The Duke of Sussex’s libel claim against the publisher of the Mail on Sunday will cost him almost £1.2 million, The High Court has heard.
At a preliminary hearing Prince Harry’s lawyers said they would seek to claim £631,035 of that back in costs, in the event he wins the case.
Judge Barbara Fontaine however said that the total costs proposed were “extremely high” and said a “substantial reduction” was needed.
She set the amount recoverable by the Duke at almost half the amount his lawyers had argued for at £341,839.
Prince Harry is suing Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL) over an article about his separate judicial review proceedings against the Home Office regarding security arrangements for himself and his family when they are in the UK.
The story was published online and in the newspaper in February under the headline: “Exclusive: How Prince Harry tried to keep his legal fight with the government over police bodyguards a secret... then - just minutes after the story broke - his PR machine tried to put a positive spin on the dispute.”
‘ANL’s estimated costs are just over £500,000’
ANL is contesting the claim on the basis the article expressed an “honest opinion” and will also argue it did not cause “serious harm” to his reputation.
Judge Fontaine was told Prince Harry and ANL have agreed to continue efforts to reach a settlement, and will conduct negotiations until Jan 20.
If no settlement is agreed, the Duke will ask the court to either strike out ANL’s defence or give summary judgment in his favour, avoiding the need for a trial.
Ben Gallop, representing ANL, told the court the publisher’s estimated costs are just over £500,000 and said the Duke’s costs schedule was “wholly disproportionate” for a case in which the trial is due to last between two and four days.
Jane Phillips, representing Prince Harry, told the court the costs were high due to the “high profile” nature of the case and the level of public interest, which meant the evidence had to be considered very carefully.
In July, Mr Justice Nicklin ruled that parts of the article were defamatory, following a hearing in June.
The Duke is bringing the separate proceedings against the Home Office after being told he would no longer be given the “same degree” of personal protective security when visiting from the US, despite offering to pay for it himself.