Dimah Talal Alsharif



Recent cases show Saudis breaking a societal taboo

Submitted by romulo on Mon, 2019-05-13 01:56

Sexual harassment is a sensitive topic that many communities avoid talking about, especially in the Middle East. This sensitivity leads to many victims remaining silent, especially since the offense can be difficult to prove. However, in Saudi Arabia sexual harassment has a clear definition in law, there are penalties for offenders, and there are legal efforts to combat it.

Thanks to social media, incidents of sexual harassment in the last two days were immediately forwarded to the public prosecutor’s office, and the necessary measures were taken to arrest the offenders.

In September 2017, King Salman ordered the introduction of a system to combat sexual harassment, and draft legislation was approved by the Shoura Council and the Cabinet in May 2018. Under Saudi law, sexual harassment is any statement, act or sign with a sexual connotation inflicted by one person on another in relation to the victim’s body or their modesty, by any means.

Offenders may be imprisoned for up to two years and / or fined up to SR100,000 ($26,664.5). If the crime is repeated, offenders face five years in prison and / or a fine of SR300,000. Article 7 of the law imposes the same punishment on anyone who incites, agrees with, justifies or supports the harasser in any way, including on social media.

One of the clauses in the law excludes the possibility of exempting a perpetrator from punishment, even with the victim’s agreement. This will help curb financial bargains to waive the complaint, and deter cover-up attempts. The system takes into account women’s privacy by maintaining the confidentiality of their identity and personal data.

 

Dimah Talal Alsharif is a Saudi legal consultant, head of the health law department at the law firm of Majed Garoub, and a member of the International Association of Lawyers.

Twitter: @dimah_alsharif

Publication Date: 
Sunday, May 12, 2019 - 23:54
thespace author: 

Dimah Talal Alsharif

Dimah Talal Alsharif is a Saudi legal counsel and a member of the International Association of Lawyers.

Twitter: @dimah_alsharif

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Trouble with your work contract? Here’s what you need to know

Submitted by Sajjadkk on Tue, 2018-05-01 02:00

When I first joined the Arab News family, I was keen to take the pulse of the people around me about the legal topics that concerned them and significantly affected their lives. One of the most controversial issues was labor rights and contracts.

Saudi labor law is to a large extent employee friendly, although it can be a bit complex. The main reason most employees consult it is to obtain information about terminating an employment contract, and how to calculate the end-of-service benefit.

Employment contracts are either fixed term or indefinite. Non-Saudi employees must have a fixed-term contract; if the term is not specified in the contract, it ends automatically when the employee’s work permit expires.

Obviously, fixed-term contracts expire naturally, but they may be renewed for an agreed period. If a contract is renewed three times, it automatically becomes an indefinite contract.

A fixed-term contract may also be terminated at any time by mutual consent, in writing, while ensuring that all financial rights are fulfilled. Of course, force majeure and reaching retirement age may also be reasons for termination. I strongly advise employees to avoid unpleasant surprises by ensuring that the text of the contract explicitly provides for a notice period, and specifies the intention to renew or not.

An indefinite contract may be terminated for any legitimate reason, which must be explained to the other party in writing at least two months in advance. The penalty for failure by either party to give due notice — payment of the salary equivalent for the relevant period — is substantial, to protect the interests of both parties.

When a contract is broken for an unlawful reason, the other party is entitled to compensation of a half-month’s salary for each year of service of the employee, plus the salary of the remaining period of the contract, where applicable. The minimum compensation is two months’ salary. I recommend including the amount of compensation in the contract to ensure that both parties are committed and obliged.

The law clearly states the circumstances in which an employee is entitled to terminate his contract without notice, while retaining his statutory rights. These include failure by the employer to fulfill his contractual duties and responsibilities; if assigned tasks are completely different from those agreed upon; a significant risk to the employee’s safety, of which the employer is fully aware; and physical or verbal abuse, humiliating treatment and indignity.

Finally, end-of-service benefit — which is based on the employee’s final salary. When a fixed-term contract expires, the employee is entitled to a half-month’s salary for each of the first five years of employment, and one month’s salary for each of the following years. If the employee resigns, he is entitled to one-third of the end-of-service benefit, provided he has completed two consecutive years of employment; after five years he is entitled to two-thirds of the benefit, and after 10 years he receives the full amount. An employee is also entitled to the full end-of-service benefit in the event of force majeure; if he terminates his contract within six months of getting married; or, in the case of a new mother, within three months of the baby’s birth. This protects employees from an employer’s use of their status as an excuse for dismissal.

If an employee is paid commission, or any addition to a regular salary, the two parties may agree to exclude these amounts from the end-of-service calculation. The Ministry of Labor and Social Development, through its online portal, provides a free calculator for the end-of-service benefit after users submit the amount of salary, term of service and type of contract.

There have been cases recently of delay and procrastination in settling employees’ rights and entitlements. The law explicitly states that this process must be completed within a week of the end of a contract if it is terminated by the employer, and within two weeks if terminated by the employee.

• Dimah Talal Alsharif is a Saudi legal consultant, head of the health law department at the law firm of Majed Garoub and a member of the International Association of Lawyers. Twitter: @dimah_alsharif

Publication Date: 
Wednesday, May 2, 2018 - 00:24
thespace author: 

Dimah Talal Alsharif

Dimah Talal Alsharif is a Saudi legal counsel and a member of the International Association of Lawyers.

Twitter: @dimah_alsharif

author_image: 

Why the fight against corruption matters to every Saudi

Submitted by Mahad on Wed, 2018-04-25 04:27

A wave of reforms aimed at combating corruption has focused attention on what corruption actually is, along with the legal mechanisms and strategies employed to eliminate it.
The National Anti-Corruption Commission, Nazaha, was established in 2011 by order of the late King Abdullah. His directive was explicit — that the powers of the commission cover all sectors and government agencies without exception, regardless of anyone’s name or position.
Nazaha defines corruption as any breach of the rules imposed by a statutory regulator, or the misuse of authority or the civil service for the purpose of personal gain or exploitation. Corruption takes many forms; it need not involve only financial gain, but also covers political, functional and moral benefits. Examples would be unlawful enrichment, misuse and waste of public money, commercial fraud, money laundering and using authority or power to make money.

Saudi Arabia can also benefit from international experience and best practice in the fight against corruption — which I prefer to think of as a battle to protect political and social stability and security

Dimah Talal Alsharif


Many members of the community know about the phenomenon of corruption and the campaign against it, without being fully aware of Nazaha’s objectives, and its legal strategy to achieve them. Greater awareness of the importance of this fundamental role would contribute to society’s involvement in the battle against corruption, and to people’s knowledge of the desired aims and the methods to be used.
The commission’s job is to investigate any breaches of rules and regulations that affect the public interest; to refer these offenses to the investigating authorities and follow up with the investigation process; and to take any necessary precautionary measures. The commission has the right to report directly to the king for any further action a case may require, which reflects the seriousness with which corruption is viewed at the highest level. It also aims to monitor the recovery of funds obtained by corrupt means.  
Nazaha’s work mechanisms reflect the importance of each objective. It proposes regulations and policies required by the anti-corruption process, and provides judicial bodies with the necessary financial and human resources, expertise, training and modern scientific means to enable them to perform their tasks efficiently. It speeds up the process of resolving corruption cases and compensating those affected by them. It establishes mechanisms to protect public money, it clarifies the procedures used in particular in government procurement contracts, public institutions and joint stock companies, and it encourages the involvement of the public and the media in expressing opinions about these procedures. It also urges professionals such as lawyers, doctors and accountants to express an opinion about the applicable regulations, in addition to ensuring the free exchange of information about corruption between society and the media.
Public awareness plays a major role in the battle against corruption, so the commission expresses its policies and objectives in simple and clear language. Providing direct channels of communication with society also helps the commission to receive reports of corruption and to clarify the measures to be taken. Saudi Arabia can also benefit from international experience and best practice in the fight against corruption — which I prefer to think of as a battle to protect political and social stability and security.

• Dimah Talal Alsharif is a Saudi legal consultant, head of the health law department at the law firm of Majed Garoub and a member of the International Association of Lawyers. Twitter: @dimah_alsharif

Publication Date: 
Wednesday, April 25, 2018 - 04:23
thespace author: 

Dimah Talal Alsharif

Dimah Talal Alsharif is a Saudi legal counsel and a member of the International Association of Lawyers.

Twitter: @dimah_alsharif

author_image: 

Protecting creativity in Saudi Arabia

Submitted by Mahad on Tue, 2018-04-17 22:34

In 1982, Saudi Arabia joined the World Intellectual Property Organization after it recognized that intellectual production was important in stimulating global economic expansion and the growth of new technologies.

Over time, developing and developed countries are setting strict rules on intellectual property, not only for security or to ban infringements, but also to encourage talented artists to be more creative in the knowledge that their creations will be safe under the strict rules. 

Thus, Saudi Arabia has enacted the laws and regulations that guarantee the protection of the rights of authors, inventors, industrial design and trademarks owing to their great impact on the recent economic, cultural and social developments. Examples of such regulations are copyright law, trademarks law, and patents and trade names law. More emphasis will be placed on copyright law because of its significant impact on the content industries.

Any interested person who would like to share and produce his creative production to the public will have the right and proper understanding of the copyright. He needs to be aware of it to implement these terms in order to protect his work and to promote the culture of intellectual creativity.

The copyright is a kind of intellectual property that provides and gives exclusive usage and control of the rights to its own creator. On the other hand, if there is any copyright infringement of the protected object or right, the law will be sure to compensate the damaged party.

Saudi copyright law has become increasingly complex over the years to respond to a sophisticated communications’ environment. In this high-tech age, there are many new ways of producing creative works, and many ways of imitating or exploiting them without the creator’s permission. The photocopier, sound recorder, videocassette recorder, and personal computer digital reproduction of creative objects are just a few examples of modern devices that help creators to communicate with their audiences, but that also make it harder to control unauthorized use.

The owner of a copyright under Saudi law has the exclusive rights to reproduce his work and to manufacture and distribute copies of it. The copyright law provisions criminalize any act of issuing, copying, selling, renting, distributing, importing or exporting any classified work without permission of the owner.

As for the penalties, the violator will be penalized with a fine not exceeding SR10,000 ($2,666) or with closure of the establishment engaged in the violation for a period not exceeding 15 days, or both penalties, as well as compensation to the copyright owner for any losses or damages resulting from this infringement.

If an infringement happens again, the violator will be penalized with an increase in the fine, or the establishment may be suspended for a period not exceeding 90 days, or both penalties may be applied together.

Awareness of the importance of copyright in Saudi Arabia is improving. The role of the Internal Information Agency at the Saudi Ministry of Culture and Information needs to be more influential in taking the lead in raising awareness about intellectual property concepts. Also, the Saudi Chamber of Commerce is required to take action in raising this awareness.

 

• Dimah Talal Alsharif is a Saudi legal consultant, head of the health law department at the law firm of Majed Garoub and a member of the International Association of Lawyers. Twitter: @dimah_alsharif

Publication Date: 
Tuesday, April 17, 2018 - 22:29
thespace author: 

Dimah Talal Alsharif

Dimah Talal Alsharif is a Saudi legal counsel and a member of the International Association of Lawyers.

Twitter: @dimah_alsharif

author_image: