Saudi Arabia has started implementing new legislation for its justice system to improve judicial services and develop courts.
The new Judicial Costs Law, approved by the Council of Ministers, will reduce malicious lawsuits, encourage reconciliation between litigants, and promote documentation of transactions and contracts.
There will be no court costs for lawsuits related to divorce, alimony, and child’s custody.
There will be free litigation if it is a right guaranteed to all parties involved in cases that are not subject to the new law.
The idea of imposing fees is based on eliminating disparities between judicial costs and the principle of free litigation. The law also aims to contribute to raising the performance level of courts and bring down the number of malicious lawsuits.
There are provisions in the law under which the loser in the lawsuit shall bear the costs of litigation. The provisions of the law will be applicable to all lawsuits and pleas filed in the courts.
There will be exemption for five types of lawsuits. They are general criminal lawsuits and requests related to them; lawsuits and requests related to the execution of judicial verdicts; lawsuits examined by the Civil Status Courts such as divorce, alimony and custody (of children); lawsuits and requests that are within the jurisdiction of the administrative courts established to deal with state agencies, in addition to the suits related to termination of court proceedings.
The law ensures that judicial costs do not exceed SAR 1 million, taking into account of the effectiveness of the amount spent in achieving the objectives of the law.
The law also exempts from payment of judicial costs in a number of occasions, such as prisoners and detainees at the time they are entitled to judicial costs in financial cases that are nothing to do with criminal cases filed either by them or against them; plea for appeal if the court orders to review an appealed judgment, in addition to the request for cassation if it was decided to return the case to the court that issued the judgment, in the event of objecting the verdict.
Those who are exempted from the law included the parties involved in the cases that end in conciliation before the first session is adjourned, as well as claims for special rights that are filed in penal cases if they end in conciliation, in addition to the cases in which the arbitrators’ judgment is issued.
The law clarified that there will be a reduction of costs to one-fourth in the event of reconciliation, in addition to refunding the judicial costs paid when it becomes clear that it was not obligatory for them to make the payment.
According to the law, failure to pay the judicial costs does not prevent the court either from hearing the case or continuing with procedures including issuing of the verdict, and their collection shall be in accordance with the procedures and rules specified by the regulation.
The collected judicial costs shall be deposited in a special account of the Ministry of Finance, and that will be set aside to spend on projects to develop the judiciary and improve the performance of the judicial facility.