INTERNATIONAL law firm King & Wood Mallesons SJ Berwin has entered into an exclusive association with the Law Office of Majed Almarshad to open an office in Riyadh, marking the first time that a global law firm headquartered in Asia has established a permanent presence in Saudi Arabia.
“Infrastructure construction is a key industry in Saudi Arabia, so it was obvious to us that we should lead with our construction services when we were planning the establishment of the Riyadh practice,” said Almarshad, a Saudi qualified senior corporate lawyer.
Stuart Jordan is co-head of the firm’s construction group in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), based largely in Dubai, UAE, and supporting the firm’s work across the Middle East.
On the reason for the expansion, he said: “Apart from the increased activity levels, the approach to legal issues here has changed so much. In the boom years, we saw that there wasn’t always much appetite in the industry for producing good and suitable contracts.
“It was thought that the sheer amount of money around would wash through any problems. That didn’t hold once the downturn came and the parties got the contracts out of the drawer. Today, the situation in the region is similar to other mature markets and I don’t see a return to the old ways.
“Once people have seen the dangers of documents with unclear terms and unpredictable outcomes, they will always want to draft and negotiate carefully.
“It’s perhaps good news for lawyers but it’s also a challenge now that the industry expects international standard construction services.”
(King & Wood Mallesons SJ Berwin will soon be contributing a monthly column for Gulf Construction magazine’s legal section.)