Law & Practice

SAUDI ARABIA: Accession to the Hague Convention

Published: March 23, 2022

Munir Suboh BSA Ahmad Bin Hezeem & Associates LLP Dubai, United Arab Emirates Global Advisory Council - Middle East


Firas Qumsieh NJQ & Associates Dubai, United Arab Emirates INTA Bulletins—Middle East and Africa Subcommittee

The Saudi Arabia Cabinet of Ministries issued a resolution December 2021, to approve accession to the Hague Convention. The Royal Decree of approval was issued under number M/40 on December 30, 2021, and was published in the Official Gazette (Umm Al-Qura) on February 7, 2022.

The Hague Convention of 1961 sets out a formal process wherein member countries may verify a document via an apostille stamp issued in the document’s country of origin. The decision, headed by King Salman, also calls for abolishing the requirement of legalizing foreign public documents, known as apostille documents. The Ministries Council met virtually in December last year and issued six resolutions. Resolution number 2 was issued to officially confirm the approval of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) to enter the Hague Agreement and delegate power to the Minister of Foreign Affairs to complete all required formalities for entering the Convention.

Once KSA is officially a contracting party, brand owners and other intellectual property (IP) stakeholders residing in 121 countries will no longer be required to legalize foreign public documents when they pursue their rights locally. Both local authorities and courts will permit apostille documents, and public and governmental bodies are expected to accept apostille documents in KSA as one of the options instead of having duly legalized documents as the only available option for foreign public documents.

The apostille process is practical and will ease the legalization process, which can be costly and time-consuming. The existing process requires IP owners to plan in advance. It limits their ability to take prompt action to address unforeseen incidents, hindering their flexibility to respond to events requiring further legal measures. The substantial delay inconveniences and restricts IP owners’ ability to pursue their rights. It also incurs notable official and service fees to complete the legalization formalities.

KSA entering the Convention will help applicants appoint and instruct their external counsels promptly and smoothly in the future, enhancing IP protection in KSA.

In the same session held by the Ministries Council, a resolution was issued to approve the new evidence law, which should also substantiate a modern system in evidence and claims before local Saudi courts, including commercial and IP proceedings.

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