Senior Qatari Royals may contest Irish courts' ability to hear defamation claims against them

While it was accepted that the Qatari-based defendants "may be busy with football for the next few weeks," Irish lawyers, had "conditionally" come on record for the defendants.
Senior Qatari Royals may contest Irish courts' ability to hear defamation claims against them

High court reporters

Senior members of the Qatari Royal family and a group of companies that own several luxury hotels may contest the Irish High Court's jurisdiction to hear a damages claim brought against them by Irish businessman Ronnie Delany.

The possible challenge to the hearing of Mr Delany's actions, where he alleges defamation, before the Irish courts was briefly mentioned before Mr Justice Brian O'Moore on Monday.

Mr Delany claims he was defamed, and his reputation damaged in letters he alleges were published to persons in Ireland.

The letters, he further alleges, formed part of a conspiracy against him.

The businessman wants to sue Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, the former Emir of the Gulf State of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabber Al Thani, who is a businessman and Qatari politician, Maybourne Hotels Ltd, and the hotel group's Chief Executive Officer Mr Marc Socker.

Mr Delany' claims that Maybourne owns and operates The Berkeley, Claridge's and The Connaught hotels in London, and that the two Qatari-based defendants jointly own the economic interest in the group.

In separate but related proceedings Mr Delany has sued another company in the Hotel group French-based Sas Societe Dexploitation Et De Dentention Hoteliere Vista, which owns and operates a hotel on the French Riviera, and its legal representative Gilles De Boissieu, who it is also alleged distributed a letter that allegedly damaged the Irish businessman's reputation.

Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani is also a defendant in the action against the French-based defendants.

Busy with football

When the cases returned before the court Paul McGarry SC for Mr Delany, told Mr Justice O'Moore that his client had been previously granted permission by the court to serve the proceedings on the defendants.

While it was accepted that the Qatari-based defendants "may be busy with football for the next few weeks," Irish lawyers, including Stephen Byrnes Bl, had "conditionally" come on record for the defendants.

Counsel said that the respondents may seek to bring a motion arguing that the Irish courts lack the jurisdiction to hear Mr Delany's claim.

The defendants were waiting to see his client's statement of claim before making a decision on any challenge regarding the Irish court's jurisdiction.

Mr Justice O'Moore put in place timetable for the exchange of documents between the parties and the bringing of any possible motions by the defendant. Both sides agreed to the judge's directions.

The case was adjourned and will next be mentioned before the court in December.

The actions, which relates to letters allegedly published to individuals in Ireland, including businessman Paddy McKillen, and elsewhere on April 13th 2021.

Mr Delany with an address at Chatham Street Dublin 2 claims that the letters were published by the Hotel group and Mr Socker, in their capacity as servants and agents of the Qatari defendants.

He further alleges that the publication of the letters occurred as part of a conspiracy against him.

As a result, he has sued the parties seeking damages, including exemplary and punitive damages for alleged defamation, conspiracy against him and the infliction of loss against him by unlawful means.

Letters

Mr Delany has claimed that as the letters were published to persons located in Ireland, he is entitled to bring the defamation proceedings in this jurisdiction. As part of his actions, he seeks declarations from the court that the contents of letters contained statements that defamed him and injured his reputation.

He also seeks declarations to the effect that the letters allegedly form part of an alleged conspiracy be the defendants to damage his reputation.  He further seeks an injunction preventing the defendants from republishing the letters.

The action is not the first set of proceedings involving an Irish businessman and the hotels.

For many years Mr McKillen, an associate of Mr Delany had been a shareholder in the group and has been a consultant to the group.

Mr McKillen had been involved in a lengthy legal battle with the Barclay Brothers over the group.

However, the billionaire brother's interests in group were subsequently acquired by the Qataris.

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