Arbitrating in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Arbitration in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been subject to material reform in recent years which has had a positive effect in the realm of dispute resolution. The new arbitration law, enacted by Royal Decree No. M/34 published in the Official Gazette on 8 June 2012 (the “New Arbitration Law”) has facilitated the Kingdom in adopting international norms and practices when promulgating new laws. This New Arbitration Law is broadly modelled on the UNCITRAL Model Law and replaces the previous Arbitration Law issued by Royal Decree No. M/46 on April 25, 1983 and supplemented by an Executive Regulation dated June 22 1987.

The New Arbitration Law has paved the way for the adoption of ‘arbitration friendly’ provisions that facilitate the resolution of disputes in the Kingdom and complement the recent arbitral progress. For example, the UNCITRAL-based New Arbitration Law led to the enactment, in 2013, of a new enforcement law (the “Enforcement Law”).

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ECHR reaffirms State immunity from civil proceedings for acts of torture in Jones v United Kingdom

In the recent case of Jones and others v United Kingdom, the European Court of Human Rights (the Court) found that the United Kingdom had not breached Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the right of access to a court) by granting immunity from jurisdiction to Saudi Arabia and its officials in respect of civil claims brought against them for alleged acts of torture. The Court held that the generally recognised rules of public international law did not contain an exception to State immunity in respect of civil claims concerning alleged acts of torture. It also found that such immunity of a State also protects individual employees and officers in respect of acts undertaken on behalf of the State.

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