Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia announced that it is preparing four bills aimed at legislative reforms in the country. The announcement came from the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, who said that Saudi Arabia is proceeding according to serious steps in recent years towards developing a legislative environment, through the growth and reform of systems that preserve rights, establish principles of justice and transparency, protect human rights, achieve comprehensive development, and enhance competitiveness in the Kingdom globally.
The four draft laws are the draft personal status system, civil transactions system project, penal system project for punitive penalties, and evidence system project. The following was defined as “a step towards a codified legal system.” The Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, announced a draft law regulating the personal status system in the Kingdom, along with 4 other projects that will be submitted to the Council of Ministers for study and review before being referred to the Shura Council and issued.
Mohammad Bin Salman stressed that these laws will be in line with the latest modern international judicial practices, in a manner that does not conflict with legal provisions.
The head of the Board of Grievances, Khaled Al-Yousef, commented, explaining the impact of this project, saying that “the system of specialized legislation announced by His Highness the Crown Prince – may God protect him – in the field of personal status, proof, civil transactions, and punitive penalties will reduce the disparity in judicial rulings, and enhance the community members’ sense of justice and their confidence in the judiciary.”
As of October 2021, the Ministry of Justice in Saudi Arabia is preparing to issue a draft personal status law, with a primary focus on the family and strengthening ties.
Minister of Justice Walid Al-Samaani said, during his speech at the Saudi Family Forum 2021, that the draft personal status law announced by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman within a specialized system of the legislature was based on several goals. The most important of them were focusing on the family situation, strengthening family ties wherever possible, and reducing the negative impact of separation.
Al-Samaani said that the project focused mainly on confirming the woman’s consent to marriage, preserving her financial rights and alimony for her children, in addition to other issues related to divorce applications. Al-Samani, during his participation in the forum, said that many public policies, including the basic law of governance, focus on empowering the family to achieve sustainable social development and overcome any challenges. He indicated that Saudi Vision 2030 also specifies in many of its programs and articles to boost and develop the status of the family and endeavor to overcome all hindrances facing its members. And if you are struggling to preserve your rights you can always reach out to the legal experts.
One of the decisions, as clarified by the minister that contributed to enhancing the sustainability and stability of the family, was the alteration made in the executive regulations of the legal pleadings system by adding a legal text referring all personal status disputes to the conciliation center to try reconciliation of the spouses. Al-Samaani reported that with the implementation of this amendment, personal status disputes related to divorce, alimony and other matters declined by more than 20 percent, expressing his hope that they will reduce further.
On the development of procedural aspects in personal status disputes, he said that the establishment of the Cases Audit Center contributed to reducing the duration of judicial hearings in personal status cases by more than 30 percent. He said that the goal of digital transformation in the Ministry of Justice is not only to enable service provision but to facilitate procedures, especially with regard to the quality and nature of cases such as personal status cases. The filing of cases from home or elsewhere has also enabled judicial and relevant authorities, such as the Human Rights Commission, to exercise their role and assess the societal situation.
According to Al-Samaani, the ministry launched 120 electronic services. He further added that the judicial sessions did not halt during the Covid-19 pandemic. Over more than 1.5 million hearings were held, more than one million judgments were issued by electronic litigation, and more than 3 million applications were submitted electronically. Further adding that the Ministry of Justice has applied artificial intelligence techniques to its system.