HRH Prince Abdul Aziz Bin Fahd Bin Abdul Aziz v. Mrs Janan George Harb  EWCA Civ 481, Court of Appeal of England and Wales
The claimant (“Mrs Harb”) brought a claim against HRH Prince Abdul Aziz Bin Fahd Bin Abdul Aziz, a prince of the Saudi Arabian royal family (“the Prince”) for damages for breach of an oral contract which Mrs Harb claims was concluded between her and the Prince in 2003.
The Prince sought to strike out the claim on the basis that the Court lacked jurisdiction by reason of State immunity. The Prince asserts that if any contract was concluded between him and Mrs Harb, then he, the Prince, was acting as the representative and agent of his father, King Fahd of Saudi Arabia (“King Fahd”). King Fahd died in August 2005. The Prince asserts that the claim is, in truth, one against the estate of the late King Fahd and that it is barred by State immunity pursuant to s. 20 of the State Immunity Act 1978 (s. 20 containing the principles of State immunity applicable in the case of heads of State and former heads of State). Rose J rejected that plea, but gave the Prince permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal.
The Court of Appeal affirmed the decision by Mr Justice Rose and dismissed the appeal. The Court of Appeal held that the issue of State immunity does not arise on the way that the claim was put by Mrs Harb against the Prince. The Court of Appeal went on to find that even if the claim were to turn into a claim for damages for breach of contract against the Estate of the late King Fahd, then the Estate cannot validly claim State immunity since a former head of State has no immunity from suit in respect of private acts and that this rule applies whether the person has ceased to be head of State whilst alive or has done so because he has died.