Enforcing a Foreign Judgment in Saudi Arabia: Steps and Requirements

Foreign judgments are decisions or orders issued by courts or judicial bodies in a country other than the one in which enforcement is sought. In the context of Saudi Arabia, the term “foreign judgments” refers to judicial decisions issued by courts outside the Kingdom.

Conditions for Enforcing Foreign Judgments in Saudi Arabia

To enforce foreign judgments in Saudi Arabia, a set of conditions must be met to ensure respect for the Saudi legal system and principles of justice and sovereignty. These conditions include:

Condition Explanation
Judicial Jurisdiction The foreign court must have the legal jurisdiction to hear the case based on internationally accepted criteria.
Proper Notification The defendant must have been properly notified of the legal proceedings in a timely manner to enable them to defend themselves.
Finality of Judgment The foreign judgment must be final and binding in the country where it was issued.
No Violation of Public Order The judgment must not violate the principles of public order or ethics in Saudi Arabia.
No Conflict with a Saudi Judgment There must not be a prior Saudi judgment that conflicts with the foreign judgment.

Applying these conditions ensures respect for Saudi law and enhances trust in the global judicial system through international cooperation in justice.

How to Execute Foreign Judicial Judgments in Saudi Arabia

To enforce a foreign judgment in Saudi Arabia, the following steps must be taken:

  1. Verification of Execution Conditions: First, ensure that the foreign judgment meets all the necessary conditions for enforcement as outlined above.
  2. Submission of Application to Saudi Court: The concerned party must submit an application to the competent Saudi court to enforce the foreign judgment, along with all supporting documents including a copy of the original judgment and any necessary certified translations.
  3. Review of the Application by the Court: The Saudi court will review the application and ensure there are no violations of Saudi laws and regulations.
  4. Authorization for Execution: If the judgment complies with the conditions and does not conflict with Saudi public order, the court will issue an authorization to enforce the judgment.

Article 11 of the Saudi Enforcement Law

Article 11 of the Enforcement Law states:

“No foreign judgment shall be enforced in the Kingdom unless it meets several conditions to ensure it does not conflict with public order and Saudi legislation. The judgment must have obtained an enforcement formula from the competent Saudi Court of Appeal after verifying that it was issued by a competent court according to internationally accepted rules and that the court considered the legitimate rights of the parties.”

This text clarifies the legal framework for enforcing foreign judgments in Saudi Arabia and reflects the Kingdom’s commitment to international justice principles while maintaining its judicial sovereignty.

Execution of Notarized Documents Issued in a Foreign Country

Notarized documents issued in foreign countries, such as contracts signed and certified by official authorities or official documents like marriage and divorce certificates, can be enforced in Saudi Arabia under specific procedures. For the enforcement of these documents, they must:

  • Be certified by the competent authorities in the country of origin, such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the embassy.
  • Be translated into Arabic by a certified translator if written in another language.
  • Have the translation and documents certified by the Saudi embassy in the country from which the documents were issued.
  • Submit the documents to the competent Saudi court to obtain an enforcement formula.

Once these conditions are met, the competent court in Saudi Arabia can issue an order to enforce the documents according to local laws.

Read also about Premium Residency Conditions in Saudi Arabia and how to benefit from it in our detailed article available on the website of Eyad Reda Law Firm.

Attachment of Debtor’s Property Held by Others

Attachment of a debtor’s property held by others is a legal procedure that allows a creditor to access funds or assets that a debtor owns but are held by a third party. This procedure is applied in cases where the debtor fails to meet their financial obligations. Steps to implement this procedure in Saudi Arabia include:

  1. Submitting an Application to the Court: The creditor must submit an application to the court detailing the debt and requesting an attachment on the properties or funds held by others.
  2. Issuing of Court Order: If the court approves the request, it issues an order for attachment.
  3. Execution of the Order: The attachment order is executed by the enforcement authorities, where the third party (e.g., a bank or company holding the debtor’s assets) is notified of the attachment and requested to hand over the seized assets or funds to the creditor.

These procedures ensure creditors’ rights to recover their debts according to Saudi law, considering justice and protecting the rights of all concerned parties.

Barriers to Enforcing Foreign Judgments in Saudi Arabia

There are several legal barriers that might prevent the enforcement of foreign judgments in Saudi Arabia. Foreign judgments must comply with Saudi laws and standards to ensure their enforcement, and if not compliant, enforcement may be refused. Main obstacles include:

  • Violation of Public Order and Ethics: If the foreign judgment conflicts with the principles of public order or ethics in the Kingdom, it will not be enforced.
  • Judicial Jurisdiction: If the foreign court that issued the judgment did not have the appropriate judicial jurisdiction according to internationally recognized standards accepted in Saudi Arabia, the judgment might be refused.
  • Violation of International Laws: If the judgment is from a country considered hostile or does not respect international treaties Saudi Arabia participates in, the judgment might be deemed unenforceable.
  • Conflict with a Previous Saudi Judgment: If there is a prior local judgment that conflicts with the foreign judgment, the foreign judgment will not be recognized or enforced.
  • Notification and Fair Trial: If the concerned party was not properly notified of the judicial proceedings, or if the trial was not conducted fairly according to international standards, the enforcement of the judgment might be refused.

These obstacles reflect the commitment to the rule of law and justice within the Saudi judicial system, considering the Kingdom’s adherence to international standards and respect for fundamental rights.

Enforcement of Arbitration Awards in Saudi Arabia

Arbitration awards, whether local or foreign, require special treatment to ensure enforcement in Saudi Arabia. The enforcement of these awards follows the Saudi arbitration laws and the international conventions the Kingdom has signed, such as the New York Convention on the Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards.

Potential Issues in the Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards in Saudi Arabia:

Enforcing foreign arbitral awards in Saudi Arabia might face specific challenges based on the following issues:

  1. If a member of the arbitration panel is non-Muslim In some cases, questions might arise about the legitimacy of arbitration decisions if a member is non-Muslim, especially if the case involves matters governed by Islamic law.
  2. If a member of the arbitration panel is female The composition of an arbitration panel that includes women in certain specific cases might be viewed differently, depending on the nature of the dispute and the Saudi legal and cultural context.
  3. If the subject matter of the dispute is not permissible under Islamic law Arbitration decisions cannot be enforced in Saudi Arabia if the subject matter of the dispute is contrary to Islamic law, such as cases involving usury (interest) or trade in prohibitions.
  4. Adherence to the law of another country If the arbitration decision is based on the laws of another country that may conflict with the principles of Islamic law or public order in Saudi Arabia, it may face challenges in being recognized or enforced.

The enforcement of foreign arbitral awards in Saudi Arabia requires careful scrutiny and analysis to ensure that the awards comply with Saudi laws and standards to avoid any conflict that could lead to a refusal to enforce.

Services of Eyad Reda Law Firm

Eyad Reda Law Firm offers a wide range of legal services, which include:

  • Assessment of Foreign Judgments: The firm evaluates foreign judgments to determine their compatibility with Saudi laws and standards before initiating enforcement procedures.
  • Preparation of Enforcement Documents: The firm prepares all necessary documents to be submitted to Saudi courts for obtaining an enforcement order.
  • Representation in Court: The firm provides strong legal representation in Saudi courts to ensure the effective enforcement of foreign judgments.
  • Legal Consultation: The firm offers legal advice on potential complexities in enforcing foreign judgments and how to overcome them.

Advantages of Dealing with Eyad Reda Law Firm

  • Experience: The firm has extensive experience in international law and foreign judgment enforcement, qualifying it to handle various complex cases.
  • Professionalism: The firm is known for its high level of professionalism and accuracy in work, ensuring desired outcomes for its clients.
  • Effective Communication: The firm ensures clear and continuous communication with its clients to keep them informed about all details of their cases.

With these advantages, Eyad Reda Law Firm is one of the leading choices for individuals and companies seeking to enforce foreign judgments in Saudi Arabia.

Read also about the conditions for foreign investment in Saudi Arabia and the legal framework required for international investors in our detailed article available on the website of Eyad Reda Law Firm.

What is the difference between enforcing foreign judgments and judgments from Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries in Saudi Arabia?

Enforcement of judgments in Saudi Arabia varies based on the source of the judgment — whether it is foreign or from GCC countries. Several aspects distinguish these two types of enforcement:

Enforcement of Foreign Judgments

  • Recognition: Enforcing foreign judgments in Saudi Arabia involves a complex procedure that includes verifying the judgment’s compliance with Saudi laws and public order.
  • Conditions: Judgments must meet conditions such as finality, proper notification, and non-violation of public order.
  • Procedures: The procedures involve submitting an application to a Saudi court to obtain an enforcement formula and can be lengthy and require meticulous legal follow-up.

Enforcement of Judgments from GCC Countries

  • Agreement: GCC countries, including Saudi Arabia, have signed agreements that facilitate the enforcement of judgments among member states.
  • Simplification: Enforcement of judgments from Gulf countries is faster and more streamlined compared to foreign judgments due to mutual agreements.
  • No Need for Extensive Verification: Gulf judgments generally do not require rigorous examination for compliance with Saudi public order as foreign judgments do.

These differences reflect how regional agreements facilitate legal cooperation among Gulf states and promote judicial harmony among them. These agreements are part of the Gulf countries’ efforts to unify legal procedures and facilitate judicial cooperation among them, benefiting the citizens and residents of these states.

Is it possible to appeal a decision on the enforcement of a foreign judgment in Saudi courts?

Yes, it is possible to appeal a decision on the enforcement of a foreign judgment in Saudi courts. The process involves several steps that the concerned parties must follow to proceed with the appeal:

Appeal Steps

  • Submitting the Application: The party wishing to appeal must submit an appeal request within a specified period from the date of the enforcement decision, usually 30 days.
  • Justifiable Reasons for Appeal: The appellant must clarify the reasons why the enforcement decision violates the law or legal procedures. These might include:
    • Error in the application of the law.
    • Procedural errors.
    • Violation of Saudi public order.
  • Review of the Appeal: The competent court will review the appeal and decide whether the reasons are acceptable to reconsider, amend, or annul the decision.

Potential Outcomes of the Appeal

  • Acceptance of the Appeal: If the appeal is accepted, the court may annul or modify the original decision.
  • Rejection of the Appeal: If the appeal is rejected, the original decision remains valid and binding.

Legal Significance The ability to appeal enforcement decisions reflects the Saudi legal system’s commitment to justice and transparency, providing a means to challenge decisions that may significantly affect the concerned parties. These procedures allow the courts to ensure the law is applied fairly and balanced.

How do international judicial cooperation agreements signed by Saudi Arabia affect the enforcement of foreign judgments?

International judicial cooperation agreements signed by Saudi Arabia have a significant impact on how the Kingdom handles the enforcement of foreign judgments. These agreements facilitate the legal process and enhance judicial cooperation between Saudi Arabia and other countries.

Main Benefits of Judicial Cooperation Agreements

  • Facilitating Judgment Recognition: The agreements set specific standards that facilitate the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments in the Kingdom, reducing bureaucratic hurdles.
  • Mutual Enforcement: The agreements ensure mutual enforcement of judgments, meaning that judgments issued in Saudi Arabia can be enforced in other countries that have signed the same agreements, and vice versa.
  • Protection of Rights and Freedoms: These agreements ensure the respect for basic rights and freedoms by guaranteeing the application of fair and equitable judicial procedures.

Effects on the Enforcement of Foreign Judgments

  • Streamlining Procedures: The agreements simplify the procedures required for enforcing foreign judgments, speeding up the process and making it more effective.
  • Providing Legal Guarantees: These agreements provide legal guarantees that protect parties from arbitrary or unfair judgments.
  • Increasing Judicial Cooperation: These agreements enhance international judicial cooperation and open up further cooperation in other areas such as crime and investigations.

Potential Challenges

  • Legal System Compatibility: Applying some agreements may still be challenging if foreign judgments conflict with Saudi public order or ethics.
  • Balancing Sovereignty and Cooperation: It is crucial to maintain a balance between respecting national sovereignty and international judicial cooperation obligations.

Overall, international judicial cooperation agreements play a pivotal role in facilitating and enhancing the procedures for enforcing foreign judgments in Saudi Arabia, supporting legal and judicial integration with the international community.

Read also about how to enforce a foreign judgment in Saudi Arabia and the related legal procedures in our detailed analysis available on the website of Eyad Reda Law Firm.