Volume 1 (2014) / Issue 1
Saudi Arabia's new arbitration law promises to modernize the country's arbitration system in several fundamental ways. Most importantly, it curtails the courts' interventionist powers in Saudi-seated arbitrations by recognizing for the first time the parties' autonomy to tailor their arbitration procedure, including by recognizing the adoption of institutional arbitration rules. It also addresses a key concern - the power of the courts to reopen and re-litigate awards on their merits. Parties can choose the governing law, language and arbitrators, and an arbitration agreement may now be incorporated by reference or contained in written correspondence between the parties. The new law also repeals the obligation under the old law for parties to file their arbitration agreement with the courts for prior validation. Although a welcome development, the degree of change in practice remains unclear for now. Much will depend on the text of the implementing regulations (yet to be enacted) and how the courts apply the new law.
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