Women's Rights

Saudi women join nascent profession of private notary

By Sultan al-Barei in Riyadh

The Saudi Ministry of Justice has recently granted 12 Saudi women licenses to practice the profession of private notary. [Photo circulated online]

The Saudi Ministry of Justice has recently granted 12 Saudi women licenses to practice the profession of private notary. [Photo circulated online]

After a Ministry of Justice decision this month allowing Saudi women to become private notaries, 12 women have joined the nascent profession.

The decision, which was first announced in March, came into effect on July 9th when 12 Saudi women obtained their private notary licenses for the first time in the kingdom's history.

As private notaries, the women can now issue and cancel powers of attorney and certify documents to help establish companies or transfer property rights, the ministry said.

The private notarisation service was first introduced in Saudi Arabia last February, with some 1,300 individuals obtaining notary licenses since then.

Private notaries can perform their work online, using an integrated digital system, said Yasser al-Muhanna, lecturer at the Faculty of Economics and Management at Qassim University.

They have a flexible work schedule and can travel to complete the required tasks, which will facilitate the conduct of many transactions, he told Al-Mashareq.

"The private notary job is an initiative that falls under the Ministry of Justice’s National Transition Plan 2020 to improve the effectiveness of notarisation functions," he said.

Accepted applicants undergo a training course to enable them to use job-related online programmes with ease, he said, as most of their work will be conducted online, via the ministry's website.

"With this measure, the kingdom is steadily moving towards the implementation of the National Transition Plan 2020, particularly in terms of increasing the participation of women in the labour market from 22% to 30%," said Mahmoud Salem, a professor at Imam Muhammad ibn Saud University.

The women that were chosen for this round of application are located in Jeddah, Riyadh, Mecca and al-Qassim, he told Al-Mashareq.

"This distribution allows the largest number of citizens possible to benefit from their services," he noted.

Women will gain legal experience

The private notary occupation will "contribute to enhancing the capabilities of female lawyers in the kingdom", Saudi lawyer Suheir al-Saleh, who is pursuing a doctorate degree at Cairo University, told Al-Mashareq.

"All women who obtain the license are lawyers and some actually practice the profession out of private offices or the offices of other lawyers," she said.

"It is wonderful that women can now perform their role as lawyers and private notaries, and drive their own cars to meet a male or female customer and conduct the transaction," she added.

Women's entry into this field will have positive reverberations on them breaking into the judicial, legal and human rights branches of government, al-Saleh said.

Notarisation work will give women wider experience in legal matters and personal and civil status laws, as well as matters related to companies, inheritance and divorce, she said.

"All of this will in the near future open doors for them to come to prominence in courts and at prosecution offices," she said.

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