Following a public consultation on proposed amendments, Saudi Arabia’s Capital Market Authority have approved amendments to the Market Conduct Regulations. They will come into force on their published date. They are aimed at boosting protections for securities investors against unfair or unsound practices which involve fraud, deceit, or manipulation. They are also aimed at developing the capital market’s legal and regulatory framework and promote its stability, develop procedures to minimise risks associated with securities transactions and boost confidence in the capital market. Among other amendments, the provisions regulating the prohibition of acts or practices involving manipulation or deceit will be developed. This will be done by clarifying that the scope of these acts or practices will include promoting the purchase of a security for the purpose of selling or promoting the sale of a security for the purpose of purchasing it. The amendments will also develop the provisions regulating the prohibition of insider trading and disclosure of inside information for the purpose of including front running trades.
Saudi Arabia: The General Assembly of the Saudi Supreme Court has ordered rents owed by businesses affected by COVID-19 be waived
The General Assembly of the Saudi Supreme Court has ordered rents owed by businesses affected by COVID-19 be waived. A review of such contracts between tenants and landlords has also been ordered. However, the authorities have also set conditions which must apply before a case can be eligible for review under the new regulations. If a contract was concluded before the anti-COVID-19 measures started, the impact on the affected party will have need to have been direct and unavoidable. In addition, in these cases, an affected party must not have been compensated or reached a deal to mitigate the effects of the crisis. In such cases a review will be possible and the new regulations will come into effect. A competent court will then issue their verdict based on the facts and circumstantial evidence. They may order the contract be amended. These new provisions will apply to tenancy contracts and movable properties affected by COVID 19. The regulations also cover other types of contract such as construction and supply contracts, which have been affected by the crisis. If a contract obliges one of the parties to carry out something, which cannot be completed on time because of COVID 19, the court can temporarily suspend implementation of the obligation. If the other party fears unusual damage because of the suspension, they may request termination of the contract. The court has stressed the need for damages to be carefully assessed on a case-by case basis. This should be done by one or more experts and when assessing damages, it should be clear which losses were incurred directly because of COVID 19 and had nothing do to with seasonal changes in activities. The Supreme Court has explained that courts are bound, when considering cases arising from contracts and obligations impacted by COVID 19, not to apply penalty clauses or fines totally or partially, depending on the case. Where a contract includes an exemption of liability clause for one of the contracting parties when an emergency or force majeure event occurs, the condition has no effect and the party which breached the obligations must provide evidence COVID 19 caused the breach. Affected contracts which are not covered by this principle will be subject to standard legal and statutory litigation principles.
Saudi Arabia’s Industry and Mineral Resources Minister has agreed to restructure the mining sector by creating three new agencies. They will be led by the Deputy Minister for Mining Affairs. They are the Ministry’s Agency for Mineral Resources, the Ministry’s Agency for Mining Control and Compliance and the Ministry’s Agency for Mining Development. The aim is to provide faster and better services to investors in the mining sector.
Saudi Arabia’s Human Resources and Social Development Minister has announced the Kingdom has ratified the International Labour Organisation agreement No. 90 on the protection of salaries and agreement No. 120 on health rules in the work environment. The Ministry launched a wages protection programme in 2013 which has been improved since then to reflect the 2030 Vision.
Saudi Arabia’s Central Bank will be able to buy or rent property under the new Central Bank Law. They will be able to do so providing the purpose is to diversify its foreign investments. The Law also bans the Bank from engaging in trade or participating in commercial activities or taking an interest in any commercial, industrial or agricultural projects. However, there will be exceptions to this, where the Bank does any of these activities to fulfil any of its objectives.
In addition, the Central Bank will be banned from financing or lending to the Government or to any individuals. However, there will be exception to this where the Bank carries out these activities to help manage the liquidity of financial institutions or are responding to crises.
The Central Bank’s assets, revenues, and properties will have immunity and should not be raided, seized, confiscated, possessed, or expropriated and they are not subject to any bankruptcy procedures.
They will also not be subject to the Competition and Government Procurement Law. However, they will be subject to the regulations and policies issued by the Board, provided the regulations and policies are consistent with the objectives and basic principles of the Competition Law.
The Bank’s contracts and agreements will be subject to the policies approved by the Board. There will be some exceptions, including where contracts and agreements are related to foreign laws if the rulings establish, they are subject to the jurisdiction of foreign courts.
Saudi Arabia’s Cabinet has approved the Saudi Central Bank Law. It means the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority will be renamed the Central Bank of Saudi Arabia. They will report to the King but will still have financial and administrative independence, in line with the international practices of central banks. All of the obligations and rights of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority will be transferred to the Central Bank.
Saudi Arabia’s Authority for Intellectual Property has announced it has launched a service to allow the registration of collective trademarks. The service has been launched in line with international practices. Those interested in using the service should visit the Authority’s website to register.
Saudi Arabia’s Industry and Mineral Resources Ministry has announced it has published draft implementing regulations to the Mining Investment Law. They have launched a public consultation on them and this ends on 30 November. The Ministry will then review the proposals and feedback and make any appropriate changes. The announcement follows the report last week that the authorities are looking to accept new mining license applications next month.
The Vice Minister for Mining Affairs at Saudi Arabia’s Industry, and Mineral Resources Ministry has announced the Mining Investment Law will come into force next year. It is aimed at revolutionising the Kingdom’s mining sector and boosting its contribution to GDP by more than 240 billion Riyals. It is also aimed at reducing imports by 37 billion Riyals and creating 200,000 jobs by 2030. Under the Law, a mining fund will also be established and will provide sustainable finance for the sector as well as support geological survey and exploration programmes. Experts have valued mineral resources in the Kingdom at five trillion Riyals which the Law is aimed at tapping into. Finally, a National Geological Database has been set up to support the sector. It will provide access to 10,000 mining reports and 80 years of data.
Saudi Arabia’s Food and Drug Authority has urged businesses to comply with the anti-Coronavirus rules. The call followed the referring of five businesses to the Interior Ministry for non-compliance. The violations included a lack of commitment to safety instructions like taking employee and customers’ temperatures before they entered the entity, failing to wear face-masks and providing sanitisers in designated places. The Authority has issued a detailed guidebook on the measures food, drugs, cosmetic and medical equipment entities have to take to comply with the anti-Coronavirus rules.