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What is a civil court case? How Prince Andrew’s civil trial over Virginia Giuffre sex abuse claims will work

Prince Andrew now faces the prospect of his accuser Virginia Giuffre giving a detailed account of allegations in court

Legal experts had predicted Andrew would seek a settlement after the Queen stripped him of his military roles, widely seen as the monarchy distancing itself from any potentially damaging developments.

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Ms Giuffre is seeking unspecified damages but there is speculation the sum could be in the millions of dollars.

Andrew has strenuously denied all allegations.

So, what is a civil court case - and how will the lawsuit work? This is what you need to know.

What is a civil case?

Civil law settles disputes between individuals and organisations - and it often involves compensation being awarded.

To begin a civil lawsuit, a person known as the ‘plaintiff’ starts legal action with a document known as a ‘complaint’, which is then ‘served’ against a defendant, the party being sued.

The complaint describes the plaintiff’s facts and legal theories and explains how the defendant allegedly caused harm.

In the complaint, the plaintiff might ask the court for “damages,” meaning money to pay for any harm suffered but they could also ask for an ‘injunction’ or a ‘declaratory judgment’.

No one is sent to prison in a civil case or found guilty or not guilty - but they may be left out of pocket if they’re found ‘liable’ to pay compensation.

A civil lawsuit can be filed over anything from a contract dispute, evictions to injuries sustained in a car accident, or countless other harms or disputes, including sexual assault.

The parties also might resolve the case themselves. At any time during a case, the parties can agree to settle their disputes and reach a compromise to avoid trial - or the risk of losing.

The Duke of York with Virginia Giuffre and Ghislaine Maxwell (image: US Department of Justice)

What case does the Duke of York face?

Ms Giuffre has brought a case of battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress against the duke.

It is claimed she was trafficked by convicted sex offender Epstein and others to Andrew, who is alleged to have sexually abused her when she was under the age of 18.

The duke has vehemently denied the allegations and his legal team has argued from the lawsuit’s first hearing that the case is “baseless”.

Why does Prince Andrew want to go in front of a jury?

Andrew has taken the dramatic decision to face his accuser in court and become the first member of the modern royal family to submit to being cross examined over serious allegations.

The duke submitted 11 reasons why the case should be dismissed, including that Ms Giuffre’s claims are “barred by the doctrine of consent” and by “her own wrongful conduct”.

Media lawyer Mark Stephens said the trial, and the legal proceedings before it, will overshadow the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and threaten the existence of the monarchy.

He added any trial could have far-reaching consequences for the monarchy: “I can’t conceive that the royal family will allow him to run this case and overshadow the Platinum Jubilee.

“It’s going to spark a debate about the relevancy and appropriateness of the royal family and we’ve already seen that they moved very fast to strip him of his titles and that debate abated, but the more detail that comes out the more there’s going to be a problem for the wider royal family.”

Prince Andrew, Duke of York, might face civil trial in New York bewtween September and December. (image: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Would Andrew have to give evidence in the case?

It is likely he will be asked to give evidence under oath as part of the discovery process in what is known as a deposition.

David Boies, who is representing Ms Giuffre in her lawsuit against Andrew, said his client and legal team were looking forward to “confronting” the royal about his “denials”.

How many allegations does the duke face?

Judge Lewis Kaplan referenced four separate occasions in which Ms Giuffre accuses him of sexual misconduct.

Ms Giuffre claims Andrew had sex with her against her will at Maxwell’s London home and at Epstein’s mansion on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

The duke is also alleged to have abused Ms Giuffre on another occasion during a visit to Epstein’s private island, Little St James, and on a separate occasion at Epstein’s Manhattan mansion.

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