2007 News Story

Saudi judicial system reorganized

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz issued a royal decree yesterday approving an overhaul of Saudi Arabia’s judiciary system, the Arab News reported today. Changes include the establishment of a Supreme Court and labor and commercial tribunals. 

The new Judiciary and Court of Grievances Laws provide for the formation of special commercial, labor and administrative courts. The Court of Grievances will operate as an independent body and will report directly to the King.

Both laws stress the authority of judges to make independent decisions without outside influence and within the framework of Islamic law.

With the new system, the Supreme Court assumes authority over judicial affairs. It will supervise the implementation of Islamic law (Shari’ah) and laws enacted by the King, and review rulings issued or upheld by appeals courts in cases of murder and other serious offenses.

The Supreme Court will take over the functions of the Supreme Judiciary Council, which previously served as the Kingdom’s highest tribunal. The Supreme Judiciary Council will continue to oversee administrative aspects of the judiciary, including the choice of judges, overseeing judges’ personnel affairs and establishing tribunals.

Under the new laws, disputes over family and personal matters such as divorce will be settled in their own courts. Commercial courts will oversee disputes that had previously been addressed by special Ministry of Commerce and Industry committees, and labor courts will take over labor matters previously handled by Ministry of Labor offices.

The Court of Grievances will continue to handle administrative disputes involving government departments, but criminal offenses involving these departments, such as bribery, will be handled by other courts.

There will be administrative courts to look into cases related to rights of employees, administrative decisions, compensations, contracts, disciplinary actions and requests for implementing foreign rules. A higher administrative court will be established to oversee cases objecting to the rules issued by administrative appeal courts.