Prince Andrew will 'probably' now get the papers on his sex assault case after the UK High Court decided to serve those papers to him, ITV News Royal Editor Chris Ship explains
US lawyers representing Virginia Giuffre, who is suing Prince Andrew for alleged sexual assault, have asked the British courts to notify the royal about the case.
It means that the Duke of York will either be served the papers from Virginia Giuffre by UK courts, or they will go from her lawyers to his. On Wednesday, the High Court accepted a request by Ms Giuffre’s legal team to formally contact the Duke of York about the civil proceedings launched in America, after first rejecting it - citing a technicality.“The lawyers acting for Ms Giuffre have now provided further information to the High Court, and the High Court has accepted the request for service under the Hague Service Convention," the court said in a statement.
“The legal process has not yet been served but the High Court will now take steps to serve under the convention unless service is arranged by agreement between the parties.”
The first pre-trial hearing was held on Monday in New York when the Duke’s lawyer Andrew B Brettler said their legal team had “significant concerns” about the civil case, and that Ms Giuffre had previously entered into a “settlement agreement” that would invalidate her case.
Mr Brettler, a Los Angeles-based lawyer, said the sexual assault lawsuit was "baseless" and "unlawful".
Despite the Duke being represented in the New York court, his team argued he had not been officially notified about the civil case – known as service of proceedings.
Under the Hague Service Convention, a treaty that governs requests between countries for evidence in civil or commercial matters, Ms Giuffre’s legal team can ask the High Court in London to formally notify Andrew about her civil action.
Lawyers for Ms Giuffre filed the civil suit against the Duke citing allegations of battery by sexual assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
In Monday's hearing, Judge Lewis A Kaplan repeatedly sought to limit the scope of the hearing to whether or not the Duke had been properly served notice of the case, and what action the court needs to take to ensure the legal papers reach him. "I have a foreign national who is being sued in the United States court and is taking the position that he hasn't been served", he said. David Boies, representing Ms Giuffre, said that the complaint had been “delivered to the last known address of the defendant”, adding the documents had also been sent “by Royal Mail”. He said he expected Andrew to challenge the claim that notice of the case has been properly served on him.
Virginia Giuffre claims she was trafficked by Andrew’s former friend, and convicted sex offender, Jeffrey Epstein, to have sex with the Duke, when she was aged 17 and a minor under US law.She is seeking unspecified damages, but there is speculation the sum could be in the millions of dollars.
The Duke does not face the prospect of an extradition hearing as this only applies to criminal charges and not civil cases. Andrew has consistently denied Ms Giuffre's claims.
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