[JURIST] King Abdullah [official profile] of Saudi Arabia has announced a plan to create a supreme court for the country, as well as new appeals and general courts. The new supreme court will replace the current Supreme Judicial Council, which will be relegated to handling issues involving judicial salaries and staffing under a new administrative supreme court. The changes are designed to support increasing codification of Saudi laws and standardization in sentencing.
Saudi courts currently base their rulings on Islamic Sharia law [CFR backgrounder; JURIST news archive], but where religious doctrine defines no specific punishment for an offense, judges can interpret the law as they see fit. Critics of the system have recently focused on seemingly inconsistent decisions imposing light sentences for some serious crimes and harsh ones for lesser offenses. BBC News has more. ArabianBusiness.com (UAE) has regional coverage.