Bollywood-loving Bahrain Sheikh fights damages claim in UK court

London: A Bollywood-loving member of the Bahrain royal family is set to fight a nearly USD 42.5-million damages claim brought by an Egyptian businessman when a five-day trial opens in the UK High Court next week. Ahmed Adel Abdallah Ahmed is suing Sheikh Hamad Isa Ali al-Khalifa, a cousin of the King of Bahrain, for allegedly reneging on a verbal agreement dating back to 2015.

Under the agreement, Ahmed claims the Sheikh had legally contracted his firm, CBSC Events, to arrange private meetings with as many as 26 famous Bollywood stars on a wish list drawn up by him.  However, Sheikh Hamad reportedly went back on the deal after meetings with four Bollywood stars – Salman Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, Ranveer Singh and Aditya Roy Kapoor – in Mumbai and Dubai for which he paid around USD 3 million.

In his legal claim for damages due to inconvenience and loss of earnings, Ahmed alleges that the Sheikh breached the terms of their agreement by refusing to pay the sums for additional meetings arranged and that he made excuses not to meet two further stars – Akshay Kumar and Aamir Khan. “This is an interesting case and involves oral agreements reached in London between two parties from the Middle East, concerning arranging meetings with famous Bollywood stars,” said Pavani Reddy, the Managing Partner of Zaiwalla & Co – the London-based law firm representing Ahmed in the trial, which is set to open on Monday.

Neither party in the case has chosen to present any of the Bollywood stars in question as witnesses because they were not privy to what had been agreed between the Sheikh and the businessman. Sheikh Hamad had an agreement with the Claimant (Ahmed) to arrange the meetings, which Sheikh Hamad later reneged on, resulting in a breach in contract and loss of business for the Claimant, the case notes state. The Sheikh, who, on his own admission had an “unbridled desire and fancy to establish contacts with Bollywood stars”, accepts that an agreement was made to arrange meetings. However, disputes the actual terms of the said agreement, Ahmed’s lawyers argue.

Sheikh Hamad will be represented in the High Court next week by Herbert Smith Freehills law firm after an attempt to move the case to Bahrain had failed last year. In his defence, the Sheikh argues that he pulled out of the deal after Ahmed “started to put unfair pressure” on him, “making unwarranted demands for very large sums of money and seeking to arrange meetings which were not convenient”. While oral agreements are enforceable in UK courts, the judge will have to determine whether or not any such agreement was in fact breached.

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