SCCA: Saudi Arabia underscores party autonomy in the choice of party representation in arbitration proceedings

Tuesday 1444/1/18 - 2022/08/16
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Riyadh, August 16, 2022, SPA -- The Saudi Center for Commercial Arbitration (SCCA) confirmed, in a recent study conducted by SCCA in coordination with the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), that Saudi legislation protects the parties’ freedom to choose any representative – including foreign legal counsel – before arbitral tribunals with no conditions to be a lawyer or a Saudi national.
SCCA examined the texts of Saudi laws related to the arbitration industry, especially the Arbitration Law and the Enforcement Law, and concluded that those laws are free from any restriction that prevents non-Saudi or non-lawyers from pleading before arbitral tribunals on behalf of the parties.
SCCA’s study stated that party representation by non-Saudis and non-lawyers in arbitration proceedings is not one of the grounds for annulment specified in Article 50 of the Arbitration Law; thereby putting to rest the hesitation of allowing foreign legal counsel to represent parties in Saudi-seated arbitrations.
SCCA said the legislative and judicial authorities’ shared stance toward protecting parties’ freedom to choose the person they want as their representative before arbitral tribunals is aligned with international best practices in the industry. It strengthens Saudi Arabia’s position as an attractive place to arbitrate commercial disputes at local and international level. It further supports Saudi’s efforts to achieve its Vision 2030 objectives by facilitating business and attracting local and foreign investments.
In its study, SCCA stated that arbitration is distinct from other means of dispute resolution as it is based on the principle of party autonomy. Under this principle, parties are, among other things, at liberty to choose the procedural rules governing their dispute as well as their representatives regardless of their nationality or profession. Consistent with this principle, the Saudi Arbitration Law does not restrict the selection of party representatives by nationality or profession.
The same spirit can also be found in Article 14 of the Arbitration Law, which does not limit the choice of arbitrators by gender, nationality or profession. It, however, requires that a sole arbitrator or the chair of an arbitral tribunal must have a university degree in law or Sharia.
The study was prepared in the context of SCCA’s efforts to educate and further the overall ADR environment and practices in Saudi Arabia by actively reaching out to and collaborating with MOJ, the judiciary and other authorities to identify, address and resolve concerns that may frustrate the industry.
14:00 LOCAL TIME 11:00 GMT