Top London lawyer's £4m home seized as judge finds he lied in court

Top London lawyer has his £4m home seized as judge finds he lied in multi-million pound court fight with Saudi princess after he sank millions into boat firm, apartment and £17m superyacht

  • Ronald Gibbs set up a trust fund for Saudi Princess Deema Bint Sultan in 2011
  • He is accused of misappropriating funds after a series of expensive purchases

An ex-partner at one of Britain’s top law firms has been ordered to sell his £4million London house after a judge found he lied and ‘attempted to mislead the court’ during a multi-million pound fight with a Saudi princess.

Ronald Gibbs, a former partner at Linklaters, has been locked in ‘warfare’ with Saudi royals after agreeing to set up and manage a $25m investment fund for Princess Deema Bint Sultan Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in 2011.

Over subsequent years, Gibbs sank the money into shares in a boat-building company he controlled.

Other money was splashed out on a 3.3m euro apartment in Montenegro and a £17m 40-metre superyacht, which he himself sailed.

The princess and her brother HRH Prince Khaled Bin Sultan Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud later complained that he had failed to return the princess’s millions after being first asked to do so in 2013.

Ronald Gibbs outside London’s High Court, where a judge ordered the sale of his £4million home in order to repay funds to Princess Deema of Saudi Arabia 

The judge found that Gibbs and his ex-wife Sandra had ‘colluded in an attempt to mislead the court’ by producing a fake deed of trust in a bid to prove that 75% of the value of the house (pictured) was owned by Mrs Gibbs and the former couple’s three children

The former Linklaters partner sank the money into shares in a boat-building company he controlled, a €3.3million apartment in Montenegro and a £17million 40-metre superyacht, (pictured) which he himself sailed, the High Court heard

He was subsequently sued by the princess for breaching a 2018 settlement agreement in which he agreed to sell off the yacht and other luxury assets and pay her money back.


The princess’s main claim over her millions has yet to hit court, but last week she sued Mr Gibbs in a separate strand of the case, seeking to make him hand over the £2.2m in interim damages and costs he currently owes her.

Now a judge has ordered that a five-bedroom house Mr Gibbs owns in southwest London – valued online at around £4m – must be sold and the proceeds used to pay off the princess.

The judge, Master John Linwood, also found that Mr Gibbs and his ex-wife Sandra Gibbs had ‘colluded in an attempt to mislead the court’ by producing a fake deed of trust in a bid to prove that 75% of the value of the house was owned by Mrs Gibbs and the former couple’s three children.

The court heard that until 2006 Mr Gibbs was an asset finance lawyer who rose to become a partner at Linklaters, one of the ‘magic circle’ of London’s five biggest multinational law firms

In 2011, after quitting the firm, he agreed to manage the $25m investment pot handed to the princess by her father, former Saudi defence minister Sultan bin Abdulaziz, on his death.

The money was invested in a swish apartment at the Regent Hotel in Porto, Montenegro, superyacht company Silver Arrows Marine Limited and a £17m customised 40-metre Sunseeker 131 superyacht, named Elysium after the idyllic realm of the afterlife in Greek mythology.

The company, whose past projects have included collaborating with Mercedes Benz on a unique yacht based on the lines of one of their cars, is controlled by experienced yachtsman Mr Gibbs, who has also taken the helm of Elysium.

Simon Atrill KC, for the princess, said Mr Gibbs had in 2018 signed an agreement that he would liquidate the investment portfolio by selling the assets, but failed to do so.

After summary judgment was entered against him for breach of that agreement earlier this year, he was ordered to pay £582,077.49 interim damages and £1.64m costs to the princess and her lawyers.

Money was also invested in a swish apartment at the Regent Hotel in Porto, Montenegro

Mr Gibbs claimed he was ‘living hand to mouth’ due to the freezing order imposed on him in 2021 and no longer has control over the yacht or access to the Montenegro apartment 

Mr Atrill asked High Court judge John Linwood to force Mr Gibbs to sell a £4m house in Kings Road, Richmond, and pay off the bills with the proceeds.

He told the judge Mr Gibbs has ‘never repaid a penny’ of the money, despite ‘accepting his obligation to do so…and having the means to do so’.

Mr Gibbs, backed by his ex-wife, who was joined as a defendant to the claim, argued that three-quarters of the house was not his and that he had signed a trust deed ‘for inheritance tax purposes,’ handing 75% of the beneficial interest in the property to her and their kids, despite the couple having split up six years before.

The former couple showed the court copies of a trust deed they said proved that Mr Gibbs had signed most of the house over to his ex and kids.

But Mr Atrill told the judge that after ‘its authenticity was disputed’ the original copy of the deed ‘was then mysteriously destroyed shortly before this trial, and so was not provided for inspection’.

Mrs Gibbs told the judge: ‘I can’t find the original trust deed, but have provided certified copies,’ adding that she had kept it ‘safe in a drawer,’ but that it had nevertheless been lost.

The judge went on to find that Mrs Gibbs ‘did collude with Mr Gibbs in an attempt to mislead the court as to the beneficial ownership of the property’ through the bid to pass off the fake trust deed.

‘Mr Gibbs gave his evidence with bluster swagger and confidence,’ he said.

‘However I couldn’t always believe what he said was true. He was prone at times to evasion and exaggeration.

‘Mr Gibbs would also tailor his evidence especially as to his recollections to avoid committing himself or otherwise he would deny seeing something.

‘I have no hesitation in finding that the deed is not an authentic deed and was not created in 2012.

‘The burden of disproving that was on Mr and Mrs Gibbs and they have done nothing to disprove that.

‘Mr Gibbs owns the property legally and beneficially and the deed of trust is not an authentic document.’

Mrs Gibbs also made a claim to a portion of the property’s value under the Married Women’s Property Act 1882, claiming she had looked after the property when Mr Gibbs was abroad.

But the judge refused that claim, saying: ‘They separated some six years before the property was bought. For some 11 years, Mr Gibbs maintained the property and received the rent. Mrs Gibbs had little input into the maintenance and management.’

Asking him to delay the sale of the house, Mr Gibbs told the judge that there is a 12million euro offer currently on the table for the yacht.

‘I would suggest that sufficient time be given for the yacht to be sold and the debt paid in full,’ Mr Gibbs said.

But Samuel Rabinowitz, representing the princess at the judgment hearing, told the judge: ‘The claimant has been waiting ten years for payment. During that time, there have been a number of promises and it is very difficult to trust anything Mr Gibbs says. The fact that now there is another promise can’t be a reason for more delay.

‘The resistance to these proceedings was on the basis of something that was made up, on a deed of trust that the court has found was not authentic.’

‘I agree,’ said the judge, adding that there had been a ‘litany of excuses’ from Mr Gibbs and that ‘not a penny has been paid’.

‘This is a simple refusal to pay the claimant. The circumstances overwhelmingly call for an order for sale,’ he said.

The judge ordered the house to be sold forthwith, saying: ‘Mr Gibbs gave evidence that £50m worth of assets could be liquidated (but) there is no evidence before me of (other) saleable realisable assets in this jurisdiction..’

He also ordered Mr and Mrs Gibbs to pay the princess’ costs of the latest hearing, which Mr Rabinowitz put at £498,000.

The sum of the costs to be paid will be assessed at another hearing.

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