Saudi Billionaire's Diplomatic Immunity Appeal Rejected In On-going UK Maintenance Battle

Three Judges Dismiss Court Of Appeal Challenge


Oliver Wicks, Press Officer | 0114 274 4649

Leading divorce lawyers at Irwin Mitchell say the on-going battle between Sheikh Walid Juffali and his ex-wife and former model Christina Estrada highlights the complex jurisdiction issues that the English Courts must grapple with before being able to resolve the real financial issues. 

Businessman Sheikh Walid Juffali had mounted a diplomatic immunity defence after Christina Estrada made a claim on his estimated GBP4 billion fortune.

Dr Juffali, claimed that London-based Ms Estrada, was prevented from suing him in an English court because he had immunity through his post as permanent representative to the International Maritime Organisation for the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia.

Mr Justice Hayden had rejected his claim in February following a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London claiming the tycoon's appointment was ''an entirely artificial construct'' designed to defeat court jurisdiction.

Dr Juffali had challenged Mr Justice Hayden's decision at a Court of Appeal hearing in London earlier this month but three judges dismissed that challenge in today’s ruling.

Lord Dyson, the Master of the Rolls, who headed the three-strong panel of appeal judges, said he thought that Mr Justice Hayden “was entitled to conclude on the facts that Dr Juffali is not entitled to immunity because he is permanently resident in the UK and the claim does not relate to any official acts performed in the exercise of his functions."

The pair who met and married in 2001 and separated in 2013 have a daughter who is in her early teens.

Expert Opinion
"This is another case where the English Courts have had to grapple with complex jurisdiction issues before getting to the real financial issues.

“While the facts here are unusual and will not be relevant to many other cases directly, they show the Courts in this jurisdiction have immense power to resolve financial disputes between divorcing couples once they end up in Court rather than resolving matters by negotiation.

Today’s ruling now allows his ex-wife to press on with her claims ‘for an appropriate and fair settlement'."
Teresa Davidson, Partner