RIYADH, November 29, 2018 – For the first time in its 86-year history, Saudi Arabia has opened the doors to labour courts aimed at organising the labour market, protecting workers and boosting investment. The labour courts are just the latest in the types of specialised courts launched by the Kingdom.
The labour courts – to be fully digitalised – were officially launched by Justice Minister Walid Al-Samaani and the Minister of Labour and Social Development Ahmed Al-Rajhi on November 25. There are seven courts, one in each of the Kingdom’s major cities: Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam, Makkah, Madinah, Abha and Buraidah.
The launch of the labour courts comes on the heels of the official launch of commercial courts in October. Commercial courts have begun operations in the country’s three major cities – Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam. The new courts are in line with the Vision 2030 initiative to revitalise the business environment, fuel investment and accelerate economic development in the Kingdom.
Minister Al-Samaani said the establishment of labour courts was an important step towards growing the labour market and creating a climate to attract investments. The new courts aim to reduce the time needed to complete litigation. The labour courts are digitally integrated with all government bodies that are relevant to the areas of law it considers.
According to the Ministry of Justice, the labour courts will help to boost the Kingdom’s classification in international indices, while enhancing investment opportunities in the Kingdom by guaranteeing justice in the business sector.
The labour courts were launched under a Royal Decree issued in 2007. The Ministry said that the Kingdom had been working to develop initiatives that would organise the labour market and help it to reach its full potential.
Some 13 million workers are in Saudi Arabia, 10 million of which are foreign and 3 million Saudi, the Ministry said in July citing official statistics. These numbers are expected to increase with the ongoing mega projects across the Kingdom and the increasing demand for labour, according to the Ministry. Establishing labour courts constitutes a major step towards facilitating projects and ensuring that workers are part of a well-defined system that protects them, the Ministry added.
The Ministry of Justice says it hopes to achieve four objectives through the new courts: boosting investment opportunities, achieving excellence, expediting decisions on labour cases and enabling benefits stemming from the rich databases courts maintain.
At the time of the launch of the commercial courts, Minister Al Samaani said that these legal entities would foster a business environment built on trust and transparency, while expediting the resolution of commercial disputes. He called the start of operations of these courts “a quantum leap and a major development for specialised courts” in Saudi Arabia.
By streamlining commercial dispute procedures, expectations are that the business environment will be enhanced, investment encouraged and economic development boosted.
Minister Al Samaani said that the ministry’s “paperless-court” project had reduced bureaucratic procedures and shortened the period for executing judicial orders from two months to 72 hours. This has been enabled by activating the electronic linking system that connects all relevant entities.