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Family Law

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21 JUN 2016

Harb v HRH Prince Abdul Aziz Bin Fahd Bin Abdul Aziz [2016] EWCA Civ 556

Harb v HRH Prince Abdul Aziz Bin Fahd Bin Abdul Aziz [2016] EWCA Civ 556
(Court of Appeal, Lord Dyson MR, Moore-Bick, McFarlane LJJ, 16 June 2016)

Financial remedies – Contract – Agreement to withdraw claim in return for a lump sum payment and property transfer – Agreement by the son of the husband – Whether the agreement was legally enforceable

The appeal was allowed from a decision that the son of the King of Saudi Arabia had breached a legally binding agreement with the wife of the king to make payment and transfer property to her.

The woman claimed that she had married the future king of Saudi Arabia in 1968. When the relationship between her and members of the royal family broke down 2 years later she left Saudi Arabia. However, she maintained that she remained married under Sharia law.

In 1995 the King became partially incapacitated due to suffering a stroke. In 2003 when the woman had fallen into financial difficulties she drafted an affidavit in relation to her subsisting marriage with the king for the purposes of an application for financial remedies under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. When the king's son visited London the woman met with him. She alleged that the son agreed that, if she withdrew her claims against the king, he would pay her £12m and transfer two properties in Chelsea to her. Shortly after the woman instructed a solicitor to draft documents to give legal effect to the agreement, including a formal contract which, upon his request, was posted to the son.

In 2009 the woman initiated proceedings seeking to enforce the contract or obtain damages for breach. The judge at first instance found in her favour that a legally binding contract had been made and rejected the assertion that the son was not personally liable because, even if he had entered into a contract, he had done as as an agent for the king. The son appealed.

The appeal was allowed on the grounds that: the judge's approach to the evidence had been unsatisfactory and the judge had asked himself the wrong question on the matter of agency. The deficiencies in the judgment were so serious in this instance that the matter would be remitted to the High Court for re-trial. However, the case of apparent bias by the judge had not been made out.

Case No: A3/2015/4115 & 4115(A)
Neutral Citation Number: [2016] EWCA Civ 556

IN THE COURT OF APPEAL (CIVIL DIVISION)
ON APPEAL FROM THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE
CHANCERY DIVISION
Mr. Justice Peter Smith [2015] EWHC 3155 (Ch)

Royal Courts of Justice
Strand
London
WC2A 2LL

Date: 16/06/2016

Before:


THE MASTER OF THE ROLLS
LORD JUSTICE MOORE-BICK
and
LORD JUSTICE McFARLANE


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Between:


JANAN GEORGE HARB
Claimant/Respondent


- and -


HRH PRINCE ABDUL AZIZ BIN FAHD BIN ABDUL AZIZ
Defendant/Appellant


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Lord Grabiner Q.C., Mr. Ian Mill Q.C. and Miss Shaheed Fatima Q.C. (instructed by Howard Kennedy LLP) for the Appellant
Mr. Charles Hollander Q.C. and Mr. Ian Clarke Q.C. (instructed by Hughmans) for the Respondent


Hearing dates: 16th & 17th May 2016


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Harb v HRH Prince Abdul Aziz Bin Fahd Bin Bin Abdul Aziz [2016] EWCA Civ 556

Judgment
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