Why we have 10 litigators in an office in Riyadh

John B. Quinn
John B. Quinn
Published: Updated:
Read Mode
100% Font Size
8 min read

Our law firm has an unusual practice model: We only do dispute work; that is to say, we do litigation, arbitration, corporate investigations, regulatory issues, and generally help parties identify and navigate legal risks. We are the largest law firm in the world that does what we do, with 35 offices in 11 countries. Two years ago, in affiliation with our Saudi partner, we opened our office in the G20’s fastest-growing economy: Saudi Arabia.

For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

Like the country itself, our office has grown quickly to include over 10 Saudi lawyers imbued with a passion to serve at the nexus of litigation, arbitration, and Saudi national development.

It is a statement in itself that our firm would open an office in a market like Saudi Arabia. This globally leading disputes firm has come to Saudi Arabia and established a robust legal presence. This means that the rule of law is alive and well in Saudi Arabia, and litigants can expect even-handed, predictable treatment.

Why did we come to Riyadh?

We are here because Saudi Arabia is undergoing an unprecedented transformation spearheaded by dynamic leadership and an ambitious young population.

The pace of change is so rapid, and the amount of capital being deployed – both inbound and outbound – is staggering. It reminds me of the title of the Academy Award-winning movie “Everything Everywhere All At Once.”

In these circumstances, where so much is happening so fast, it is inevitable that there will be occasions for businesses and governments to call on people like us to help them resolve legal issues and litigate or arbitrate disputes. This is a natural byproduct of transformation at scale, and we are here to ensure that change-induced wrinkles are ironed out swiftly and decisively.

The size and magnitude of economic activity in the Kingdom make it one of the most exciting places on earth. Led by Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia offers a plethora of promising opportunities to companies and investors.

Saudi Vision 2030

In 2016, the Kingdom began an ambitious journey to diversify its economy and transform its society. That strategy has paid dividends: Saudi Arabia has achieved its highest growth in a decade, becoming the fastest-growing G20 economy – and we are only at the Vision’s halfway mark.

This economic dynamism fuels – and is fueled by – ambitious industrial and service sector projects. Aiming to reduce dependence on oil, Vision 2030 has unlocked previously untapped potential across several sectors in the Kingdom. Take the 160 vehicle factories now active in Saudi Arabia, many of which are dedicated to electric vehicles. Electric cars are projected to account for 5 to 7 percent of the economic growth. Three of the major manufacturing projects in the Kingdom are dedicated to the automobile industry – Lucid and Ceer for electric vehicles, and SNAM for conventional cars. Vision 2030 is likewise catalyzing investments in the mining sector with the aim of securing access to minerals used in solar panels, electric vehicles, and other renewable energies.

Tourism is another nascent yet high-growth sector. The new national airline – Riyadh Air – will reach over 100 destinations by 2030. The new King Salman International Airport is set to become one of the world’s biggest airports. NEOM, the Kingdom’s 100-mile mega-city, aims to be not only a tourist destination but also a paradigm-shifting model for sustainable living and futuristic innovation.

Foreign companies investing across these strategic sectors are fanning the flames of progress and economic growth in the Kingdom.

Multinational pharmaceutical giants such as Novartis, Pfizer, Sanofi, and GlaxoSmithKline have partnered with local companies. The Kingdom’s healthcare system is seeing renewal through the Health Sector Transformation Program, which has improved access to health services and delivered cutting-edge e-health and digital solutions to the Saudi people.

Hand in hand with these remarkable economic projects, the authorities in the Kingdom have adapted and modernized legal codes, laws and regulations to create the legal infrastructure necessary to support them.

Modernized legal codes, laws and regulations

For example, the recent enactment of the Saudi Civil Transactions Law (the Saudi Civil Code) is expected to improve transparency and predictability, streamline civil transactions, and strengthen the protection of ownership rights. The Kingdom is also at the forefront of digital transformation and large-scale integration, including digitizing its court system and harnessing technology in court proceedings. Khibrah, an electronic portal connected to the court system, is a clear case in hand. Through Khibrah, experts from different disciplines register their credentials on the integrated platform. When a case, such as a construction dispute, then arises and requires specialized knowledge, the portal enables judges to select from a pool of pre-vetted experts.

Establishing the scope of the expert’s role, inviting experts to submit proposals, requesting documents from the parties, and circulating and responding to the expert reports can all be done electronically through Khibrah. These features streamline the expert evidence process, reduce the load on judges, and afford them more time to focus on other issues being litigated.

From our perspective, there is still work to be done to improve the legal system even further. For example, if the Judicial Committee, which has authority over competition matters, were to publish its decisions, it would help local and international investors understand and comply with the Saudi Competition Law. Our firm has one of the largest antitrust litigation practices and has acted globally in some of the most significant antitrust cases. In fact, we represented LIV Golf in its recent antitrust case against the PGA Tour in the United States. Our experience has confirmed that the Saudi General Authority for Competition has been doing an impressive job, particularly through its active enforcement of the Saudi Competition Law, which should help reduce anti-competitive practices in the Saudi market. However, publishing decisions promotes transparency and predictability while clarifying any ambiguity. Not only does this enable parties to avoid re-litigating issues previously decided, but it also provides companies with a useful roadmap to guide their ongoing compliance efforts.

I always find it energizing to visit Saudi Arabia. The energy is both infectious and palpable. The Kingdom is a lesson to the world about what human beings can do when they are united behind one positive force – in the case of Saudi, their national reform blueprint, Vision 2030. By helping solve legal problems, we are proud to play a small yet impactful role in turning that Vision into a prosperous reality.

John B. Quinn is the Chairman and Founder of Quinn, Emanuel, Urquhart and Sullivan, a 1000+ disputes law firm with offices in 35 locations around the world, including Riyadh.

Read more:

Saudi Arabia’s NEOM: $500 bln project unveils new mega resort and nature sanctuary

Saudi Arabia’s tech transformation: Embracing AI and semiconductors for a new era

Saudi Arabia launches National Biotechnology Strategy set to transform the Kingdom

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
Top Content Trending