In court number 13 of the High Court of Justice of England and Wales will open next Monday, December 6 (Constitution day in Spain), the first hearing for the civil lawsuit of Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein against Juan Carlos I for alleged harassment, illegal tracking and defamation. In this building, the Royal Courts of Justice, of Gothic style, built in the 1870s and inaugurated by Queen Victoria, the evidence will be exposed if the demand exceeds the preliminary barrier: the argument of the defense of Juan Carlos I according to which the current king emeritus enjoys sovereign immunity and jurisdiction as a former head of state and, therefore, rejects English jurisdiction.
Judge Matthew Nicklin will be in charge of holding this hearing, which, in principle, is scheduled for Monday 6 and Tuesday 7 December. The plaintiff, Corinna, will be represented by the attorneys Jonathan Caplan, James Lewis and Adam Chichester-Clark and the attorneys of the international law firm Clifford Chance will represent the defendant Juan Carlos I.
‘Case management conference’
According to the announcement of the hearing on the court notice board, posted this Friday afternoon, it is a question of a ‘Case management conference’ or ‘CMC’, a preliminary hearing for the court to identify and delimit the issues in dispute, and to study whether they can be narrowed down before going to trial. The judge has broad powers to determine how the case should be conducted, which translates into a first direction order that addresses the timing of the lawsuit.
Although Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein asks for compensation for damages, the claim does not quantify it. Legal sources estimate, for the concept of costs that are pointed out, that a figure of million pounds or euros, an amount that would lead to the so-called multi-track procedure, by exceeding 25,000 pounds sterling. Another aspect that is addressed is the costs of the procedure.
Immunity from jurisdiction
The preliminary point, the equivalent of what would be the previous questions in the civil procedure of Spain, is the lack of jurisdiction, objective and territorial competence. In this case, the defense of Juan Carlos I, hired by the emeritus since United Arab Emirates, where he has resided since the beginning of August 2020, through his lawyer Javier Sánchez-Junco, asks the English court to dismiss the claim because the emeritus has the right to immunity from jurisdiction in his capacity as former head of state. It therefore rejects English jurisdiction.
This doctrine collides with the circumstance that this prerogative (that Juan Carlos I continue to enjoy immunity from jurisdiction) was not foreseen in his fast gauging before the Second Chamber of the Supreme Court, approved by the Government of Mariano Rajoy and ratified with the votes of the PP alone, after the abdication of the Monarch in June 2014. A forecast of this type, of course, would have been incoherent and contradictory to admit the civil and criminal responsibility of the afarment.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.