Court hearings to be fully recorded

Justice Minister Waleed Al-Samaani speaks during the TV interview.

Saudi Gazette report

— The Ministry of Justice will soon enable audio-visual recording of hearings, which will realize the open court principle and safeguard the rights of all parties to the litigation.

During an interview on Saudi TV recently, Justice Minister Waleed Al-Samaani has said the initiative will be launched soon, and in its advanced stages will enable digital minutes and reports.

“We’re also working on the tele-interpretation project, all within a framework of transparent governance aimed at better work in the justice sector,” he said.

“The audio-visual documentation is intended to facilitate work by digitizing all pleadings, then the digital media can be reviewed by the parties and the judge,” he added. “This will reduce complaints and protect the rights of all parties, since these recordings will enable review by the Supreme Judicial Council.”

The minister also said in the coming four months, women would obtain maintenance without the need for any legal proceedings, in a manner similar to the recent practice on custodianship regulations. “If a party to the case objects to the decision or estimation, they can apply to the personal court,” he said.

Al-Samaani revealed that the ministry would soon implement the Notarization Bill, delegating several probate cases and certifications currently handled by courts to notaries public and private notaries, and organizing the notarial sector in general.

“The ministry has made great progress in the digital transformation of the notarial sector, including powers of attorney, and will further digitize conveyance procedures,” he added.

“Although the judiciary has a special jurisdiction, judges are not exempt from follow-up and supervision. The Supreme Judicial Council will undertake its full duty in this regard,” the minister explained about ratings of the judiciary’s performance.

“The ministry has launched the ‘Qayyim’ initiative, aiming to evaluate and survey clients’ satisfaction,” Al-Samaani said. “This will cover all courts in the future,” he added.

He also pointed out that the number of ratings reached 250,000, which helped the ministry and the Supreme Judicial Council in enhancing performance and addressing any issues.

With regard to the suspension of services by the ministry, Al-Samaani said: “The decisions of the enforcement judiciary aim to swiftly and efficiently restore the rights of claimants. They target the funds and monetary instruments of those proven to owe an amount through a judicial ruling or an enforceable document.”

Judicial decisions cannot go beyond the execution debtor to other people or family members, the minister added, pointing out that the ministry has issued decisions asserting that any suspension of services must be specific to the execution debtor, and only in connection with financial transactions.

“The Ministry of Justice and other competent authorities give great importance to this issue since it has to do with a significant number of citizens,” he added.

Discretionary power

“A judge’s ability to employ discretion is an important means for the proper functioning of justice and accurate application of Shariah and law,” the minister said. “There are procedural and professional controls over that power undertaken by appellate courts and the Supreme Judicial Council, ensuring proper scope, accuracy, and compliance,” he added.

Al-Samaani pointed out that the ministry had worked on developing the notarial sector, in procedures, technicalities and reliability. “The ministry has worked on the Property Ownership Bill, which addresses issues such as adverse possession and ownership deeds to achieve the public and private interest,” he added.

1,500 private notaries

“The ministry has granted over 1,500 notarization licenses to male and female private notaries, who work alongside public notaries and issue fully recognized documents,” the minister said.

“The 10 days following the launch of e-notarization have witnessed more than 70,000 digital PoA operations, without encountering any issues,” Al-Samaani said, adding that 70 percent of real estate conveyances are now digitally performed, and the target in the near future is 100 percent.

Regarding quasi-judicial committees, Al-Samaani announced that medical and health committees would soon be transferred from the Ministry of Health to the MOJ’s jurisdiction.

Employment contracts are now considered enforceable documents, the minister said. “This will enable the holder of an employment contract to go directly to the enforcement court; labor courts will only adjudicate real disputes,” he added.

The minister confirmed that pleading at appellate courts had been activated for certain types of cases, including commercial cases and some criminal cases. “Appellate pleading will be activated for other cases, and this will be completed within the next three years,” the minister said.

Alimony awards to become automatic without litigation, says Al-Samaani