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High Court rules Saudi billionaire applied to become diplomat to avoid ex-wife’s financial claim

Related Member(s):
Tim Owen QC
Related Practice Area(s):
Fraud, Financial and Business Crime, Crime and Regulatory Law

A High Court Judge has ruled that Sheikh Walid Juffali applied to become a diplomat to acquire diplomatic immunity so as to avoid any financial claim bought against him in the UK by his ex-wife, Christina Estrada. His appointment as a permanent representative to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) by the Caribbean island of St Lucia in April 2014 was declared by the judge as “the sole intention of defeating Ms Estrada’s claims consequent of the breakdown of their marriage”. Ms Estrada is seeking an appropriate and fair financial settlement for herself and for the parties’ shared daughter after 13 years of marriage to Dr Juffali. Her legal team argued that as Dr Juffali is a permanent resident of the UK with strong and enduring ties to the country including those of his ex-wife and daughter and of his multiple properties in London and Devon, his immunity was limited to his official, diplomatic functions and did not extend to the family court proceedings. Although Dr Juffali and his team argued that he did not permanently reside in the UK and had substantial property outside of the UK, the judge rejected Dr Juffali’s arguments.

Tim Owen QC was instructed by Hughes Fowler Carruthers Solicitors for Ms Estrada.