Due to the increasing population and increased awareness of health matters, the number of complaints and claims against healthcare providers and physicians has resulted in an upward trend of medical malpractice litigation.

Medical malpractice litigation in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia’s legal system is based on the principles of Islamic (Shariá) law that are, in general, applied in a more conservative and strict manner than other countries within the Middle East. There is no doctrine of binding precedent, nor comprehensive reporting of cases as would be the case in common law jurisdictions. Higher court decisions in Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries are persuasive, but not binding (in contrast to others such as England).

A specialist forum, the Insurance Committee, was established in 2007 for the resolution of any insurance disputes on coverage matters.

Pursuant to the Law of Practicing Healthcare Professions, a specialist panel, the Sharia Medical Panel, was established to consider claims in respect of medical malpractice.

Cases in Saudi Arabia are ordinarily heard before a judge and there are no jury trials in Saudi Arabia, but the Sharia Medical Panel is made up of legal and medical experts.

Litigation culture in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the approach to damages awards: As a general proposition, Saudi Arabia is not as litigious as more developed jurisdictions, such as the UK or USA. There has, however, been a noticeable increase in the tendency to resort to litigation.

The tendency with damages awards has been for the courts not to award significant (by western standards) awards over and above the statutory Diyah and indemnity levels. Diyah is the remedy prescribed for wrongful death; Arsh is compensation prescribed for loss of an organ or bodily injury. Diyah payment is presently set by statute and the maximum is SAR300,000. Arsh is similarly payable based on injury to or the loss of a specific body part which depends on the seriousness of the loss/injury up to a maximum which is below the level of Diyah. The current blood money amount is SAR300,000 (US$80,000) for a male Muslim, though this may be doubled during the pilgrimage (hajj). The limit for female Muslims is 50 percent of this figure, and persons of all other religions: 25 percent.

We set out below a few examples of awards which have been made publically available:
• Two doctors were found guilty for causing the death of a child and fined SAR112,000;
• A doctor was found guilty of causing defects for six children during circumcision and fined SAR100,000 in addition to six months in jail and cancellation of their licence; and
• Two doctors were found guilty for the death of a baby and fined SAR330,000.
Although larger awards are starting to be seen, from our experience, the courts are still far more conservative in awarding damages than may be the case in more developed jurisdictions.
Principles applicable to claims for medical liability: The Law of Practicing Healthcare Professions specifically provides that healthcare professionals will be liable in the event they commit malpractice causing harm to a patient.

Standard of care: Under the Law of Practicing Healthcare Professions, a healthcare professional is obliged to “exert due care in line with commonly established professional standards”. This is therefore an objective standard.

Criminal liability: The law also sets out the fines and punishment in respect of criminal liability. A healthcare professional can be subject to imprisonment (not exceeding six months) and/or a fine not exceeding SAR100,000 for breaches of the law including:
• Practising healthcare without a licence;
• Providing false information or using unlawful means resulting in obtaining a licence to practise healthcare; and
• Unjustifiably declining to treat a patient.

Disciplinary liability: Any healthcare professional who defaults in performing any duty provided for in the Law of Practicing Healthcare Professions, violates any codes of practice or acts contrary to professional conduct or ethics shall be subject to disciplinary actions, which can include a warning, a fine (not exceeding SAR10,000) and revocation of their licence.

Summary: In general, the lack of certainty regarding damages means the litigation risk is significantly higher in Saudi Arabia compared with other jurisdictions. In comparison, however, the level of damages awards remains much lower than in those jurisdictions which means the uncertainties will affect both parties.

Abdulaziz A. Al-Bosaily Law Office
in association with Clyde & Co LLP

Tel: (966) 11 200 8817
Fax: (966) 11 200 8558
Email: wayne.jones@clydeco.com
shabnam.karim@clydeco.com
louise.mcdonald@clydeco.ae
Website: www.clydeco.com

Related Articles by Firm
UAE share pledges – a secure solution?
Under the previous UAE Commercial Companies Law (1984 Law) there was considerable debate amongst lawyers as to whether a shareholder in a UAE limited liability company (LLC) was able …
UAE workplace study 2015
Clyde & Co has launched its 2015 UAE Workplace Study. This is the first workplace study completed by Clyde & Co in the UAE and, in ...
UAE Insurance Authority Report review
The UAE Insurance Authority has recently released its Annual Statistical Report for the Insurance Sector in the United Arab Emirates for 2014. The report provides a comprehensive overview of the (re) ...
New Dubai fundraising law – what educational institutions need to know
A new decree has been issued in Dubai regulating fundraising in the Emirate of Dubai (Dubai Decree No. 9 of 2015). In summary, the law states that approval must be sought from the Dubai Islamic Affairs ...
A lesson in trademark protection
Educational establishments work hard to build reputations as trusted and leading education providers within local communities and globally. Investing in trademark protection can ensure that exclusive ...
The United Arab Emirates Space Agency and race to Mars
With the official launch of the United Arab Emirates Space Agency on May 26, 2015 and as the UAE aspires to launch the probe ...
New Commercial Companies Law – impact on foreign investment
The issue of the new commercial companies law (Federal Law No. 2 of 2015) (the Law) was announced by the UAE …
Abu Dhabi Global Market – Draft Company Law Framework
In January 2015, the Board of the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) published drafts of various key regulations as part of a formal public consultation. Clyde & Co has …
UAE Competition Law – Executive Regulations now published
The executive regulations (Regulations) in relation to the UAE competition law came into force on October 27, 2014. This article examines some practical implications of the merger control provisions. …
Arbitration agreements – a clause for concern
When drafting dispute resolution clauses, parties typically focus on the law governing the contract and, where such clauses provide for arbitration, the curial law (or procedural law of the seat) …
Qatar national health insurance scheme update
Qatar’s National Vision 2030 sets out the Qatari government’s (the Government) goal of improving the health of Qatar’s population by developing a world class and integrated health care system. In …
Saudi Arabia removes barriers to infrastructure contracting
With projects such as the US$20 billion Riyadh Metro, the Saudi Arabian government is implementing one of the most ambitious infrastructure programmes in the world. Notwithstanding this, some international …
Coping with change: the importance of a plan
In the context of family businesses, a number of which are run by a single person, ignoring the ramifications of, and failing to plan for change could put the future of the family business in jeopardy in the …
The Engineering Law, as amended – Summary
As Qatar’s business sector continues to mobilise itself to achieve the goals of Qatar’s 2030 Vision and in particular to prepare for FIFA …
The Nitiqat system – Increasing the quantity and quality of employment for KSA nationals
Since August 2011, the KSA Ministry of Labour has embarked on an ambitious program to create jobs for KSA nationals. Nitiqat is now well known amongst KSA employers who …
Selling products in the UAE – opportunity or minefield?
With its oil wealth and strong demand for all manner of industrial and consumer goods, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is an attractive …
The Engineering Law, as amended – Interpretation
As Qatar’s business sector continues to mobilise itself to achieve the goals of Qatar’s 2030 Vision and in particular to prepare for FIFA 2022, the legal regime applicable to engineering and architectural …
Opening up the Saudi stock exchange to foreign non-GCC investors
Following the recent decision by the Council of Ministers’ to open up the Saudi stock exchange (the Tadawul) to certain non-GCC investors, we take a closer look at the current status …
Military service for all male nationals between 18 and 30 years of age
On June 7th, 2014, the president of the UAE introduced a law providing for compulsory military service for all male Emiratis between the ages of 18 and 30. The law will come into effect 180 days from its …
Working practices during Ramadan and Eid
This year the Holy Month of Ramadan started on June 28th, in the State of Qatar with the sighting of the new crescent moon (hilal) and will continue until the crescent moon is sighted again, and Eid Al-Fitr is announced, …
Prohibition on market manipulation and insider trading
Both the Capital Markets Law (the CML), which came into force in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (the KSA) on February 21st, 2004 and the Market Conduct Regulations (the MCR) issued by the Board of the …
The future for arbitration in Dubai
The future for arbitration in Dubai just got brighter with the recent announcement that a new Arbitration Institute is to be established in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC). …
Key amendments introduced as UAE Anti-Commercial Fraud Law progresses towards enactment
Following the passage of the draft UAE Anti-Commercial Fraud Law through the Federal National Council on 4 March 2014, further amendments have been made to the draft Law as it progresses …
The new SAMA Insurance Dispute Committee Rules in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
On March 10th, 2014, the Board of Ministers formally approved the ‘Rules and Regulations for the Operation of the Committees for the Resolution of Insurance Disputes and Violations’, described in the following …
QFC Tax Consultation: Proposed amendments to the Tax Regulations and the Tax Rules
Please note that all definitions in this article are as per the Tax Regulations (as defined) unless otherwise stated and Article references are to the Articles of the Regulations …
Global mobility considerations in Abu Dhabi
Managing an internationally mobile workforce can be challenging, particularly as home country and host country laws can be vastly different. Below are some issues to consider. …
Saudi Arbitration Law 2012 – an update
In April 2012, Saudi Arabia enacted a new Arbitration Law (2012 Law), which was a major step forward for commerce in the Kingdom. Two years later, it is timely to consider steps taken since and the …
Regulation of Nursery Schools in Qatar
In February 2014 Law No. 1 of 2014 (the Law) took effect. The Law will regulate the process of licencing, and the operation of nursery schools in Qatar. The Law gives the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs …
UAE Anti-Commercial Fraud Law passes through Federal National Council
On March 4th, 2014, a new law aimed at combating counterfeit goods and other forms of commercial fraud passed through the UAE’s Federal National Council (FNC). …
Migrant Welfare Charters
As Qatar prepares to host the one of the biggest sporting events in world, the Fifa world cup 2022, working conditions of expatriate workers are a priority. Human Development is one of the five pillars of …
Choice of governing law and jurisdiction
We recently undertook an extensive survey analysing data from a number of regional M&A and joint venture deals in 2012 (Deal Study). …
Saudi Arabia Implements the Employment Interruption Insurance
On July 1st, 2013, the Saudi Shura Council met and approved a draft Law in relation to Employment Interruption Insurance (the EIIL). …
Qatar Labour Law: termination of employment
Law No. (14) of 2004 (Labour Law) sets out the ways in which an employee’s employment can be terminated. Employment may be …
Learning from experience: Delivering a successful Expo
The construction sector within Dubai has been steadily on the rise since the beginning of 2012, and industry sentiment prior to the Expo …
Labour reform firmly on the Government’s agenda
Alongside its introduction of the Nitiquat system in August 2011 (designed to promote the employment of KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) …
Proposed amendments to QFC Authority Regulations
As part of its commitment to creating a strong and transparent legal and regulatory environment for its firms, the QFC Authority (‘QFCA’) issued …
The national natural gas policy of Tanzania
In this briefing we review the evolution of Tanzania’s first National Natural Gas Policy over the last year, evaluate the key final terms and consider likely next steps.
Structure of the construction industry in Tanzania
A look at the structure of the construction industry in Tanzania, focusing on: key legislation and gov't bodies; registration of foreign contractors; appointing sub-contractors or engineers; and the challenges facing the industry.
Environmental management regulations on mining
A look at the environmental management regulations in the mining sector in Tanzania.
Developments in the information security landscape in the UAE
Businesses and governments collect, store and process increasing amounts of information. That information is often highly confidential …
An introduction to investment arbitration and its application in relation to the KSA
In recent years the Saudi government has raised its capital project expenditure, as well as reformed elements of its laws, to assist …
Qatar Labour Law: end of service
Qatar Law No.(14) of 2004, the Labour Law, governs the terms of employment of the majority of individuals currently working in the State of …
Cyber security: New measures for the public sector – A challenge facing us all
The world now spends more than 110 billion minutes on social networks per month. It is estimated that 60 percent of all internet …
Saudi Arabia accedes to PCT: impact on patent filing strategies
Saudi Arabia’s accession to the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) and to the Patent Law Treaty (PLT) in August 2013 is a prompt for businesses filing …
Qatar’s “Press Law”
Law No.(8) of 1979 regulates the media in Qatar (Law). A draft of a new law was released in June 2012 by the Government, but this has …
US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act and its relevance for Tanzanian financial institutions
Following the implementation of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) by the United States government in 2010, financial institutions around the world will be obliged to disclose any US citizen account holders’ names, addresses…
Tanzania’s 4th offshore licensing round: guidance for participants
As private talks continue between IOCs already operating in Tanzania and the government surrounding the development of recent major gas finds…
Royalty payments for mining operations in Tanzania
In this month’s mining briefing we consider the obligations upon mining companies to pay royalties to the Government of Tanzania (the GOT),…
Public private partnerships in Tanzania: the new regime explained
This is the first of the monthly projects and construction briefings which Clyde & Co aims to publish on the legal and regulatory framework,…
Study reveals Middle East M&A and JV trends
Across the Middle East, it is apparent that increasingly streamlined and sophisticated corporate legal regimes are being implemented by …
Saudi Arabia visa amnesty update
Earlier this year, the Ministry of Labour (MoL) in Saudi Arabia (KSA) launched a series of surprise labour inspections designed to root out …
Lifting or piercing the corporate veil
Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) established pursuant to Law No.(5) of 2002 as amended (the Companies Law) are the most …
Energy: Tanzania's “Big Results Now!” initiative
July witnessed the launch of two schemes aiming to have a profound impact on Tanzania’s energy sector. Following U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to the country at the beginning of the month as part of the launch ...
Consultants’ fee claims to be time-barred
As the fifth anniversary of the onset of the financial crisis approaches, consultants to the construction industry should be …
DIFC Court jurisdiction: constitutional and inter-Emirate issues
On April 30th, 2013 the DIFC Court of First Instance accepted jurisdiction over a dispute between a DIFC-based reinsurer and an Abu Dhabi …
Saudi renewable energy sector: entry considerations
The Saudi government intends to build a sizeable renewable energy sector to exploit its wind and solar potential. The intention of this …
Qatar Labour Law: Who is excluded?
The provisions of Qatar Law No.(14) of 2004, the Labour Law, govern the employment of the majority of individuals employed in …
Managing the risks of social media
The benefits of social media to a business are far reaching in their scope as it presents businesses with an effective marketing tool and potential …
New draft Anti-Counterfeit Law in the UAE
Brand owners are welcoming a new draft law (the Law) aimed at combating commercial fraud and counterfeit goods in the United Arab Emirates …
Clyde & Co's Middle East Deal Study 2015
Law firm Clyde & Co recently published its second Middle East Deal Study. Based on the firm's analysis of data from M&A and JV transactions on which they worked in the region over the last 18 ...
Clyde & Co’s Middle East Deal Study 2015
ASIAN-MENA COUNSEL is delighted to present a summary of Clyde & Co’s second Middle East Deal Study, the full version of which can be found on their website at the bottom of this article.
Clyde & Co's Middle East Deal Study 2015
Law firm Clyde & Co recently published its second Middle East Deal Study. Based on the firm's analysis of data from M&A and JV transactions on which they worked in the region over the last 18 ...
Related Articles
The Greater China IP Updates – April 2022
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company continues to lead against its competitors in the IP field. Currently, the company is using its advanced 5-nanometer process in the commercial production of the A-series processors for Apple’s iPhone line. TSMC is also involved ...
Related Articles by Jurisdiction
Latest Articles