Due to Islamic Law sensitivities, Saudi Arabian statutes are referred to as “regulations”, rather than “laws” or “acts”. Pursuant to the Council of Ministers Regulation, Royal Order No. A/3 of 20th Muharram 1414 Hejra corresponding to 9th July 1993 Gregorian, Council of Ministers Resolutions and Royal Decrees must be published in the Official Gazette (Umm Al Qura) in order to be effective.
Royal Orders may be published in the Official Gazette, but do not need to be so published in order to have the force of law. Some ministerial resolutions and other delegated legislation are published in the Official Gazette, while more recently some governmental authorities have begun to publish delegated legislation on their websites. On the other hand, some ministerial resolutions and other delegated legislation are not published, formally or otherwise.
In theory, if there is a conflict between the regulations and Islamic Law, such regulations would be void to the extent of the conflict. However, because all new legislation is examined prior to enactment by the Supreme Council of the Senior Ulama, a government body of senior religious scholars, in practice conflicts between regulations and Islamic Law are extremely rare.
Most Saudi Arabian regulations grant the ministry or the government agency within whose sphere of competence a given regulation falls the power to issue delegated legislation in the form of implementing rules. In fact, much of the detail of modern Saudi Arabian legislation is contained in such implementing rules. Ministries and government agencies also have the power to issue interpretative circulars, not all of which are published or made available to the public.
*This Saudi Arabian Law Overview is not intended to be legal advice, and cannot be relied on as a substitute for legal advice. We make no representation that the contents of this Saudi Arabian Law Overview are or will remain accurate or current.
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