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The judge in the Duke of York’s court case has ruled that he can legally be served the sex assault lawsuit via his American lawyer.
The decision negated the need to abide by the Hague Convention as the Duke had appointed counsel based in the US, said Lewis Kaplan, the New York federal judge.
However, the Duke’s lawyers continue to insist he must be served under the terms of the Convention.
In a separate development on Friday, the Duke was given one week to challenge a High Court decision to accept a request to serve the papers on behalf of his accuser, Virginia Roberts Giuffre.
It came as David Boies, Ms Giuffre’s lawyer, warned him to accept the lawsuit, saying: “Service is not intended to be a game of hide and seek behind palace walls.”
‘Dramatic shift in mood’
The Duke’s “bullish” attitude towards the case is said to have shifted in recent days as he faces the prospect of a legal battle that could drag on for years and cost millions of pounds.
He had been confident the case would collapse, allowing him to return to royal duties, but there has been a “dramatic shift in mood” as his team faces pressure to address the claims and potentially face Ms Giuffre in court.
The High Court agreed to intervene when the Duke refused to accept that the complaint, sent by courier to his Windsor home, posted to his UK lawyer’s London office and sent by email, had not been properly served.
His lawyers insisted that under the terms of the Hague Convention, the papers should be delivered via “judicial officers”, meaning the High Court should act as an intermediary.
The application to the High Court was made by Ms Giuffre’s lawyers.
In New York, Judge Kaplan noted in his order that both parties “hotly dispute” whether the Duke who he said was “reportedly ninth in the line of succession to the British throne,” had been served.
He said Ms Giuffre had made two requests to authorise an alternative means of service, one under US federal rules and one under the Hague Convention.
He gave permission to serve the papers to Andrew Brettler, the Duke’s newly appointed LA-based counsel.
“That will not require transmittal of any documents abroad and accordingly will not be subject to the Convention,” he said.
The judge also authorised Ms Giuffre to ask the High Court to serve the papers on her behalf. He said he hoped the order would “obviate the need for any hearing” before a British judge on the matter.
Barbara Fontaine, senior master of the Queen’s Bench division, has already this week reviewed an application made by Ms Giuffre and agreed to serve the papers on her behalf.
However, the Duke has sought to further delay the legal process by disputing that decision, insisting that the request had to come via the New York court.
On Friday, the High Court gave his team one week to lodge a formal challenge.
A judicial spokesman told The Telegraph: “Lawyers for Prince Andrew have indicated that they may seek to challenge the decision of the High Court to recognise the validity of the Hague Convention request for service made by Ms Giuffre’s lawyers.
“The High Court has directed that any challenge must be made by close of business on 24 September.”
Meanwhile in the US, Judge Kaplan has expressed frustration about the apparent delay tactics, suggesting the Duke’s legal team was wasting time and money on technicalities.
“You have a pretty high degree of certainty that he can be served sooner than later,” he told Mr Brettler. “Let’s cut out all the technicalities and get to the substance.”
Meanwhile, photographs were released showing the complaint being posted to the Duke’s Windsor home in a large white envelope with a first class stamp.
It is understood to have been posted by an employee from the London office of Boies Schiller Flexner, Ms Giuffre’s legal team.
Ms Giuffre claims she was forced to have sex with the Duke three times when she was 17. The Duke denies the claims and says he has “no recollection” of meeting her.