Clifford Chance launches mixed Saudi Arabia partnership

Clifford Chance has established a partnership in Saudi Arabia by transferring longstanding co-operation firm Al-Jadaan’s two partner transactional practice into the firm.

The joint Saudi and foreign owned law firm has opened with 30 Saudi and foreign lawyers.

The new five partner team includes two partners from its longstanding co-operation firm Al-Jadaan & Partners, banking lawyer Abdulaziz Al-Abduljabbar and corporate and capital markets specialist Khalid Al-Abdulkareem. Both are Saudi-qualified and will own the required 25 per cent of the local business.

English-qualified banking lawyer Tim Plews and corporate and capital markets lawyer Omar Rashid are also joining the team as well as banking lawyer Paul Latto. 

Both Rashid and Latto were seconded to Al-Jadaan in 2011 and appointed heads of their respective practices. Plews – the most senior figure in the office – was seconded to the firm in 2010 (16 May 2011).

Clifford Chance was granted regulatory approval to set up a mixed partnership in Saudi Arabia in March 2013 (6 March 2013), claiming to be the first to take up the opportunity.

The rules permit up to 75 per cent of a law firm operating in Saudi to be owned by a foreign person or organisation though the 25 per cent Saudi potion must be under the control of a Saudi-qualified national.

Mohammed Al-Jadaan remains managing partner of Al-Jadaan and, together with the Al-Jadaan team, will now focus on litigation, mediation, legal strategies and structuring focused advice. Mohammed will continue to support Clifford Chance in his role as special adviser.

In the past year, the team has advised on some the largest Saudi deals including the SAR15.2 bn GACA sukuk and SAR475 m Dallah Healthcare IPO.

The move marks another first for Clifford Chance, which was the first foreign firm to submit a preliminary application to launch in South Korea and mulled a merger with Australia’s Mallesons Stephen Jaques well before most firms were sniffing around the region.

In October the first Saudi Arabian woman lawyer to be allowed to appear in the country’s courts and open her own law firm was awarded a licence by the authorities (8 October 2013).