How did Prince Andrew attempt to avoid Service?
Serving a member of the Royal Family once meant to fulfil one’s duty for Queen and Country; Prince Andrew’s latest legal entanglement has brought an entirely new meaning to this phrase.
What is Service?
Service is defined in the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) Glossary as the “steps required by rules of court to bring documents used in court proceedings to a person’s attention”, the Claim Form (and, ordinarily, accompanying Particulars of Claim) being the most important and common example of this.
It is a fundamental principle of law that any party to proceedings fully understands what they are accused of and proper service of any such relevant documentation is the precursor to ensure that this is the case.
How is Service governed?
CPR 6 is the “bible” for service and, amongst other sections, broadly covers:
- Service of the Claim Form within the jurisdiction.
- Service of documents other than the Claim Form within the UK.
- Service of documents outside of the jurisdiction.
What methods of Service are available to me?
Per CPR 7.5, the following methods are deemed to be acceptable means of service:
- Any service providing for delivery on the next business day to the appropriate address e.g. first class post or document exchange.
- Delivery of the document to or leaving it at the appropriate address e.g. registered business address of the Defendant company.
- Personal service e.g. serving directly on the relevant individual per CPR 6.5(3).
- Other electronic method e.g. email.
In practice, service will often occur on a party’s solicitor but this needs to have been authorised by the recipient solicitors per CPR 6.7(1). Accordingly, there is no automatic presumption that serving a solicitor is effective service.
How do I serve into England & Wales?
In Prince Andrew’s case, CPR 6.50 – 6.52 enshrine the rules regarding service of foreign proceedings in England & Wales. They relate to proceedings originating from a country that is a party to the Hague Service Convention (of which there are 89 member states; the United States of America, Russia and the European Union being example member states), where there is a bilateral service convention or even where there is no service convention at all. In all such cases, the request for service must be made to the Senior Master at the Foreign Process Section at the Royal Courts of Justice.
How were the US Proceedings served on Prince Andrew?
The background facts to the allegations made by Virginia Giuffre need no introduction. It was, however, the Duke of York’s actions that were somewhat stealing the headlines during a month-long saga involving Ms Giuffre’s legal team attempting service on any lawyer that had previously represented him. Email-auto replies, courier receipts and even hiring a private investigator in an attempt to serve him personally ensued but to no avail.
Despite the above repeated attempts and even commenting that the situation was akin to a “game of hide and seek behind palace walls”, Judge Lewis Kaplan was not, in the first instance, convinced that service had been effected as Mr Brettler, the defence attorney for Prince Andrew who had initially attended a telephone hearing on the Prince’s behalf, had claimed that he was not authorised to accept service.
Judge Kaplan later held that “service on [Prince Andrew’s] US counsel is reasonably calculated to bring the papers served to [his] attention, regardless of whether his US counsel is ‘authorised’ to accept service on his behalf” and also remarked that there is a “pretty high degree of certainty that [Prince Andrew] can be served sooner or later.” In saying so, he acknowledged that if Mr Brettler continued to be obstructive in Ms Giuffre’s team serving the Prince, then a formal request under the Hague Convention would be made.
A joint filing in the US District Court in Manhattan shows that service was agreed between the parties to have been effected on 21 September 2021. This was further to Master Fontaine of the High Court in England and Wales confirming that she received a valid request for service into the jurisdiction from New York and enclosing a certificate of service in a letter dated 1 October 2021.
Prince Andrew’s lawyers have stated that Ms Giuffre signed away her right to any claims against their client in 2009, having settled any such claims against the now-dead financier Jeffrey Epstein and anyone else connected to him which, they argue, extends to Prince Andrew. The Prince’s legal team have had access to this settlement agreement since 6 October 2021 but it is otherwise confidential and sealed by a Court; it seems that unsealing this document will be the next battle before the Prince may be required to give evidence in Court in the Autumn of 2022.
The provisions of CPR 6, and particularly rules related to serving out of the jurisdiction, are exceptionally extensive and technical.
This article is provided by Burlingtons for general information only. It is not intended to be and cannot be relied upon as legal advice or otherwise. If you would like to discuss any of the matters covered in this article, please contact Dominic Holden or write to us using the contact form below.