A Saudi Arabian prince who said that he was prevented by ‘protocol’ from engaging in extraordinarily bitter commercial litigation in London has been landed with a multi-million-dollar bill as a consequence of his failure to co-operate with the legal process.
Two foreign companies had launched petitions against each other under the Companies Act 2006 in a case which involved allegations and counter-allegations of money laundering, financial misappropriation and funding of terrorism. Various individuals were also parties to the litigation, including the prince.
He was directed by a judge to disclose evidence in a sworn statement. However, he objected to that order on the basis that, as a member of the Saudi royal family, he was forbidden from participating in the litigation personally or from signing any court documents. On that basis, he failed to comply with a series of court directions and ultimately had summary judgment entered against him for $6 million.
In rejecting his final appeal against that decision by a majority, the Supreme Court found that the orders made against him were ‘individually unassailable’ and that the strength or weakness of his defence to the claim was ‘generally irrelevant’. Personal signatures on sworn statements were normally required; the importance of litigants obeying court orders was self-evident and the consequences of the prince’s lack of compliance were not disproportionate.