Saudi reforms ‘tremendous,’ says French senator

Saudi reforms ‘tremendous,’ says French senator
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French Senator Nathalie Goulet. (Photo/Supplied)
Saudi reforms ‘tremendous,’ says French senator
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French Senator Nathalie Goulet. (Photo/Supplied)
Saudi reforms ‘tremendous,’ says French senator
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French Senator Nathalie Goulet meets Lisa Allpress, the first female jockey to win a race at the opening leg of the International Jockeys Challenge on Friday at King Abdul Aziz Racetrack in Riyadh. (Photo/Supplied)
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Updated 29 February 2020

Saudi reforms ‘tremendous,’ says French senator

Saudi reforms ‘tremendous,’ says French senator
  • ‘But Saudi Arabia will not be Switzerland overnight’

RIYADH: While some fail to recognize the leap Saudi Arabia is taking in modernizing and opening up to the world, one member of the Senate of France considers the changes and reforms in the Kingdom to be “tremendous.”

Nathalie Goulet, representing the Orne department in Normandy, told Arab News: “The problem that we face is that a lot of people are not believing in the changes in Saudi Arabia. Of course, it will not be Switzerland overnight.”
Goulet was heading a delegation from the French Senate to the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology (Etidal) in Riyadh on Feb. 23, where they discussed strategies to combat extremist rhetoric around the world.
“It is a tool, a very interesting and useful tool to track terrorism. Etidal has to be presented to the G20. It could be an international tool to track hate speech and extremism,” she said.
Goulet previously met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Paris before his appointment as the country’s crown prince in June 2016, and said that he was “very impressive and determined.”
She talked to the crown prince about dire issues, such as women’s rights and activists and, to her surprise, he addressed all her questions “very forthrightly.”
She said that he shared his ambitious Vision 2030 plan with her at the time, and that he had now “delivered on the things he was planning to do.”

HIGHLIGHT

Goulet was heading a delegation from the French Senate to the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology (Etidal) in Riyadh on Feb. 23, where they discussed strategies to combat extremist rhetoric around the world.

Goulet also spoke about the dangers of global terrorism, singling out Qatar for backing the Muslim Brotherhood group. “Qatar … has to stop funding the Muslim Brotherhood and France must ban them,” she said, adding that another issue was that some groups misuse the zakat, an Islamic tax and religious obligation, to fund their activities.
“The problem is not with zakat, but with how people use the money for bad purposes,” she said, adding that a mosque in France last year received up to 1 million euros in cash during the month of Ramadan. “We (France) let people from the Muslim Brotherhood collect the money for a madrasa (school) in Mauritania.”
That school was closed by Mauritania, but France allowed the zakat to go through it as a portal to unknowingly fund terrorist activities. “On one hand we send soldiers to fight terrorism in West Africa, on the other hand, we let people collect money for bad purposes. It’s schizophrenic,” said Goulet.
She added that her country was working hard to put an end to such issues.
Goulet, who has been working on several areas related to terrorism and money laundering in the French Parliament, praised Saudi Arabia’s stance on terrorism and its efforts to curb it.
She referred to the Mohammed bin Naif Counseling and Care Center as a model for rehabilitating previous terrorists.
While the misconceptions spreading about Saudi Arabia will not hinder the country’s progress, it is still an issue, she added. “When you come in with an agenda, it’s a serious issue for the country and for all the region. We have to come here without prejudgments,” Goulet said.


Overdue business rents waived by Saudi court

Overdue business rents waived by Saudi court
If a contract obliges one of the parties to carry out a task, which cannot be completed on time due to the pandemic, the court can temporarily suspend the implementation of the obligation. (SPA)
Updated 19 January 2021

Overdue business rents waived by Saudi court

Overdue business rents waived by Saudi court
  • The new regulations cover construction contracts, supply contracts, and the like, which have been affected by the pandemic

RIYADH: The General Assembly of the Saudi Supreme Court has ordered the waiving of overdue rents on businesses hit by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, and called for a review of such contracts between tenants and owners.

The steps have been taken in view of the circumstances caused by the pandemic, wherein an obligation or contract cannot be implemented without unusual losses.

The president of the Supreme Court, Khalid bin Abdullah bin Muhammad Al-Luhaidan, approved the decisions backed by 32 members of the assembly, Okaz newspaper reported.

Authorities have set conditions that have to be met before a case can be considered for review under the new regulations.

If a contract was concluded before the commencement of the preventive measures announced in the wake of the pandemic, then the impact was direct and unavoidable. If in such a case, an affected party was not compensated or did not reach a deal to mitigate the impact of the health crisis, then it qualifies for a review and the new regulations will then take effect, said legal sources.

The Supreme Court said a competent court will issue its verdict based on facts and circumstantial evidence, and may order amendments to a contract.

It also said the new provisions will be applicable to tenancy contracts and movable properties affected by the pandemic.

It clarified that if, due to the pandemic, a tenant was unable to use the leased property, in whole or in part, the court would reduce the rent as much as the usually intended benefit was reduced.

A lessor, meanwhile, does not have the right to terminate the contract if a tenant is late in paying rent for the period during which it was impossible to fully or partly use the property due to the pandemic.

HIGHLIGHT

The Supreme Court said a competent court will issue its verdict based on facts and circumstantial evidence, and may order amendments to a contract.

The new regulations also cover construction contracts, supply contracts, and the like, which have been affected by the pandemic.

If the pandemic causes an increase to the cost of materials and labor wages, etc., the court shall increase the value of the contract while ensuring the obligor can afford to bear the expense. The obligee, upon increasing the obligation, has the right to request the termination of the contract. If the increase in the cost of materials is temporary, the court reserves the right to temporarily suspend the contract.

If the pandemic causes a shortage of material in the market, the court can reduce the quantity to the extent it deems sufficient to protect the obligor from harm.

Moreover, if the shortage of materials is temporary, the court can temporarily suspend the contract if the person obligated to it is not severely affected by this suspension. If he is harmed, he may request termination of the contract. If the materials were not available at all, leading to the impossibility of implementing the contractual obligations or some of them, the court will terminate the clauses that are impossible to implement upon the request of one of the parties to the contract.

If a contract obliges one of the parties to carry out a task, which cannot be completed on time due to the pandemic, the court can temporarily suspend the implementation of the obligation. If the other party fears unusual damage due to the suspension, he may request termination of the contract.

In addition, the court also stressed the need to carefully assess the damages on a case-to-case basis, and that one or more experts should do the assessment. While assessing damages, it should be made clear what losses were incurred directly due to the pandemic and had nothing do to with seasonal upswing in certain activities.

The Supreme Court explained that a court is bound, when considering cases arising from contracts and obligations affected by the pandemic, not to apply penalty clause or fines in whole or in part — depending on the case.

In the event that a contract includes a clause of exemption from liability for one of the contracting parties when an emergency or force majeure occurs, the condition has no effect, and the party that breaches the obligation must provide evidence that the pandemic was the reason for the breach.

The affected contracts that are not covered by the provisions of this principle shall be subject to the legal and statutory litigation principles, said the court.

Commenting on the decision, Talal Albotty, the regional director of the Central Region, Salama Insurance Co., said there is a type of insurance called “suspension of operations” because of continuous epidemics, and falls under property insurance.

“This type of insurance can be found in European countries and some Asian countries but it is not applicable in Saudi Arabia,” he told Arab News. “The insurance against projects does not exist because when the project stops, insurance stops.”

Regarding the rise in prices of commodities, or the increase in prices because of pandemics and suspension of imports, a condition must be added stating that the value of property or project must increase by 10-25 percent, he added.

“Now most reinsurance companies around the world stopped offering insurance related to pandemics and contagious diseases in most countries, including COVID-19, because their impact was huge and the companies sustained huge losses,” he said.

Saudi lawyer Reem Alajmi said the resolution aims to treat and remedy the losses incurred by parties to the contract in terms of obligations.

“The parties could not fulfil their obligations because of a lack of sufficient resources or suspension of working hours during the pandemic. Fulfilling the obligation fully or partially was difficult because COVID-19 pandemic was a force majeure,” she told Arab News.

According to Alajmi, the effects or damage caused by the pandemic must not be covered by other laws. “Proving the occurrence of damage is the responsibility of the plaintiff and the defendant based on evidence submitted to the court,” she added. “The contracts and obligations are amended accordingly.”