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Prince Andrew to be served with legal papers – what will happen next in the Guiffre saga?

Prince Andrew: Expert on High Court’s acceptance of request

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Virginia Giuffre, 38, is sueing the Duke of York for allegedly sexually assaulting her when she was a teenager and is seeking currently unspecified damages. Ms Giuffre has claimed she was assaulted by the prince at the London home of Mr Epstein’s associate Ghislaine Maxwell, and at Mr Epstein’s homes in Manhattan and Little Saint James, in the US Virgin Islands. Prince Andrew has consistently denied all the allegations against him.

But the case is far from over on both sides, and are made more complicated by the numerous locations the assaults allegedly took place in.

A judge has now ruled that Prince Andrew’s US lawyer can be served with the legal papers, and it is understood his team are contesting the court’s decision.

The High Court said in a statement: “Lawyers for Prince Andrew have indicated that they may seek to challenge the decision of the High Court to recognise the validity of the Hague Convention request for service made by Ms Giuffre’s lawyers.

“The High Court has directed that any challenge must be made by close of business on September 24.”

The serving of documents is the critical first stage in any claim for damages – it means that a defendant has been made fully aware of the allegations against them by receiving all of the papers in the case.

If a defendant does not take part in the case after they have been served, they risk an automatic loss.

The issue of whether or not Andrew had been properly notified about the case – known as service of proceedings – was contested during the first pre-trial hearing of the civil case on Monday in New York.

David Boies, representing Ms Giuffre, said papers had been “delivered to the last known address of the defendant” and documents had also been sent “by Royal Mail”.

Andrew B Brettler, lawyer for the Duke of York, said his team contested the validity of service to date, adding he had not been properly served under either UK or international law.

What happens now?

Now, complex legal proceedings will take place should the prince’s contesting of the court’s decision fail.

Malcolm Johnson, Solicitor at Lime Solicitors, explains the difficult legal precedent ahead of the Duke and Ms Guiffre.

He said: ”The real issue is jurisdiction. The allegations against Prince Andrew relate to incidents that took place in London, New York and the US Virgin Islands.

“Prince Andrew is an English Defendant, although the person suing him is a US citizen.

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“So the question is which court deals with the claim, and which law do they apply?”

This early on in the case, it is currently unknown whether the case will be heard in the US or in the UK – two of the locations where the alleged assault took place.

Mr Johnson continues: ”One of the arguments in favour of an English court dealing with the case is where the Defendant is “domiciled” in England, ie he lives here.

“It can also be established where the ‘harmful’ event occurs in the UK – in this case one of the allegations of assault apparently took place in England, but not the others.

“There is then the question of which law would apply. This is a very complex legal question, but both English and US court can use a mixture of laws.

“Briefly an English court will apply English procedural law to all procedural matters for instance, service of the proceedings.

“In relation to the law to be applied during the trial, the substantive law ie the evidence or the amount of damages, this depends on a number of factors, including the issue of where the incidents actually occurred, the nationality of the person who caused the harm, and the nationality of the person who suffered the harm.

“If Prince Andrew’s lawyers can argue that an English court should deal with the matter and English law should apply, this has a number of consequences for the claimant.”

Both the defendant and the prosecution could come up against some significant hurdles in the case if it goes through in the UK, where Prince Andrew lives.

Mr Johnson continued: “Firstly the claimant will come up against the law of limitation, which in England is three years from a person’s 18th birthday or the incident in question.

“It is possible to get a court to waive limitation, but under English law, limitation is a formidable obstacle.

“Secondly English law hands out much less in the way of damages, than a US court would.”

If Prince Andrew is tried in a US court, he could be subject to a jury, explains Mr Johnson – something the duke is unlikely to want.

He said: “Thirdly in the US, cases of this nature are normally tried by a jury – in England, jury trial in civil claims are very rare indeed.

“In an English court, it would be a High Court judge dealing with the matter, not a jury – an English Defendant might feel more comfortable with a judge, rather than a jury.”

“Finally there is an enforcement issue. Even if the claimant in this case gets a judgment in a New York Court, there is no “reciprocal enforcement agreement” between the US and the UK (whereas there is with other countries).

“That doesn’t mean that a US judgment can’t be enforced in England and there are ways of achieving that.

“However, it looks as though the issue of jurisdiction will be the next argument in this case.”

The saga surrounding Prince Andrew was brought to a head in 2019 during his interview with the BBC’s Emily Maitlis, widely regarded to have been a PR disaster for the Duke.

The Duke denied having ever met Ms Guiffre and went as far to claim the widely circulated photograph of them together was manipulated.

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