Saudi court says Clifford Chance is operating illegally
27 May 2016
is embroiled in Saudi court proceedings after an embittered lawyer's claim that it is operating in the Kingdom without proper authorisation was backed by the Court of Appeal.
In 2013 the Ministry of Commerce & Industry (MoCI) granted a joint office licence to Clifford Chance and local firm Al-Jadaan, allowing CC to operate in Saudi. However, a renegade former Al-Jadaan associate launched proceedings agsinst MoCI accusing it of unlawfully granting his old firm and Clifford Chance permission to operate.
And it seems he could be right. The Court of Appeal in Saudi has given a non-binding opinion that the Magic Circle firm and Al-Jadaan should have obtained a second licence, from the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority. While the case has been brought against MoCl, Clifford Chance is involved in the proceedings and appeared in court earlier this month.
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A lower court has been ordered to rehear the whole matter, leaving CC's Saudi office under something of a bureaucratic question mark. RollOnFriday understands that the firm intends to keep its Riyadh office running whatever the court outcome, and will take whatever steps are necessary to comply with the Kingdom's shifting sands of a licencing system.
Given the complications, the elite firm may be wishing it had picked the less onerous option of a local association, as favoured by most other international firms operating in the Kingdom. A spokesman declined to comment.