The Duke of York may have to acknowledge the civil sex case brought against him following reports a judge has ruled the paperwork can be delivered to Andrew’s US lawyer.
Andrew’s legal team have contested whether he has been officially notified about Virginia Giuffre’s claim for damages from the duke after she alleges he sexually assaulted her.
But the Guardian newspaper has reported the judge in the case, US district judge Lewis Kaplan, has ruled Ms Giuffre’s legal team can try delivering the papers to Andrew’s Los Angeles-based lawyer, regardless of whether the duke authorised him to accept it.
The issue of whether or not Andrew has been notified about the case – known as service of proceedings – was contested during the first pre-trial hearing of the civil case on Monday in New York.
It is an important matter as telling a defendant about legal action being brought against them is the first step in the judicial process.
David Boies, representing Ms Giuffre, said papers had been “delivered to the last known address of the defendant” and documents had also been sent “by Royal Mail”.
An image of a letter addressed to Andrew, at his Royal Lodge home in Berkshire, being posted into a UK red letter box has been published online.
Andrew B Brettler, the duke’s attorney, said the royal’s team contested the validity of service to date, adding he has not been properly served under either UK or international law.
Mr Brettler told the hearing Ms Giuffre had previously entered into a “settlement agreement” that would nullify her case, and on Thursday Manhattan Judge Loretta Preska said Andrew could request the unsealing of this 2009 document.
In a written order the judge said the duke could seek the information to support arguments that the agreement between Ms Giuffre and Andrew’s former friend and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein disallow her lawsuit against the royal.
In another development, the High Court in London accepted on Wednesday a request by Ms Giuffre’s lawyers to formally contact Andrew about the legal proceedings launched in America.
It is understood Andrew’s team are contesting the court’s decision and the High Court has given the duke’s lawyers seven days to challenge its decision.
The High Court said in a statement: “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 September 24.”
Ms Giuffre is suing the Queen’s son for allegedly sexually assaulting her when she was a teenager. She is seeking unspecified damages but there is speculation the sum could be in the millions of dollars.
She claims she was trafficked by Epstein to have sex with the duke when she was aged 17 and a minor under US law.
Epstein was found dead in his cell at a Manhattan federal jail in August 2019 while he awaited a sex trafficking trial. The death was ruled to be suicide.
Andrew has vehemently denied all the allegations.