London becomes litigation capital of the world

Michael Jackson isn't the only one trying to settle a foreign legal dispute in a British courtroom

The expected melee surrounding Michael Jackson's appearance in London tomorrow is unlikely to match the carefully choreographed precision of his usual performances. But few doubt that his turn at the Royal Courts of Justice will be dramatic.

That the UK capital has become the arena for a legal row between a US pop star and Middle Eastern royalty is no surprise to regulars at the High Court. The prince is just the latest in a string of high-profile foreign litigants coming to London to secure high-priced British legal expertise to resolve their disputes.

While the paparazzi's flash photography may temporarily illuminate the High Court's sedate exterior, the real fireworks may erupt inside Court 23, where Jackson is a star witness in a case pitching the "king of pop" against genuine royalty.

Originally expected to give evidence from his home in California via a videolink, Jacko will now come face to face with an old friend, Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad Al Khalifa, second son of the King of Bahrain. Their dispute is over an alleged £4.7m deal that the sheikh thought he had set up to promote the star's comeback.

Jackson allegedly reneged on the sheikh's plans for a stage show, an autobiography and a new album. With the quarrel unresolved, all parties have gravitated to London.

While much of British industry suffers in the global economic difficulties, the Bar is booming. London is the place to be for legal "tourists".

Timothy Dutton QC, chairman of the Bar Council, describes law as one of the UK's "great exports". "The Bar Council estimates the export value of international legal services is in excess of £2bn and that barristers contribute over £200m to what is an important export of highly skilled legal services. This matters to the economy and enhances the reputation of the City," he said yesterday, adding that the presence of large numbers of expert solicitors and barristers made London a "natural place" to seek advice.

Generous libel settlements and the ability to recover costs is one area where legal tourism has attracted many combatants to London. The Russian business tycoon Boris Berezovsky used the British courts in 2003 to sue Forbes magazine, a title run from New York; and the Polish film director Roman Polanski won a 2005 libel action against Vanity Fair while giving video evidence from Paris.

Leading silk Terence Mowschenson QC said yesterday: "In the High Court, most of the cases we deal with are one foreign party against another. I think London is pretty hard to beat. There are some good lawyers in New York but, generally, London is hard to beat for expertise and quality."

He said US courts had a narrower interpretation of libel, making it harder to sue newspapers, adding that results were more unpredictable, as juries were often appointed to judge litigation cases. "The judges in London are used to making fast decisions and they have an integrity that is justifiably recognised around the world."

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
footballRadamel Falcao and Diego Costa head record £835m influx
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint kiss in Doctor Who episode 'Deep Breath'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Danish director Lars von Trier
tvEnglish-language series with 'huge' international cast set for 2016
Life and Style
tech
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Year 3 Teacher Cornwall

£23500 - £40000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: Year 3 Primary Teacher...

HR Generalist (standalone) - Tunbridge Wells - £32,000

£30000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Generalist (standalone) - Tunbrid...

Year 3 Teacher Plymouth

£23500 - £40000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: Year 3 Primary Teacher...

Junior Software Developer - Newcastle, Tyne & Wear - £30,000

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Junior Web Developer / J...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering