parties in civil proceedings, which are of importance to all members of society.
The activities of the enforcement judiciary, whether to execute judgments, arbitration rulings or bonds according to Saudi law, are governed by specific formulas approved by the law.
The Ministry of Justice has launched 15 services that serve the applicant and the respondent — a debtor, for example — as well as an applicant by proxy, such as a lawyer. These services accelerate and digitize the proceedings, thus saving time, effort and money, and avoiding unnecessary visits to court. They also relieve pressure on the courts and ensure that cases are completed efficiently and accurately.
The 10 new services for applicants and their legal representatives may be accessed and implemented through the ministry’s Najiz online portal, which was launched in April and covers all 177 first-instance courts in the Kingdom. The services include submitting a request under Article 34, which informs a debtor of an enforcement order; or a request under Article 46, which suspends citizen services and imposes travel bans. The applicant may also ask for an Article 46 order to be reissued when it has expired, request a sentence of imprisonment, or request an invoice for the notification of an enforcement order.
These services also cover family issues, including requests for a visit order, a custody order or an alimony deduction order. Applicants may also ask for an order to sell assets by auction, or for an eviction order.
The law is also keen to provide services for respondents in a legal action, including debtors. Five services allow them to ask for orders under Article 34 and 46 to be rescinded, to issue a payment bill, and to transfer a reserved amount of money.
These rapid and unique developments will help to ensure that the enforcement of civil justice in the Kingdom is easier, faster and more practical, and will enhance Saudi Arabia’s judicial reputation for the effective implementation of judgments and enforcement of rights. Many other countries are looking at the Saudi system for inspiration in how to improve their own legal enforcement procedures.
Finally, a debt of gratitude is owed in particular to the female sections in the enforcement courts for their role in helping women to implement judicial orders and obtain their rightful dues.
Dimah Talal Alsharif is a Saudi legal consultant, head of the health law department at the law firm of Majed Garoub and a member of the International Association of Lawyers. Twitter: @dimah_alsharif