Article 1 : Courts shall apply to cases before them provisions of Shari'ah laws, in accordance with the Qur'an and Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him), and laws promulgated by the State that do not conflict with the Qur'an and Sunnah, and their proceedings shall comply with the provisions of this Law.
Article 2 : The provisions of this Law shall apply to cases brought before them that have not been adjudged and proceedings that have not been completed prior to the effective date hereof, except the following:
Article 3 : Any procedure in a proceeding validly applied under laws in force shall remain valid unless otherwise provided for hereunder.
Article 4 : No claim or defense shall be accepted in which its proponent has no existing legitimate interest. Nevertheless, potential interest shall be sufficient if the claim is intended as a precaution to avoid imminent damage or to document a right the evidence for which might disappear by the time it is contested. The judge shall reject a case he deems fictitious, and he may punish the plaintiff.
Article 5 : A case filed by at least three citizens in any matter involving public interest shall be accepted if there is no official agency in charge of that interest in the town.
Article 6: An action shall be invalid if declared null and void by a provision hereunder or is so flawed that the purpose thereof is not served. However, it shall not be adjudged invalid, notwithstanding such a provision, if it is proven that the purpose of the action is definitely achieved.
Article 7: A clerk shall attend all hearings and all case proceedings along with the judge, and shall keep a record and sign it together with the judge. If the clerk fails to attend, the judge may assume the procedure and take the minutes.
Article 8 : Process servers, clerks, and such other judicial assistants may not perform any work that lies within the scope of their jobs in cases involving them or their spouses, relatives, and in-laws up to the fourth degree, and any such work shall be null and void.
Article 9 : Periods and time limits set forth herein shall be calculated according to Umm al-Qura calendar, and sunset of each day shall be considered the end of that day.
Article 10 : In the application of the provisions hereof "place of residence" shall mean the place where a person normally resides. For nomads, the place of residence shall be deemed the place where a person lived when the case was filed. For detainees and prisoners, the place of residence shall be deemed the place where a person is detained or imprisoned. Any person may designate a particular place of residence for receiving the notices and service of process addressed to him regarding specific matters or transactions, in addition to his general place of residence.
Article 11 : No case properly filed with a competent court may be transferred to another court or agency before judgment is rendered.
Article 12 : Processes shall be served by servers at the judge's order or at the request of the adversary or the court administration. Adversaries or their attorneys-in-fact shall follow up the procedures and give the relevant papers to servers for service. Service may be done by the plaintiff at his request.
Article 13 : No process may be served or judgment executed in the place of residence before sunrise or after sunset or during official holidays, except in compelling circumstances and with the written permission of the judge.
Article 14 : A service of process must be in duplicate, an original and an identical copy. There shall be as many copies as there are persons if several persons are served.
The process must contain the following:
Article 15 : The server shall deliver a copy of the process to the person to be served at his place of residence or work if available; otherwise, he shall deliver it to whoever of his family members, relatives, and in-laws residing with him is present, or to whoever works in his service that is present.
If none of them is present or the one present refuses acceptance, the copy shall be delivered, according to the circumstance, to the Umdah of the quarter, the police station, to the head of the 'center', or the chief of the tribe within whose jurisdiction lies the place of residence of the person to be served, in that order.
The process server shall indicate same in detail at that time on the original of the process. Within twenty-four hours of the delivery of a copy to the administrative agency the server shall send a letter - registered with acknowledgement of receipt - to the person to be served at his place of residence or work notifying him that a copy had been delivered to the administrative agency.
Article 16 : Police stations and quarter Umdahs (Chiefs) shall, within the limits of their jurisdiction, assist the court server in the performance of his task.
Article 17 : A process shall be legal if served on the person of the one to be served, even if at other than his place of residence or work.
Article 18 : Process copies shall be delivered as follows:
Article 19 : In all the cases set forth in the preceding article, if the person to be served or the one acting for him refuses to receive the copy or sign the original acknowledging receipt, the server shall so indicate on the original and the copy, and deliver the copy to the amirate within whose jurisdiction lies the place of residence of the person to be served, or to the agency designated by the amirate.
Article 20 : If the place of residence of the person to be served is in a foreign country, a copy of the process shall be sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for communication by diplomatic means. A reply stating that the copy has reached the person to be served shall be sufficient.
Article 21 : If the in-Kingdom place of service lies outside the court's jurisdiction, the papers to be served shall be sent by the Chief judge or the Judge of such court to the Chief Judge or the Judge of the court within whose jurisdiction the service lies.
Article 22 : Sixty days shall be added to the statutory time limits for persons whose place of residence is outside the Kingdom.
Article 23 : A time limit defined in days, months, or years, shall not include the notice day or the day on which the event which by law initiated the time limit occurred. The time limit expires at the end of the last day if the action is to take place within that time limit. If the time limit is one that must expire before the action, then the action may take place only after expiry of the last day of the time limit. If a time limit is defined in hours, its starting hour and its hour of expiry shall be calculated as aforesaid. If the time limit expires on an official holiday, it shall extend into the first working day thereafter.
Chapter I: International Jurisdiction
Article 24 : The Kingdom's courts shall have jurisdiction over cases filed against a Saudi, even if there is no record of his general or designated place of residence in the Kingdom. Excepted are cases in rem involving real estate located outside the Kingdom.
Article 25 : The Kingdom's courts shall have jurisdiction over cases filed against an alien who has a general or a designated place of residence in the Kingdom. Excepted are cases in rem involving real estate outside the Kingdom.
Article 26 : The Kingdom's courts shall have jurisdiction over cases filed against an alien who has no general or designated place of residence in the Kingdom in the following circumstances:
Article 27 : The Kingdom's courts shall have jurisdiction over cases filed against an alien Muslim who has no general or designated place of residence in the Kingdom in the following circumstances:
Article 28 : Except for cases in rem involving real estate outside the Kingdom, the Kingdom's courts shall have jurisdiction to adjudicate cases when the litigants accept these courts' jurisdiction, even if the matter does not fall within their jurisdiction.
Article 29 : The Kingdom's courts shall have jurisdiction over preventive and temporary measures enforced in the Kingdom, even though they had no jurisdiction over the original case.
Article 30 : A corollary of the jurisdiction of the Kingdom's courts shall be jurisdiction over consideration of preliminary issues and requests incidental to the original case as well as consideration of any request which relates to such a case and is required by the proper process of justice.
Chapter II: Subject-Matter Jurisdiction
Article 31 : Without prejudice to the provisions of the Grievance Board Law and to the general courts' jurisdiction to consider real estate cases, Summary Courts shall have jurisdiction to adjudicate the following cases:
• Lawsuits for restraining interference with possession or for recovery of possession.
• Lawsuits where the value does not exceed ten thousand riyals. The Implementation Regulations shall prescribe how to estimate value of the claim.
• Lawsuits involving leases where the rent does not exceed one thousand riyals a month, provided that the claim does not exceed ten thousand riyals.
• Lawsuits involving labor contracts where the salary or wage does not exceed one thousand riyals a month, provided that the claim does not exceed ten thousand riyals.
The sums stipulated under Paragraphs (b), (c), and (d) of this article may be amended as required by a decision of the full membership of the Supreme Judicial Council on the recommendation of the Minister of Justice.
Article 32 : Without prejudice to the provisions of the Grievance Board Law, General Courts shall have jurisdiction over all cases outside the jurisdiction of Summary Courts. Specifically, they may consider the following:
• All cases in rem dealing with real estate.
• Issuing title deeds, registration of endowment and hearing the declaration thereof, and recording marriages, probate, divorce, khul' divorce at the insistence of the wife, paternity, death and determination of heirs.
• Designating trustees, guardians, and administrators and permitting them to perform actions that require the judge's permission, and dismissing them if required.
• Imposing and waiving support.
• Marrying off women who have no guardians.
• Interdicting spendthrifts and bankrupts.
Article 33 : General Courts shall have jurisdiction over all claims and cases under the jurisdiction of Summary Court in towns where no Summary Court exists.
Chapter III: Venue
Article 34 : A lawsuit shall be filed with the court with jurisdiction over defendant's place of residence. If he has no place of residence in the Kingdom, jurisdiction belongs to the court with jurisdiction over plaintiff's place of residence. If there are several defendants, jurisdiction belongs to the court with jurisdiction over the place of residence of the majority. In case of equal numbers, plaintiff shall have the option of filing the case with any court with jurisdiction over the place of residence of any of them.
Article 35 : Subject to the established jurisdiction provisions of the Grievance Board, cases against government administrative agencies shall be filed with the court with jurisdiction over the head office thereof. A lawsuit may be filed with the court with jurisdiction over the branch of a government agency in matters relating to that branch.
Article 36 : Lawsuits relating to existing companies and societies or those under liquidation, or to private establishments, shall be filed with the court with jurisdiction over the head office thereof irrespective of whether the case is against the company, society, or establishment, or by the company, society, or establishment against a partner or a member, or by a partner or member against another. A lawsuit may be filed with the court with jurisdiction over the branch of a company, society, or establishment in matters relating to that branch.
Article 37 : As an exception to Article 34, a claimant of support shall have the option of filing his lawsuit with the court with jurisdiction over the place of residence of either claimant or defendant.
Article 38 : A city or village shall be considered the scope of the venue of the court existing there. If there are several courts, the Minister of Justice shall define the venue of each pursuant to a suggestion from the Supreme Judicial Council. Villages that have no court shall fall within the jurisdiction of the court of the nearest town. Whenever there is a dispute affirming or denying venue, the case shall be referred to the Appellate Court for deciding the subject of the dispute.
FILING AND RECORDING LAWSUITS
Article 39 : A lawsuit shall be filed by the plaintiff with a court by means of a claim memorandum to be deposited with the court in original and as many copies as there are defendants. Such claim memorandum shall contain the following:
Article 40 : The date for appearance before a General Court shall be not less than eight days after service of the claim memorandum. This time limit may be reduced to twenty-four hours in compelling circumstances. The time limit for appearance before Summary Courts shall be three days. This time limit may be reduced to one hour in compelling circumstances, provided that the process is served to the adversary in person in both cases of time reduction. The reduction of the time limit in both cases shall be with the permission of the judge or the chief judge of the court with which the case is filed.
Article 41 : In all but summary cases where the time limit for appearance has been reduced, defendant shall deposit with the court his defense memorandum not less than three days before the hearing at General Courts, and not less than one day before the hearing at Summary Courts.
Article 42 : The competent clerk shall place the case in the docket on the day the claim memorandum is submitted, after recording the day scheduled for the hearing on the original and copies of the declaration in the presence of the plaintiff or his representative. He shall on the day immediately following deliver the declaration and the copies thereof to the process server or plaintiff, as the case may be, for serving and returning the original to the court administration.
Article 43 : The process server or plaintiff, as the case may be, shall serve the claim memorandum to defendant in sufficient time before the date of the hearing to allow for the time limit set for appearance.
Article 44 : Failure to honor the time limit set forth in the preceding article, or failure to honor the time limit for appearance, shall not invalidate the claim memorandum and shall not prejudice the right of the one served to postponement for completion of the time limit.
Article 45 : If plaintiff and defendant appear of their own accord before a court and request a hearing of their dispute, the court shall, if possible, immediately hear the case or schedule another hearing therefor, even if the case is outside its venue.
Article 46 : If a court schedules a hearing for two litigants but they appear at other than the scheduled time and request consideration of their dispute, the court shall, if possible, accede to that request.
APPEARANCE AND ABSENCE OF LITIGANTS
Chapter I: Appearance and Representation in Litigation
Article 47 : On the day scheduled for consideration of the case the litigants shall appear in person or through representatives. If the representative is an attorney-in-fact he shall be the one qualified to accept a power of attorney according to law.
Article 48 : An attorney-in-fact shall declare his appearance on behalf of his client and shall deposit the document of his power of attorney with the competent clerk. The court, when necessary, may allow the deposit of the document by the attorney-in-fact within a time limit prescribed by the court, provided that it is not later than the first hearing of the proceedings. The power of attorney may be recorded in the hearing by a declaration to be entered in the record and signed or thumb printed by the client.
Article 49 : Whatever the attorney-in-fact declares in the presence of the client shall in effect be a declaration by the client himself unless the client denies it in the same hearing during consideration of the case. If the client does not appear, the attorney-in-fact may not concede the right claimed, make a waiver or accept a settlement, accept, direct, or reject an oath, drop the litigation, waive judgment in whole or in part or any method of appeal, lift an interdiction, release a mortgage while leaving the debt [unpaid], or claim forgery unless he is specifically authorized to do so in the power of attorney.
Article 50 : Resignation or dismissal of an attorney-in-fact without the court's approval shall not preclude continuation of the proceedings unless the client notifies his adversary of the appointment of a substitute for the resigning or dismissed attorney-in-fact, or of his intention to handle the case in person.
Article 51 : If it becomes apparent to the court that an attorney-in-fact has been dilatory under the pretext of the need to consult his client but intending to procrastinate, the court shall have the right to request the client himself to complete the proceeding.
Article 52 : No judge, public prosecutor, or court employee may be the attorney-in-fact for a litigant in a case, even if filed with a court other than their own. They are allowed to do so, however, on behalf of their spouses, ascendants and descendants, and persons legally under their guardianship.
Chapter II: Absence of Litigant(s)
Article 53 : If the plaintiff is absent from a court hearing without an excuse acceptable to the court, the case shall be stricken off. Afterward, he may, depending on the circumstances, request continued consideration of the case, in which case the court shall schedule a hearing for such consideration and notify defendant. If plaintiff is again absent without an excuse acceptable to the court, the case shall be stricken off and it may be heard again only by a decision of the permanent panel of the Supreme Judicial Council.
Article 54 : In both situations set forth under the preceding article, if the defendant attends the hearing from which the plaintiff is absent, the defendant may ask the court not to strike off the case and to adjudge on the merits thereof if the case is ripe for judgment, in which instance the court shall adjudge the case and the judgment shall be considered a default [judgment] with respect to plaintiff.
Article 55 : If the defendant is absent from the first hearing, consideration of the case shall be postponed to a subsequent hearing of which the defendant shall be notified. If he is absent from this hearing or from another hearing without an excuse acceptable to the court, the court shall adjudge the case and its judgment shall be considered a default [judgment] with respect to the defendant, unless defendant's absence was after the closing of argument, in which case the judgment shall be considered in his presence.
Article 56 : If there are several defendants some of whom were served in person while the others were not, and all of them or only those who were not served in person were absent, the court, in other than summary cases, shall postpone consideration of the case to a subsequent hearing and plaintiff shall serve notice of that hearing to those absent who were not served in person. The decision in the case shall be considered in the presence of all defendants.
Article 57 : In the application of the preceding provisions, a person who arrives thirty minutes before the scheduled time for the end of the hearing shall not be considered absent, and he shall be considered present if he arrives while the hearing is still in progress.
Article 58 : A person against whom a default judgment has been rendered may, within the deadline specified herein, object to the judgment before the court that rendered the judgment. He may ask the court to expeditiously issue a temporary stay of the execution of the judgment. A default judgment shall be stayed if the court issues a judgment to stay it, or if it issues a judgment that is contrary to the default judgment and supercedes it.
HEARING PROCEDURE AND ORDER
Chapter I: Hearing Procedure
Article 59 : The record clerk shall each day prepare a list of the cases for that day arranged in the order of the hours scheduled for their consideration. After presentation to the judge, a copy of the list shall be posted before working hours on the bulletin board set up for this purpose at the door of the courtroom.
Article 60 : The litigants shall be called at the time scheduled for considering their cases.
Article 61 : Proceedings shall be in open court unless the judge on his own or at the request of an litigant closes the hearing in order to maintain order, observe public morality, or for the privacy of the family.
Article 62 : Argument shall be oral. This, however, shall not preclude the presentation of statements or defenses in the form of written briefs copies of which shall be exchanged between the litigants and the original shall be kept in the case-file which shall be referenced in the minutes. The court shall grant the litigants sufficient time to review and respond to the documents as circumstances warrant.
Article 63 : The judge shall ask the plaintiff with regard to whatever is required to plead his case prior to questioning the defendant. He may not dismiss the case to correct a pleading, nor may he proceed with the case, prior to that.
Article 64 : If the defendant categorically refuses to answer or gives answers that are not relevant to the case, the judge shall repeat the request for a correct answer three times in the same hearing. If the defendant persists, the judge shall warn him and then consider him to have declined, and shall proceed with the case in accordance with the Shari'ah rules.
Article 65 : If either party presents a valid defense and requests a reply from the other party who asks for time for that purpose, the judge may grant him time if he deems it necessary, but time may not be granted again for the same answer except for a legitimate reason acceptable to the judge.
Article 66 : Proceedings shall close upon the litigants concluding their arguments. Nevertheless, the court may, before announcing its judgment, and for proper cause, reopen argument on its own or at the request of a litigant and docket the lawsuit again.
Article 67 : Litigants may, in whatever form the case may be, ask the court to enter whatever acknowledgement, settlement, or suchlike agreed between them in the court record and the court shall issue a deed to that effect.
Article 68 : The record clerk shall, under the supervision of the judge, enter the minutes of the argument in the record, stating the date and hour each argument began and the hour it ended, the name of the judge and the names of the litigants or their attorneys-in-fact. The judge, the clerk, and those persons whose names are mentioned therein shall sign the record. If one of them declines to sign the judge shall so indicate in the record of the hearing.
Chapter II: Hearing Order
Article 69 : Order and management of the hearing are assigned to the Presiding Judge. In pursuance of this he may expel from the courtroom anyone who disturbs order. If he disobeys, the court may forthwith sentence him to prison for up to twenty-four hours. Such a judgment shall be final but the court may reverse that judgment.
Article 70 : The Presiding Judge is the person who addresses questions to the litigants and witnesses. Other court members participating in the hearing and the litigants may ask him to address whatever questions relating to the case they wish to ask.
DEFENSES, JOINDER, INTERVENTION, AND INCIDENTAL REQUESTS
Chapter I: Defenses
Article 71 : Motions for the invalidity of the claim memorandum, for improper venue, or for transferring the case to another court, because the same dispute or some other related case is before that court, shall be made before any request or defense is made in the case; otherwise, any right not so presented shall be forfeited.
Article 72 : A motion for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction or for dismissal of the case for lack of capacity or interest, or for any other reason, or for dismissal of the case shall be ruled on by the court itself, and such motions shall be admissible at any stage of the case.
Article 73 : The court shall rule independently on such motions unless it decides to include them with the subject matter of the case in which instance it shall indicate its ruling on both the motions and the merits.
Article 74 : If a court rules that it lacks jurisdiction, it shall refer the case to the competent court and notify the litigants accordingly.
Chapter II: Joinder and Intervention
Article 75 : A litigant may ask the court to join in the case whoever would rightfully have been a litigant when the case was filed. The normal summons procedure shall be followed in making him a litigant. The court shall, whenever possible, rule on the matter of the request for the joinder and on the original case in the same judgment whenever possible, otherwise it shall rule on the matter of the request for joinder after adjudging the original case.
Article 76 : The court on its own may order the joinder of whoever it feels should be joined in the following circumstances:
• A person who is linked to an adversary by the bonds of partnership, right, or indivisible obligation.
• An heir of the plaintiff or defendant or an owner in common with either of them if the case involves an estate in the first instance or a common ownership in the second.
• A person who may be harmed by the case or by a judgment thereon if the court finds serious evidence of collusion, fraud, or failure on the part of the litigants.
The court shall set a time for the appearance of whoever it orders joined, and the normal summons procedure shall be followed.
Article 77 : Any person having an interest may intervene in the case by joining a litigant or requesting a judgment for himself on a matter related to the case. Intervention shall be by a memorandum notified to the litigants before the day of the hearing or by a request made orally in the hearing in their presence and recorded in the minutes. No intervention may be permitted after the closing of proceedings.
Chapter III: Incidental Requests
Article 78 : Incidental requests shall be filed by the plaintiff or the defendant by means of a memorandum delivered to the litigants before the day of the hearing or by a request made orally in the hearing in the presence of the adversary and recorded in the minutes. No incidental request may be permitted after the closing of the proceedings.
Article 79 : The plaintiff may make the following incidental requests:
• Matters that involve correcting the original request or amending its subject matter to meet exigencies that arose or became known after the lawsuit was filed.
• Matters complementing, arising from, or which are indivisibly linked to the original request.
• Matters involving an addition or a change to the grounds for the case, leaving the original subject matter of the case unchanged.
• Requesting an order for preventive or temporary action.
• Whatever the court permits relating to the original request.
Article 80 : The defendant may make the following requests:
• Request for judicial set off.
• Request for a judgment for compensation for damages sustained stemming from the original case or from an action therein.
• Any request which, if accepted, results in not rendering judgment on all or some of the requests of the plaintiff, or rendering a judgment with qualifications advantageous to the defendant.
• Any request indivisibly linked to the original case.
• Whatever the court permits relating to the original case.
Article 81 : Whenever possible the court shall rule on an incidental request along with the original case; otherwise, it shall retain the incidental request for a ruling after verification.