Event Report

On April 30th, after a long time in the making, The Legal 500 finally brought its renowned series of conferences tailored for in-house counsel – the GC Summit – to Saudi Arabia.

Hosted at the Marriott Hotel in Riyadh, the event brought together some of the country’s top corporate lawyers, leading law firms in the Middle East region and 20 esteemed guest speakers, providing a platform of the highest calibre, to tackle some of the most pivotal issues within the legal sector in Saudi Arabia.

In association with our headline sponsor, Al Tamimi & Company, along with our partners at Z&Co., Monckton Chambers, Herbert Smith Freehils and our M&A tech partner, Datasite, The Legal 500 curated a diverse agenda featuring five distinct sessions, between engaging panel discussions, informative and interactive presentations, and concise fireside chats.

The conference began with a warm welcome from Francisco Castro, representing The Legal 500’s editorial team, highlighting the significance of launching the eagerly anticipated GC Summit series in Saudi Arabia. Castro underscored the importance of uniting the in-house community, fostering collaboration with law firms, and delivering tailored, high-quality content on relevant topics, all aimed at helping enrich their practices and enhancing each attendee’s role within their companies and organisations.

Following, to offer opening remarks on the vital role of General Counsel and the entire in-house community in contributing to the continuous growth and development of Saudi Arabia, Philip Kotsis, Partner and Head of Saudi Arabia at Al Tamimi & Company, took the floor. In his speech, Kotsis eloquently elaborated on the pivotal role of legal departments in Saudi Arabia’s landscape of business and legal affairs. With a keen insight into the complexities of the region’s legal environment, Kotsis emphasised how GCs serve as the linchpin between legal compliance, strategic decision-making, and organisational integrity, underscoring their indispensable function in navigating regulatory frameworks, mitigating risks, and ensuring ethical conduct.

The first session of the day, in association with Al Tamimi & Company, explored the realm of Intellectual Property in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) with a focus on Trademarks unveils a landscape where creativity meets legal protection, through a brilliant and interactive presentation by Amad Zaza, partner, at Al Tamimi and Saleh Alhebshi, senior associate at Al Tamimi.

The second session, and the only fireside chat of the conference, brought a rapid discussion between Al Tamimi’s partners Christopher Webb, Mohammed Negm and Omar Al Humaid, on the latest developments in merger control, including new

thresholds and filing fees. We will also discuss new guidelines on the Abuse of Dominant Position, and will talk about the enforcement actions, including prosecutions and investigations.

The following session, and last before the break, in partnership with Monckton Chambers, the London-based set of barrister’s chambers, brought a brilliant discussion that explored the evolving landscape of dispute resolution as projects progress towards completion, both locally and across borders. The panel, comprised of Ewan West KC, Greg Pipe, Drew Holiner at Monckton, Sarah Gonem, from Z&Co, Fadia Mubarak, and Euan Lloyd from Al Tamimi, provided invaluable perspectives how mega-projects will operate in Saudi Arabia post Vision 2030, and the implications for dispute resolution.

After the coffee break, the series of panels continued with an exciting discussion in partnership with Z&Co, where speakers discussed the pivotal role of General Counsel in crisis management, exploring its multifaceted responsibilities in crisis situations, from strategic counsel and risk mitigation to crisis coordination and stakeholder communication. Under the guidance of Martin Creek and Sarah Gonem from Z&Co, the panel featured esteemed guest speakers: Ahmad Chit representing Quantuma International, Mohammed Al Maskati from Hanover Communications, Christian Mursad from Lucid Motors, and Kassem Younes from Ankura.

The last panel session of the conference, in association with Herbert Smith Freehills, brought together managing partner Joza Al Rasheed and Alexander Currie, both from the Riyadh office, together with Nick Oury, partner from their Dubai office, for a discussion the vibrant realm of project development in Saudi Arabia, exploring the pivotal legal landscapes shaping initiatives across diverse sectors. Speakers delved deep into the transformative legal reforms of the past year, uncovering how each stage of project execution has been profoundly influenced, providing invaluable insights and strategic perspectives on navigating the Saudi Arabian legal landscape.

Concluding the inaugural edition of the GC Summit Saudi Arabia, The Legal 500’s Francisco Castro offered a brief closing remark. Attendees were then welcomed to partake in a networking session over lunch, providing an opportunity for fruitful connections and discussions to cap off the event.

On behalf of The Legal 500, we send a profound thank you to all our key associates in the region who partnered with us for this event, and to everyone who attended the conference.

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