Sustainable energy solutions at the heart of G20 efforts to safeguard our planet: Saudi Energy Minister 

Sustainable energy solutions at the heart of G20 efforts to safeguard our planet: Saudi Energy Minister 
Saudi Arabia’s energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman stressed the Kingdom’s commitment to the Circular Carbon Economy (CCE) platform and its 'Four Rs’ framework: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Remove. (Screenshot: G20)
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Updated 18 November 2020

Sustainable energy solutions at the heart of G20 efforts to safeguard our planet: Saudi Energy Minister 

Sustainable energy solutions at the heart of G20 efforts to safeguard our planet: Saudi Energy Minister 
  • Prince Abdulaziz said that while the Kingdom will be creating more demand for hydrocarbon, it is also committed to being eco-friendly

RIYADH: In a G20 meeting in Riyadh on Wednesday, Saudi Minister of Energy Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said that sustainable energy solutions have been at the heart of the group’s efforts throughout Saudi Arabia’s presidency this year.

“We have not lost sight of a sustainable future. We are committed and working on it,” he said in the “Safeguarding our planet through more-sustainable energy systems” meeting.

The energy minister stressed the Kingdom’s commitment to the Circular Carbon Economy (CCE) platform and its 'Four Rs’ framework: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Remove. He also recognized the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“This is a concept all countries can gather around. What is important is the limiting of emissions. We have to be environmentally friendly,” he said.

Prince Abdulaziz said that while the Kingdom will be creating more demand for hydrocarbon, it is also committed to being eco-friendly. “We are also working on the solar energy program in the Kingdom,” he said.

Earlier in the day, G20 energy ministers agreed to help advance the development, deployment, and dissemination of relevant technologies and innovations related to the CCE platform, highlighting the international community’s interest in innovative all-inclusive approaches that can tackle climate change and environmental challenges while stimulating economies and industries around the world, according to a statement.

During its G20 Presidency, the prince said Saudi Arabia has played a leading role in advancing strategic plans to tackle climate change, one of the most serious issues the world faces today. The Kingdom, he said, “seeks to find a solution through innovation and collaboration with G20 members to create a sustainable framework for growth during and after the (COVID-19) pandemic.”

He noted that Saudi Arabia is “leading by example,” saying it has ensured that its major projects have “a comprehensive and integral approach to preserve the environment and foster development.”

On challenges facing the oil market amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Saudi energy minister said: “We are not facing it alone, the challenges are there for all of us. The G20 is working collaboratively to mitigate the challenges.”

He agreed that the pandemic has had a huge impact on the oil market, with countries reducing their imports due to less domestic consumption. “It is our duty to work with  OPEC and bring stability to the oil market,” he said. “We are engaged proactively and in a parallel way to ensure stability.”


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.”