JEDDAH: The Ministry of Justice will permit women lawyers to practice the legal profession like their male counterparts from early next month.
The expert’s committee of the Council of Ministers sent to the ministry on Saturday the statutes governing entry of women lawyers to Saudi courts, where only men lawyers were allowed in the past.
According to a source, qualified women lawyers can approach the ministry to obtain the mandatory license to practice their profession.
“The statutes, which were drafted by the ministry and submitted for the approval of the experts’ committee, are expected to be implemented when the courts reopen after the Eid holidays,” Al-Watan daily reported quoting an informed source on Tuesday.
The new lawyers’ regulations do not differentiate between men and women practitioners of the profession, another source at the Saudi Human Rights Commission said.
“The statutes explain the existing system in Saudi courts and other judicial institutions. The statutes never distinguished between men and women in procedural matters,” the source said.
It added that the entry of women lawyers to the Saudi courts was awaiting the drafting of special terms and conditions for them to practice the profession.
The original proposal of the ministry, which was submitted to the experts’ committee earlier, stipulated that a woman should have a special and closed office, should deal with only women clients, and should not present cases directly at courts.
“The experts’ committee, on the other hand, discarded any distinction between lawyers on the basis of gender and decided to implement the same regulation to all,” the source said.
This means a woman lawyer can run her office with or without branch offices and serve male and female clients, as men lawyers have been doing. According to the existing regulations, a lawyer should inform the ministry the address of her office. However, she will have to face penal measures like her male counterparts when she commits any violation of the professional rules.
“The primary condition to obtain a lawyer’s license, for men or women, is to have a degree in the Shariah, other legal specializations or legal systems, or a diploma in legal studies issued by the Institute of Management after a university degree.
The conditions also include apprenticeship of three-year duration at an accredited lawyer’s office. It is also recommended that he or she should be experienced in teaching jurisprudence and principle of Islamic law in the universities, made postgraduate studies at other educational institutions in the Kingdom, or acquired experience in legal consultancy in international firms or in the Kingdom. Experience such as representing a client at the public prosecutor’s office or investigation agencies or the public notary offices will also be counted as additional qualifications to be eligible for the license.