His lawyers argued the agreement meant the Duke of York could not be tried, with Andrew B Brettler, the duke’s lawyer, claiming during a virtual hearing his client was a “potential defendant” as defined by the agreement and so the case “should be dismissed”.
In his counter-argument, David Boies, Ms Giuffre’s lawyer, said only the parties of the settlement agreement – Epstein, Ms Giuffre and their associates – could benefit from it, and not a “third party” such as the Duke of York.
But Judge Lewis A Kaplan ruled: “The 2009 Agreement cannot be said to demonstrate, clearly and unambiguously, the parties intended the instrument ‘directly,’ ‘primarily,’ or ‘substantially,’ to benefit Prince Andrew.”
Prince Andrew lost his attempt to throw the case out
Virginia Guiffre is suing the duke over allegations of s*xual assault when she was a minor
The Duke of York’s trial date could be just months away, according to an expert as news of the latest development in the civil suit broke today.
The judge said she “expected” the case to proceed but the trail won’t come until both teams agree they have finished establishing the facts.
While this could be months ahead, experts say the Prince could face the judge by the end of this year. Learn more about when Prince Andrew’s trial could begin.
He continued: “The law prohibits the Court from considering at this stage of the proceedings defendant’s efforts to cast doubt on the truth of Ms Giuffre’s allegations, even though his efforts would be permissible at trial.
“In a similar vein and for similar reasons, it is not open to the Court now to decide, as a matter of fact, just what the parties to the release in the 2009 settlement agreement signed by Ms Giuffre and Jeffrey Epstein actually meant.”
The ruling is a significant blow for the Royal Family in a year of momentous importance to the Queen, who will celebrate her Diamond Jubilee on Monday, February 6.
Buckingham Palace declined to comment on the development, saying: “We would not comment on what is an ongoing legal matter.”
Prince Andrew could face trial if no settlement is reached
What’s next for Prince Andrew?
The ongoing legal battle will now go one of two ways; trial in a New York court, or an out-of-court settlement, if Ms Guiffre decides that is the path she wishes to take.
Sarah Krissoff, a former prosecutor in the southern district of New York, said “Prince Andrew cannot appeal at this point”, as the ruling is an interim judgement.
She explained: “The civil case will move forward. They will proceed into a period called ‘discovery’ where each side will exchange information with each other [and] be allowed to do depositions.”
A deposition is a declaration under oath. She said: “It’s basically not a final judgement on the case, but the interim decision that will allow the case to move forward.”
The Prince has withdrawn almost entirely from public life
“I’m confident that he does not want to be deposed, [for] people close to him to be deposed, and in order to do that he has to resolve the case before it gets to that point.
“I’m certain they’re having those discussions in his team right now, and perhaps even having discussions with Guiffre’s lawyers as well, so they can discuss whether the case is going to move forward into that discovery phase, or whether there is some sort of resolution the parties can reach outside of the court room.”
Thomas Garner, Extradition Partner at Fladgate, told Express.co.uk: “These directions will involve the service of evidence and the taking of depositions, and each stage will bring further embarrassment to the Prince and the Palace here.
“Should the matter proceed to trial, there obviously remains the question as to whether Andrew would testify in court.
“To date, the Prince has denied any and all wrongdoing in the strongest possible terms, but as this is a civil matter in theory, at least it is of course possible that a settlement may be reached with Ms Giuffre which avoids the need for a trial.”
Source: EXPRESS CO UK