(parts 6 to 9)

Royal Decree No.(M/39), 28 Rajab 1422 [16 October 2001]
Umm al-Qura No.(3867), 17 Sha'ban 1422 [3 November 2001]


The English version of this document is for guidance only.
The Arabic version is the governing text.




Chapter I: Summons to Litigants


Article 136 : If an action is initiated before a court, the accused shall be summoned to appear before that court. No such summons shall be necessary where the accused appears for the hearing and a charge has been issued against him.

Article 137 : Prior to holding a hearing, litigants shall be summoned with sufficient time provided for them to appear before the competent court. An accused person who is arrested in “flagrante delecto” shall be promptly, without prior notice, brought before the court. If he asks that court to grant him a grace period in order to prepare his defense, the court must grant him sufficient time.

Article 138 : The summons shall be served on the accused personally, or at his place of residence, pursuant to the rules of the Shari'ah Procedure Law. If it is not possible to locate the place of residence of the accused, the summons shall be delivered in his last place of residence in the Kingdom to the appropriate authority in the governship, county, or district. The place where the crime has occurred shall be deemed to be the last place of residence of the accused, unless otherwise established.

Article 139 : Detainees or prisoners shall be summoned through the detention officer or prison warden, or their deputies.


Chapter II: Appearance of Litigants


Article 140 : In major crimes, the accused shall personally appear before the court, without prejudice to his right to seek legal assistance. As to other crimes, he may be represented by a representative or an attorney for his defense. In all cases, the court may issue an order for the personal appearance of the accused.

Article 141 : If the accused who has been duly summoned fails to appear on the day specified in the summon document and has not sent a representative where such representation is permissible, the judge shall proceed to hear the plaintiff's pleadings and evidence and enter them in the case record. The Judge shall not render a judgment except in the presence of the accused. If the accused fails to appear without an acceptable excuse, the judge may issue a warrant for his detention.

Article 142 : If an action is initiated against several persons with respect to one incident, and some of them fail to appear in spite of being summoned, the judge shall proceed to hear the plaintiff's pleadings and evidence against all of them, and shall enter the same in the case record. He shall not render a judgment against the absentees until they appear before the court.


Chapter III: Order During Hearings


Article 143 : Order and control over court hearings are vested with their Chairman, who shall be entitled to remove anyone who disturbs the hearings from the courtroom. If this person fails to abide by the court's order, the court may instantly sentence him to imprisonment for a period not exceeding twenty-four hours, and this decision shall be final. The court may, at any time before the end of the hearing, retract that decision.

Article 144 : The court may try any person who commits an act of assault on that court panel - while in session - or on any of its members or staff and it may issue a sentence against him according to Shari'ah principles, after he has been given the chance to defend himself.

Article 145 : If a crime other than those provided for under Articles 143 and 144 herein is committed during a court hearing, the court may, if it decides not to refer the case to the Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution, render judgment according to Shari'ah principles against the accused, after hearing his statement, except where the case falls within the jurisdiction of another court, in which case it shall be referred to that court.

Article 146 : Crimes committed during a court hearing that are not instantly determined by that court shall be decided in accordance with the general legal principles.


Chapter IV: Refusal and Dismissal of Judges


Article 147 : Subject to the provisions of Section 3 herein relating to order and control over hearings, the refusal and dismissal of judges shall be subject to the provisions of Shari'ah Procedure Law. A judge shall be precluded to try the case if the crime has been committed against him at times other than court hearings.


Chapter V: Private Right of Action


Article 148 : A person harmed by a crime and his heirs shall, at any time during the proceedings of the case in issue, be entitled to submit a request to the trial court regarding his private right of action regardless of the amount thereof, even though his action has been rejected during the investigation.

Article 149 : If the person harmed by a crime lacks capacity and has no guardian or trustee, the court in which the criminal action has been filed shall appoint a person to pursue his private right of action.

Article 150 : Private right of action shall be initiated against the accused if he is of capacity, or against his guardian or trustee if the accused lacks capacity. If such accused has no guardian or trustee, the court shall appoint a guardian on his behalf.

Article 151 : A claimant of the private right of action shall designate a place within the town where the court is located, and this shall be entered with the administration of the court. If he fails to do so, he shall be notified through the court administration.

Article 152 : The abandonment of the private right of action shall not affect the public criminal right of action.

Article 153 : If a claimant of the private right of action abandons his action in the proceedings initiated before a court handling the criminal case, he may continue the action before that court and shall not be entitled to initiate the action before another court.

Article 154 : If the person harmed by the crime files an action for damages with a competent court, and then a criminal action is filed, he may abandon his action before that court and file it with the court hearing the criminal action.


Chapter VI: Order and Procedures of Hearings


Article 155 : Court hearings shall be public. The court may exceptionally consider the action or any part thereof in closed hearings, or may prohibit certain classes of people from attending those hearings for security reasons, or maintenance of public morality, if it is deemed necessary for determining the truth.

Article 156 : Court hearings shall be attended by a clerk who records the minutes under the supervision of the Chairman of the hearing. This record shall indicate the name of the judge(s) of whom the court is composed, the name of the Prosecutor, place and time of the hearing, names of the litigants present and their advocates, their statements and claims, a summary of their pleadings, the evidence – including testimony of witnesses, any action taken during the hearing, and wordings and bases of the judgment. Each page of this record shall be signed by the Chairman, by the members of the court, and by the clerk of the court.

Article 157 : In major crimes, the Prosecutor shall appear during the court hearings in connection with the public right of action, and the court shall hear his statements and decide the same. In other cases, he shall attend court hearings if summoned by the Judge or the Prosecutor finds reason to appear.

Article 158 : No physical restraints shall be placed on the accused during court hearings. He shall be sufficiently guarded and shall not be dismissed from any hearing during deliberation of the case unless he gives cause therefore. In that case, the preceding shall continue and the accused may be admitted to the hearing whenever such cause for his removal ceases to exist. The court shall keep him informed of any action that has been taken during his absence.

Article 159 : The court shall not be bound by the description included in the memorandum of the charges. It shall give the act the proper description even though the description is not compatible with the memorandum of the charges, and shall advise the accused accordingly.

Article 160 : The court may, at any time, permit the Prosecutor to amend the memorandum of the charges at any time. The accused shall be notified of such amendment and be granted sufficient opportunity to prepare his defense with respect to such amendment, according to law.

Article 161 : During the hearing, the court shall inform the accused of the offense of which he is charged and shall read and explain to him the memorandum of the charges and provide him with a copy thereof. The court shall then ask the accused to respond.

Article 162 : If the accused at any time confesses to the offense of which he is charged, the court shall hear his statement in detail and examine him. If the court is satisfied that it is a true confession and sees no need for further evidence, it shall take no further action and decide the case. However, the court shall complete the investigation if necessary.

Article 163 : If the accused denies the offense of which he is charged, or refuses to respond, the court shall proceed to hear the evidence and take whatever action it deems necessary with respect thereto. It shall interrogate the accused in detail regarding the evidence and the content of memorandum of the charges. Each of the parties may cross-examine the witnesses called by the other party and discuss its evidence.

Article 164 : Each of the litigants may request to call any witnesses and review evidence they may present and request taking a specific action in connection with investigation proceedings. The court may reject such a request if it considers that it is intended for delay, m alice , or deception, or that granting such a request is not probative.

Article 165 : The court may call any witness whenever it concludes that there is a need to hear or cross-examine his statements. It may also hear any person who, on his own accord, appears before the court, if it considers that to be useful in determining the truth.

Article 166 : Subject to the Shari'ah rules governing the testimony with respect to hadd cases, a person summoned to testify, pursuant to a judge's order, shall appear before the court at the designated place and time.

Article 167 : If it is established that a witness has knowingly given false statements, he shall be punished for the crime of perjury.

Article 168 : If a witness is a child or his testimony is otherwise inadmissible, his statement shall not constitute a testimony. However, if the court considers that such testimony could be useful, it may proceed to hear that witness. If the witness is ill or is otherwise under a serious physical disability, rendering his examination by the judge impossible, the court may seek the assistance of someone who can communicate with that witness, but such statements shall not constitute a testimony.

Article 169 : Testimony shall be given at the court session, and each witness shall be heard separately. Where necessary, witnesses may be kept apart and confronted with each other. The court shall refuse to direct any question intended to influence the witness, or if it is a leading question. The court shall not allow directing any indecent question, unless it relates to material facts, leading to decision in the case and shall protect the witnesses against any attempted intimidation or confusion during the testimony.

Article 170 : Where necessary, the court may move to the place where the crime has been committed, or to any other place, for inspection, or to hear a witness who is unable to appear, or to ascertain any matter. The litigants shall be permitted to appear at the other place, and a judge may be assigned for that task. Any action taken by this judge shall be subject to the rules applicable to trial proceedings.

Article 171 : The court may issue an order requiring any person to surrender anything in his possession to that court and may also order the seizure of anything relating to the case in issue, if that action is deemed useful for determining the truth. Any document or other item produced during the trial may be kept, pursuant to a court order, pending the disposal of the case.

Article 172 : The court may assign one or more experts to advise on any technical questions related to the case. The expert shall provide the court, within the prescribed time, with a written report stating his opinion. Litigants may obtain a copy of that report. If the litigants, witnesses or either of them do not understand Arabic, the court may seek the assistance of interpreters. If any willful default or misrepresentation is established against one of the experts or interpreters, the court shall punish him.

Article 173 : Each of the litigants may provide the court with whatever they have in writing in connection with the case in issue, for inclusion in the file thereof.

Article 174 : The court shall first hear the prosecutor's charges, then the response of the accused or his representative or attorney. Then, the court shall hear the claimant regarding the private right of action to be followed by the response of the accused or his legal representative or attorney. Each of the parties shall be entitled to comment on the statement of the other party, and the accused shall be the last to address the court. The court may prohibit any party from continuing the pleading if his statement is irrelevant or repetitive. Thereafter, the court may either render a judgment acquitting the accused or convicting the accused and imposing the punishment. In both cases, the court shall dispose of the private right of action.


Chapter VII: Forgery as Subsidiary Action


Article 175 : The Prosecutor and all litigants may, at any stage of the proceedings, contest any part of the evidence as being forged.

Article 176 : The contestation shall be filed with the trial court and must specify the contested evidence and the grounds thereof.

Article 177 : If the trial court has reason to believe that there is a prima facie case of forgery, it shall refer the relevant documents to the competent authority and stay the action until the competent authority has issued a decision on the forgery action, where the judgment on the case in issue is contingent on the contested documents.

Article 178 : If it is decided that there is no forgery, the court shall punish the accuser, if appropriate.

Article 179 : If it is decided that all or part of a formal document has been forged, the court that has passed such decision shall order such document excluded or corrected, as the case may be. A note to that effect shall be entered into the record and the forged document be marked accordingly.


Chapter VIII: Ruling


Article 180 : A court shall base its judgment on the evidence produced during the trial. The judge shall not base his judgment on his knowledge of the facts, nor on facts contradicting such knowledge.

Article 181 : Any judgment rendered on the subject matter of a criminal action shall decide the plaintiff's claims regarding the private right of action and those of the accused, unless the court elects that a decision on those claims requires conducting special investigations upon which disposal of the criminal action may be postponed. In such a case, a court shall postpone the disposal of these claims, pending completion of the investigation.

Article 182 : The judgment shall be read in an open session at which the parties must be present, even though the case has been considered in closed sessions. The judgment shall be jointly signed by all the judges who participated in rendering it, and who must all be present at the time when the judgment is read, unless the absence of any of them is excusable. The judgment shall indicate the name of the rendering court, its date, names of the judges, names of the litigants, the crime subject of the action, a summary of claims or defenses submitted by litigants and the supporting evidence and arguments, the stages of the action, the text of the judgment, reasons and legal bases therefor, and whether it was rendered unanimously or by majority vote.

Article 183 : Any judgment shall be entered in the Judgment Record and be kept in the file of the action within ten days from the date it was rendered. An official copy thereof shall be given to the accused, to the Prosecutor and to the claimant of the private right of action, if any. Once the judgment has become final, it shall be formally communicated to whomever the court deems appropriate.

Article 184 : The court rendering judgment on the subject matter shall dispose of the litigants' claims in relation to the seized items. Where necessary, it may refer the dispute with respect to these items to a competent court. During the hearing, the court may also render a judgment with respect to the disposal of these seized items.

Article 185 : A judgment disposing of the seized items – as provided for under Article 184 hereof – shall not be executed if the judgment rendered in the action is not final, unless these items are perishable, or if the safekeeping thereof is very costly. If the court decides that the seized items be delivered to a particular person, such delivery may be prompt, with an undertaking, with or without guarantee, that the items received by him will be returned if the judgment pursuant to which he received those items is not upheld.

Article 186 : If the crime relates to the possession of real estate, the court may, during the proceedings, issue an order that such real estate be expropriated and placed at the court's disposal. If a person is convicted of a crime accompanied by the use of force, and if it appears to the court that someone has been dispossessed of real estate by the use of such force, it may issue an order that the said real estate be returned to the person from whom it was usurped, without prejudice to the rights of other parties to the real estate.

Article 187 : If an accused is convicted, or acquitted, pursuant to a judgment on the subject matter of the criminal action, no other criminal action shall be initiated against this accused in respect of the same acts and facts upon which the judgment has been rendered. If another criminal action is initiated, the previous judgment shall be maintained at any time of this action, even if the case is being considered by the Appellate Court. The court shall have due regard of the previous judgment, even if the issue has not been maintained by the litigants. Any previous ruling shall be established by submitting an official copy thereof, or a certificate issued by the court with respect thereto.


Chapter IX: Invalidity


Article 188 : Any action that is inconsistent with the principles of Shari'ah or the laws derived therefrom shall be invalid.

Article 189 : If the invalidity is attributable to non-compliance with the laws governing the composition or jurisdiction of the court, it may be maintained at any time of the hearing and be disposed of by the court without a motion.

Article 190 : Except as otherwise provided for under Article 189 hereof, if the invalidity is attributable to a correctable defect in the proceedings, the court shall correct it. If it is attributable to an uncorrectable defect, the action shall be held invalid.

Article 191 : The invalidity of a certain action shall not affect the validity of the prior actions, nor the subsequent actions, unless they have been based thereon.

Article 192 : If it appears to the court that the action includes an essential defect that cannot be corrected, it shall issue a judgment dismissing the case. That judgment does not preclude the refiling of the case when the legal requirements have been satisfied.






Chapter I: Appeal


Article 193 : The accused, the Prosecutor, and the claimant of the private right of action shall be entitled to appeal any judgment whether it relates to conviction, acquittal, or lack of jurisdiction. The court shall notify these parties of such right upon reading of the judgment.

Article 194 : An appeal against a judgment shall be within thirty days from the date of receipt of a copy of the judgment. Following the reading of the judgment, the court shall designate a date for the receipt of a copy of the judgment, within a maximum period of ten days from the date of reading the judgment, and enter the same in the case record. The appellant shall be required to sign an acknowledgement of receipt. If he fails to appear on the appointed date for receiving a copy of the judgment, such copy shall, on the same date, be deposited in the file of the case, and a note to that effect shall be entered into the record pursuant to a judge's order. The thirty-day period specified for the appeal starts running on the deposit date. The authorities in charge of the prisoner shall bring him on the prescribed time to provide him with a copy of the judgment, and shall also bring him to submit his appeal within the designated time.

Article 195 : Should an appellant fail to file his memorandum of appeal within the period provided for under Article 194 herein, the trial court shall, within forty-five days from the date of pronouncing the judgment, file that judgment with the Appellate Court. If the judgment involves a death sentence, stoning, amputation or qisas (not involving death), such judgment shall be appealed even if no litigant so requests, and the court shall file its judgment within the above-mentioned period to the Appellate Court.

Article 196 : The appeal memorandum shall be filed with the trail court, stating the appealed judgment, its date, the grounds for that judgment, the appellant's requests, and reasons supporting his appeal.

Article 197 : The court rendering the appealed judgment shall review the memorandum of appeal with respect to the grounds for such appeal without holding hearings, unless otherwise necessary. If it appears to the court that there is reason for amending that judgment, it shall be amended accordingly. Otherwise, the court shall uphold its judgment and refer it along with all the documents to the Appellate Court. If the judgment is amended, it shall be communicated to the appellant and to the other litigants and, in that case, shall be subject to the applicable rules of procedure.

Article 198 : The Appellate Court shall first consider the formalities of the appeal, and whether the appellant is entitled to file an appeal, and shall then decide whether to accept or reject the appeal for formality reasons. If the form of the appeal is rejected, the court shall issue a separate decision to that effect.

Article 199 : The Appellate Court shall dispose of the subject matter of the appeal on the basis of the evidence included in the file of the case. Litigants shall not appear before the court, unless it decides otherwise.

Article 200 : The Appellate Court may permit the litigants to submit new evidence to support the grounds of their appeal. It may also take whatever action that facilitates disposing of the subject.

Article 201 : A judgment shall be reversed if it contradicts the text of the Qur'an or Sunnah or the consensus of Muslim jurists.

Article 202 : A judgment shall be reversed if it violates the laws concerning the competence of the court with respect to its composition or jurisdiction to review the case. The Appellate Court shall designate the competent court and refer the case to it.

Article 203 : If the Appellate Court accepts the form and substance of the appeal, it shall remand the same to the trial court for reconsideration on the basis of the remarks supporting the decision of the Appellate Court. If the trial court is satisfied with those remarks, it shall amend the judgment accordingly. If the trial court is not satisfied and maintains its previous judgment, it shall answer the remarks raised by the Appellate Court.

Article 204 : The Appellate Court shall give its comments on the judgments referred to it with or without an appeal, in accordance with the provisions of Article 203.

Article 205 : If the Appellate Court is satisfied with the responses furnished by the trial court with respect to the remarks it raised, it shall affirm the judgment. If not, it shall reverse the appeal in whole or in part, as the case may be, and shall state the grounds thereof. It shall then remand the case to another court for rendering a judgment in accordance with the law. If the appealed judgment is complete in every respect, and if urgent action is deemed necessary, the Appellate Court may render judgment on the subject matter. Whenever the Appellate Court renders a judgment, such judgment shall be rendered in the presence of the litigants and its judgment shall be final, unless it is a death sentence, stoning, amputation or qisas (other than death), in which case it shall be referred to the Supreme Judicial Council.


Chapter II: Reconsideration


Article 206 : Any of the litigants may apply for reconsideration of any final judgment imposing punishment, in the following circumstances:

•  If an accused has been convicted of murder, but the person alleged to have been murdered turns out to be alive.

•  If a person has been convicted of having committed a certain act, and yet another person has also been convicted of having committed the same act, thus resulting in contradiction that leads to the conclusion that one of the two persons should be acquitted.

•  If the judgment has been based on evidence that turns out to be forged, or on testimony that turns out to be perjurious.

•  If the judgment has been based on a previous judgment that was nullified.

•  If after judgment, new evidence or facts that were unknown at the time of the trial, appeared, which could have led to the acquittal of the accused or the mitigation of punishment.

Article 207 : Request for a reconsideration shall be made by a petition submitted to the trial court and shall specify the judgment to be reconsidered and the grounds for such request.

Article 208 : The court shall consider the petition for reconsideration and shall first decide whether such petition is satisfactory as regards the form thereof. If it is accepted, the court shall designate a date for considering the substance of that petition, and shall notify the parties accordingly.

Article 209 : The court's acceptance of the formal aspect of a petition for reconsideration of a decision shall not lead to the stay of execution of the judgment, unless it is a judgment involving a corporeal punishment – such as qisas , hadd , or ta'zir . In other cases, the court, may order a stay of execution in its decision to accept the petition for reconsideration.

Article 210 : Any acquittal judgment pursuant to a petition for reconsideration must, if the convicted person so requests, include moral and material compensation to mitigate the damage suffered by him.

Article 211 : If a petition for the reconsideration of a decision is rejected, any new petition based on the same facts shall not be filed.

Article 212 : Judgments rendered on the subject matter, pursuant to a petition for the reconsideration, may be objected to and appealed, unless such judgment was rendered by the Appellate Court, in which case the provisions of Article 205 hereof shall be implemented.






Article 213 : Final judgments are those that have become final after having been accepted by the party against whom they were rendered or after having been affirmed by the Appellate Court or the Supreme Judicial Council, each according to its jurisdiction.

Article 214 : A criminal case in respect of which a judgment has been rendered shall not be reconsidered except where an appeal from that judgment has been filed in accordance with the provisions herein.






Article 215 : Penal judgments shall not be enforced unless and until they have become final.

Article 216 : An accused detainee shall be promptly released in case of an acquittal or if not sentenced to a term of imprisonment or if the term of imprisonment passed against him has expired while the accused was in detention.

Article 217 : If a convicted person is sentenced to a term of imprisonment and has already served part of that term while being detained in connection with the case that has been adjudicated, the period of such detention shall be deducted from the term of imprisonment imposed on the accused. An accused person, who has been harmed as a result of malicious accusation or as a result of being detained or imprisoned for a period exceeding the term prescribed for such detention or imprisonment, shall be entitled to compensation.

Article 218 : The court rendering a judgment of conviction may order that the execution of its penal judgment be postponed if there are material reasons for such postponement. The judgment shall specify in its text these reasons as well as the period of postponement.

Article 219 : The Chief of the court that has rendered the executable penal judgment shall send it to the Administrative Governor to take enforcement actions. The administrative Governor shall take immediate action to enforce that judgment.

Article 220 :

(a) Judgments imposing death, stoning, or amputation shall only be executed pursuant to a Royal Order to be issued by the King or his authorized representative.

(b) Representatives of the Administrative Governor, the Court, the Bureau of the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, and the police shall witness the execution of the judgment involving death, stoning, amputation, or flogging.

Article 221 : The provisions the Shari'ah Procedure Law shall apply when there are no provisions provided herein, and in matters that are not inconsistent with the nature of penal actions.

Article 222 : The implementation regulations of this law shall define the procedure for enforcement of penal judgments relating to criminal cases.

Article 223 : The Council of Ministers shall issue rules for the implementation regulations of this law pursuant to a recommendation by the Minister of Justice after agreement with the Minister of Interior.

Article 224 : This law shall repeal any provisions inconsistent therewith.

Article 225 : This law shall be published in the Official Gazette and be implemented on expiry of one hundred and eighty days after it has been published.


The revitalization of Saudi Arabia's political system reflects the nation's adaptability to modern development without compromising its religious and cultural values.

Basic System of Government
The Basic System of Government identifies the nature of the state, its goals and responsibilities, as well as the relationship between the ruler and citizens.

Council of Ministers System
In 1953, King Saud bin Abdulaziz established the Council of Ministers to facilitate the Kingdom's development.

Majlis Al-Shura (Consultative Council)
The primary function of Majlis Al-Shura is to advise the King on issues of importance to the nation.

Provincial System
To further raise the efficiency of administration and to promote the continued development of the county's provinces and their extensive social services programs, King Fahd promulgated new bylaws for the Provincial System in 1992.