The QC Bearpit Divorce Battle – The Multimillion Dollar Fight Between the ‘Steel Magnolia’ and the ‘Prize Fighting’ QCs

The QC Bearpit Divorce Battle - The Multimillion Dollar Fight Between the 'Steel Magnolia' and the 'Prize Fighting' QCs 4
The QC Bearpit Divorce Battle - The Multimillion Dollar Fight Between the 'Steel Magnolia' and the 'Prize Fighting' QCs 5

Lord Pannick is regarded as one of Britain’s top Queen’s Counsel – described by The Times as “a prizefighting legal titan” – has squared off with a QC known by some as the ‘Steel Magnolia’.

The a multi-billion dollar divorce battle involving the Ruler of Dubai saw a reputed £1 million bill paid to Lord Pannick representation, while the opposing QC Fiona Shackleton prevailed in the early court skirmish.

But, the costs do not end there. In addition to his involvement there are another 16 QCs to be paid in a fight between Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Al Maktoum and his wife, Princess Haya who are engaged on issues relating to findings of fact relating to the divorce and relating to the welfare of the couple’s two young children.

The case, handled by one of Britain’s most senior judges, has ruled that Al Maktoum conducted a campaign aimed at “intimidating and frightening” his estranged wife Princess Haya Bint al-Hussein before she fled to the U.K.

Judge Andrew McFarlane wrote in a ruling this week granted protective orders for the children as well as an interim injunction against Sheikh Mohammed barring threatening or violent conduct.

The Judge’s ruling creates a major embarrassment for Dubai, leaving questions about governance in Dubai after one of the princess’s lawyer’s Charles Geekie QC argued that the sheikh deployed the full power of the state to “threaten, intimidate, mistreat and oppress.”

McFarlane said he largely agreed with Geekie’s submissions.

“These findings, taken together, demonstrate a consistent course of conduct over two decades where, if he deems it necessary to do so, the father will use the very substantial powers at his disposal to achieve his particular aims,” the judge said.

The Clash of QCs

The case saw teams of leading QCs clashing. Princess Haya had one of Britain’s leading Counsel, Baroness Fiona Shackleton QC, with sidekick QCs to assist. Baroness Shackleton comes with a price tag of around £600 an hour (USD 780).

Lord Pannick reportedly agreed his £1million fee when he was recruited by the ruler to revive his case, was one of eight QCs hired by the billionaire Sheikh Maktoum, along with five junior barristers and large teams of solicitors from two firms.

Baroness Fiona Shackleton QC is one of Britain’s leading divorce lawyers who famously handled the Charles / Diana split on behalf of Charles, along with acting for Prince Andrew in his divorce as well as acting for Sir Paul McCartney in his split from Heather Mills. She appears with Charles Geekie QC, a leading family law silk with a strong focus on child issues, and their legal team.

She has been labelled the ‘Steel Magnolia’ for her legal abilities and efforts

The costs overall with a squadron of high flying QCs believed to number 17, are reportedly in the range of £5.2 million

The QC Bearpit Divorce Battle - The Multimillion Dollar Fight Between the 'Steel Magnolia' and the 'Prize Fighting' QCs 6
Baroness Shackleton QC & Princess Haya

Princess Haya, 45, is the half-sister of King Abdullah II of Jordan, who is wealthy in her own right, was in court to apply for her children to be made wards of court. 

She had also asked the High Court in London to make a series of findings of fact about Sheikh Mohammed, in particular in relation to the kidnap and forcible detention of two of his adult daughters from another marriage almost two decades apart. 

The princess said she had feared for the safety of her family since she twice found a gun on her bed a year ago.

Leading Chambers vs. Firm

Lord Pannick practices from Blackstone Chambers, one of Britain’s leading commercial and civil law Chambers, while Baroness Shackleton works from the law firm Payne Hicks Beach.

Her career has involved her handling legal work for the Royal Family when she worked for the ‘royal law firm’ at Farrer & Co but she reportedly fell out of favour with the royal family following the Paul Burrell affair. She sits in the House of Lords as a Conservative.

Recent News on LawFuel

why you must use an attorney in contract law

Will the effects of the coronavirus allow you to avoid contractual obligations?

Pierce Bainbridge Principal on 'Leave of Absence' 8

Pierce Bainbridge Principal on ‘Leave of Absence’