Keywords: Saudi Arabia, arbitral award,
UNCITRAL model law
Today, 9 July, Saudi Arabia, the largest economy in the Middle
East, takes a big step forward with its new Arbitration Law
consisting of 58 new articles. Broadly in line with the UNCITRAL
Model Law, it replaces its 1983 predecessor and brings Saudi Arabia
in line with other countries in the region. The key changes set out
below are significant improvements to arbitration in the
Court intervention axed
Parties to arbitrations no longer have to file their arbitration
agreement with the court so that it can supervise the arbitration
process. This should significantly speed up arbitrations.
Appointment of the tribunal
A detailed process now deals with the appointment of arbitrators
and any challenges. For three-arbitrator tribunals, the two
appointed arbitrators can now nominate a chairman, thereby avoiding
the need for court intervention.
Conflict of interest
Arbitrators must now tell the parties of any circumstances that
might create suspicion as to their independence and impartiality.
This will improve transparency and increase the credibility of
Time limit for the Award
An arbitral award must be issued within twelve months of the start
of the arbitration but the arbitral tribunal can extend this period
by a further six months and the parties can agree a longer
extension. This change further accelerates the arbitration process,
in contrast to the previous law, the main criticism of which was
the slow pace of arbitration.
Any challenge to an arbitral award must now be made within 60 days
of the award and only on narrow grounds that reflect the New York
Convention and the UNCITRAL Model Law. What has not changed,
however, is the fact that a court may not enforce an award, or part
of it, which conflicts with Shari'a law.
These changes are likely to increase both acceptance and use of
arbitration in Saudi Arabia by providing a more appropiate
arbitration process for resolving disputes.
Raid will be discussing the new law at a seminar on 12 July at
5.45pm on "International Arbitration in the Middle
East and Sub-Sahara Africa" at Mayer Brown's
offices at 201 Bishopsgate.
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Mayer Brown article provides information and comments on legal
issues and developments of interest. The foregoing is not a
comprehensive treatment of the subject matter covered and is not
intended to provide legal advice. Readers should seek specific
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