Saudi Arabia International Trade in Legal Services

Saudi Arabia International Trade in Legal Services


Is there legislation governing the legal sector

The Code of Law Practice

Under what title do lawyers practise?

Lawyers in Saudi Arabia practise under a single title, 'mohamy', which may be translated as 'advocate' or 'lawyer'.

How does an individual lawyer obtain a "licence" to practise law? How often must this be renewed?



In order to practise as an advocate, an individual must have his name registered in the table of practising advocates. In order to be registered, an individual must: 1. Hold Saudi nationality. A non-Saudi may practise as an advocate subject to the provisions of any agreements between the Kingdom and other countries; 2. Be in possession of a degree from a Islamic Law college or a B.A degree in law from one of the universities of the Kingdom, or the equivalent or either of these two degrees from outside the Kingdom,  or hold a diploma in law studies from the Institute of Public Administration following a university degree; 3.Have fulfilled a training period of not less than 3 years, or 1 year in the case of holders of a Masters Degree in Islamic Law or other legal specialization, or equivalent;    4. Be of good conduct and behaviour;  5.Not to have been convicted of dishonesty, unless at least 5 years have elapsed since the completion of the sentence;  6.Be resident in the Kingdom.   Licences are valid for five years.

Does this entitle the holder to practise throughout the country? If the law license only permits one to practice on a sub-national level, please explain the jurisdictional limits

Saudi Arabian lawyers are entitled to practise throughout the country

Are there certain activities that are "reserved" to those who are licensed to practise law in the jurisdiction?

According to the Code of Law Practice, advocates are the only persons entitled to practise law, although there are some exceptions for next-of-kin, company lawyers and government representatives who may appear in court on behalf of their relative/employer.

Do you need to hold local nationality to be eligible to practise law?

According to article 3A of the Code of Law Practice, the practice of law is reserved to Saudi nationals, subject to any provisions in agreements between the Kingdom and other countries.

What legal forms can lawyers work in? (e.g. self employment, partnership, limited liability partnership, multi-disciplinary partnership, incorporation)

According to article 10 of the Code of Law Practice, Saudi lawyers may establish law firms with other registered lawyers, in accordance with the provisions of the regulation on professional partnerships. Companies

What other ethical or regulatory requirements must a licensed lawyer comply with? 

The Code of Law Practice sets out further conduct requirements that a licensed Lawyer must comply with, in particular in relation to conflicts of interest. There is no separate Code of Conduct for lawyers.

Do law firms need to receive a "license" (or permission/approval) to practice law?

Lawyers who establish law firms in accordance with the Professional Partnerships Regulations need to register these in accordance with the professional partnerships regulation. Saudi lawyers may have more than one office in the Kingdom but need to register each one with the Ministry of Justice. 

Which authority issues licences? Are there different authorities for individuals and firms? 

Registration of lawyers is undertaken by the Lawyers Registration and Admission Committee, which comprises the Deputy Minister of Justice, a representative from the Board of Grievances and a practising lawyer appointed by the Minister of Justice



Are there any explicit rules or restrictions other than visas on fly in fly out practice of law? Ie. Do you need to obtain a licence for temporary practice?

There are no separate rules on temporary practice.

Can a foreign lawyer obtain a visa to visit clients or to market but not to practice?

Foreign lawyers can obtain visas to enter Saudi Arabia as legal consultants but require a letter of invitation from a Saudi business or government department.

Can a foreign lawyer obtain a licence to establish and practise as a foreign legal consultant and what is the scope of this limited licence?

A non-Saudi may be licensed to practise as a legal consultant in Saudi Arabia but this licence does not permit the individual concerned to plead before the courts, the Board of Grievances or any other committee mentioned in article 1 of the Code of Law Practice.  

Are there any conditions that must be fulfilled once a foreign lawyer has been granted a limited licence (e.g. residency requirement)

A licensed foreign lawyer must also fulfil the following conditions:  He should be engaged in legal consultancy work on full time basis, he should reside in the Kingdom for a period of not less than 9 months in a year and he should regularly attend the office and sign all the correspondence issued by the office in relation to cases.  He may, however, appoint a Saudi advocate to undertake these tasks on his behalf.

Are there any conditions that must be fulfilled for a foreign lawyer to qualify for a limited licence? (e.g. prior practice)

In order to obtain a limited licence to practice in Saudi Arabia, a foreign lawyer must fulfil all the conditions required of a Saudi lawyer (as set out in Article 3 of the Code of Law Practice), with the exception of the nationality requirement.  He must also have prior practice experience of not less than 5 years.

Are foreign lawyers permitted to undertake arbitration and mediation?

Under Saudi Arabia's 1983 arbitration law, arbitrators had to have full civil capacity, which meant that they had to be male and of the Islamic faith. The new 2012 Act requires that sole arbitrators or chairmen of panels of arbitrators should hold at least a university degree in Islamic Law

Are foreign lawyers allowed to appear in court under any circumstances?

An Arab Lawyer, who is a national of a member country of the Arab Union, has the right  to plead before the Saudi courts in conjunction with a registered Saudi lawyer provided reciprocal access is granted in the visiting lawyer's home country.

Can foreign lawyers requalify as local lawyers?

Requalification is not possible due to the nationality provision in the law.


Can a foreign law firm obtain a licence to open an office?

Foreign law firms may only practise in association with Saudi law firms.

Even if a foreign law firm does not require a legal licence must they register in some form in order to set up an office? (e.g. with a ministry of company affairs etc)

Not applicable

Are there different types of foreign law firm 'licence'  (e.g. Joint Law Venture, stand alone foreign licence etc)

Licensed foreign legal consultants may set up as sole practitioners or in partnership with a Saudi lawyer

Is there a quota on the number of licences available?

Not applicable

Are there geographical restrictions on foreign firm licences or on the number of branches a foreign firm can have?

Not applicable

Are there "scope of practice" rules that apply directly to foreign law firms (as opposed to lawyers themselves)? (e.g. home, host, international law), if so, what are they? Not applicable
Are there restrictions on the corporate form a foreign law firm can take? Not applicable as the associate Saudi firm will have to conform to local rules on the formation of law firms.
Are there rules about the name a foreign law firm can take? Not applicable
What entity grants a 'license' to a foreign law firm? If that entity is on the Internet, please provide the URL The Saudi Arabian foreign investment authority


Are there restrictions on the ownership share of foreign lawyers in a law firm?

Foreign lawyers may practise as individuals but in a corporate structure they must have at least one Saudi partner, so the maximum ownership share of a foreign law firm is 50%.

May a domestic lawyer be employed by a foreign lawyer or law firm?

Not applicable

Can a domestic lawyer enter into partnership with a foreign lawyer?

Partnerships between foreign and Saudi lawyers are permitted

Can a domestic lawyer or domestic law firm employ a foreign lawyer?

A non-Saudi lawyer may also work for a Saudi lawyer provided that his work is limited to the preparation of memoranda in the name of the advocate in possession of the license and providing assistance to him.



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