A former king of Spain has won the latest stage of a London court battle with an ex-lover – but a lawyer says the fight will go on.
Danish businesswoman Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn, 57, has sued Juan Carlos, 84, who abdicated in 2014, and wants damages for personal injury.
She alleges he caused her “great mental pain” by spying on and harassing her.
Juan Carlos denies wrongdoing and disputes the claims made against him.
A High Court judge ruled earlier this year the claims could be considered at a trial in England.
But Juan Carlos on Tuesday won an appeal after challenging some of Mr Justice Nicklin’s conclusions on jurisdiction.
Appeal judges Lady Justice King, Lady Justice Simler and Lord Justice Popplewell, who heard arguments at a recent Court of Appeal hearing, concluded “the pre-abdication conduct alleged is immune from the jurisdiction of the courts of this country”.
However, a lawyer for Ms zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn said the appeal court ruling will not affect claims she made about Juan Carlos’s behaviour after his abdication.
Michael Kim, from law firm Kobre & Kim, said the “overwhelming part” of the claim “should proceed to trial”.
“The judgment applies to a very narrow issue,” he said.
“It concerns only the period when Juan Carlos was the reigning king of Spain.
“The overwhelming part of Corinna’s claim, from 2014, remains unaffected and should proceed to trial.”
Judges have been told Juan Carlos ruled from 1975 until his abdication in 2014 and the succession of his son, King Felipe VI.
They have heard Ms zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn is Danish, lived in Monaco between 2008 and 2019, and has homes in London and Shropshire.
Ms zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn wants an “injunction and damages” resulting from “a continuous and ongoing campaign of harassment” against her, “commenced” by (Juan Carlos) from 2012, following the “break-up of an intimate romantic relationship” and her “refusal to let (Juan Carlos) use a financial sum irrevocably gifted to her, or to return other gifts”, the judges were told.
Lawyers representing her have alleged to judges that conduct “includes (the former king) or his agents smearing her and her business in the media, following her, entering her home in Shropshire and bugging her homes and electronic devices”.
Timothy Otty KC, who is leading Juan Carlos’s legal team, told appeal judges in a written argument the former king considers Ms zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn’s legal action to be “vexatious”.
A spokeswoman for Juan Carlos said in a statement: “In its judgment, the Court of Appeal emphasised that His Majesty ’emphatically denies that he engaged in, or directed, any harassment of (the claimant) and rejects her allegations… as untrue’.
“In upholding His Majesty’s appeal, the Court of Appeal ruled that, regardless of that denial, on a proper application of principles of sovereign immunity ‘the pre-abdication conduct alleged is immune from the jurisdiction of the courts of this country’.”
In the appeal court ruling, Lady Justice Simler said Mr Justice Nicklin was “wrong” to conclude the alleged “pre-abdication conduct” was “private conduct”.
She said Juan Carlos and Ms zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn were in an “intimate relationship” from 2004 to 2009.
Ms zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn alleged that, “from 2012, the appellant engaged in a course of conduct amounting to harassment”.
“I emphasise at this stage that there has, as yet, been no decision about whether any of the allegations she makes are true,” the judge said.
“The appellant emphatically denies that he engaged in, or directed, any harassment of the respondent and rejects her allegations to the contrary as untrue.”