Clifford Chance has been replaced by Irwin Mitchell in a High Court battle that two Saudi princes are attempting to keep out of the public eye by alleging it will damage relations between London and Riyadh.
Irwin Mitchell partner Jeremy Marshall has been instructed by Prince Mishal Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and his son, HRH Prince Abdulaziz Bin Mishal Bin Al Saud, for the appeal.
The pair were previously represented by Clifford Chance partner Ian Roxborough, who instructed Blackstone Chambers’ Tim Otty QC. Marshall has instead turned to Alun Jones QC of Great James Street Chambers to lead the appeal.
The appeal comes after Mr Justice Morgan refused a witness statement put to the court in February by Roxborough that the defendants risked “death and reprisals” should the dispute be heard in open court (see judgment).
Rejecting the application, Morgan J said the defendants’ legal team had failed to demonstrate clear and cogent evidence to support the application. “The opinions and submissions of the solicitor for the applicants come nowhere near being clear and cogent evidence for this purpose,” the judge stated (see blog).
A permission-to-appeal hearing on the ‘in camera’ point will be heard on Thursday in the Court of Appeal (CoA). The finite details of the case, which is brought by Apex Global Management, have been kept under wraps pending the outcome of the appeal.
The defendants had also sought to avoid the costly legal battle by arguing that they were entitled to diplomatic immunity (20 March 2013).
Refusing the application, Mr Justice Vos said the burden of proof lay with the princes.
“In broad terms the evidence as to the princes’ position in Saudi Arabia is almost entirely within their own knowledge. And it was common ground that the burden of proving that they are entitled to sovereign immunity rested upon them,” the judge stated.
“Yet despite this burden, the princes seem to have adopted a habit of producing evidence at the very last moment before each hearing (and ultimately after their last hearing). Moreover, the evidence that they have produced has, to put it at its lowest, evolved.”
The facts of the case, he concluded, did not support the application. It is understood that the defendants will also attempt to overturn Vos J’s ruling at the CoA.
The decision to instruct Irwin Mitchell will be a significant boost to the firm, which wants to grow its corporate profile in London. Marshall heads the firm’s commercial litigation team.