Your yacht or mine?

A former Linklaters partner has been ordered to pay back approximately £30m to a Saudi princess after he spent her cash on investments including a superyacht for his own use.

Ron Gibbs was the head of aviation and shipping at Linklaters until he left in 2006 to became a consultant to Saudi Arabia's HRH Prince Khaled.

The prince’s sister, HRH Princess Deema, transferred $25m to Gibbs in 2011 that she had been gifted by her late father, a Saudi defence minister, with instructions to invest it on her behalf.

Although the funds were originally earmarked for a property in Paris, Deema changed her mind and so instead Gibbs purchased a £17m superyacht, Elysium, in which he reportedly sailed around the world, bought a £3m apartment in the Regent Hotel in Porto, Montenegro, and invested in his own boatbuilding business, Silver Arrows Marine Group.

The Saudi royals terminated his consultancy via a settlement agreement in 2013 and asked Gibbs to transfer them the investments and any remaining cash. He didn’t, and when he still didn’t once a second settlement agreement was entered into in 2018, Deema sued and his assets were made subject to a worldwide freezing order.

The ex-Links partner used various means to stall for time. He claimed he was in the process of liquidating his investments, and that he couldn’t say where all the money had gone because he hadn’t kept sufficient records. Deputy Judge Mr Richard Salter KC said it was an assertion which “naturally invites a degree of scepticism”. 

Gibbs also claimed that the terms of his agreement meant Deema’s fortune could be invested in assets “for the personal benefit of Mr Gibbs [and] his family”.

Eventually his non-compliance with costs orders and his disclosure failings resulted in an order disbarring him from defending the underlying proceedings. 

But he still fought where he could. In 2023 Deema sought to force the sale of a £3.5m house in Richmond-on-Thames owned by Gibbs, to claw back money she was owed pursuant to interim costs orders made against the lawyer.

Gibbs, who was renting the property for £6,500 a month, represented himself alongside his ex-wife, who was also a defendant, and claimed the house wasn’t his to sell as he had transferred the property to other family members via an unregistered deed of trust.

When Deema’s lawyers at Quinn Emmanuel asked him to produce the deed he told them that he had "led a long and busy life, living and working in multiple jurisdictions around the world", and "did not trail around with him a truck load of documents on the off chance one day he would be asked for a piece of paper”.

His ex-wife was just as impressive. She claimed that there was no contemporaneous correspondence about the deed, that the laptop and printer used to produce it no longer existed, that there were no drafts, that the witness couldn’t be contacted as she had died, and that no-one else knew about it because Gibbs was an experienced solicitor who drafted the document without assistance.

In a bravura move, Gibbs then claimed to have accidentally shredded the deed. He told Quinn Emmanuel, "Two weeks ago I took all original trust deeds in my possession to a local solicitor to have certified copies made. I also took copies of the documents with me, but the solicitor concerned preferred to make his own copies which he then certified. When I returned home I destroyed the unnecessary copies and I realise now I must have destroyed the originals by mistake. I have been so careful with the original documents as they could easily be mistaken for copies, so I am devastated that I have made such an error and as a result have lost all of the original trust deeds." 

Ordering him to sell the house, the judge concluded that Gibbs had made the whole thing up and said that his conduct was “reprehensible and a wholesale abuse of process”.

Now Gibbs has been ordered to repay the original $25m, plus compound interest of 9% per year since 2018. 

Mr Justice Calver said that “Mr Gibbs has done everything he possibly could to avoid returning these funds to the claimant and his behaviour has been reprehensible”. 

His dodges included claiming he was in Spain to avoid being served with papers, an assertion undermined by video which showed him “somewhat comically seeking to evade service by running off down the road”.

Gibbs told the court he had been “ruined” and reduced to fighting the case by himself with a laptop and a £50 printer, and working as a boat captain.

“You can't get blood out of a stone. There is no point asking me to pay funds I don't have”, he reportedly said, adding that, “If I didn't have an old age pension, I would have struggled to pay the Tube fare today. My small laptop is basically all I have”.

It's unlikely the ex-Links partner will ever get to cruise the Azores in Elysium again, but he can always come back to RollOnFriday and remember when he granted Boat International a tour of 'his' customised Sunseeker 131.



“I like driving the boat myself, and I like being in the open air", he told the magazine. "I didn’t want to be in the same situation as with the Sunseeker 115, where you have to run between the sundeck and the bridge.” A flaw familiar to many of ROF's readers.



Gibbs' list of custom features was "long and detailed, with a first draft extending to 120 pages", he said. By the end of the build, "they were on version 11 of the document". You can take the partner out of the Magic Circle...



“If you’re going to do overnight cruises, do not put your master cabin in the bow”, said Gibbs. “In my configuration, it is so stable and so quiet. You also have your own private deck behind you."  



"In the morning it’s great, too: into the gym, then straight to the shower, change.”



Gibbs didn't allow hot meals onboard as “Trying to get cooking smells out of a boat with curtains is very difficult. It ages a boat very quickly”.

“Then there’s the time it takes to get food on board and waste off. And however good your chef is, after two weeks on board, you become pretty bored with what they do". Completely. One lobster ravioli a fortnight is quite enough, thank you.



"This is one of my favourite places,” he said of the upholstered spot beneath the custom parasol at the bow. “Sitting on the edge of the foredeck, out of the wind.”

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Anonymous 01 March 24 08:39

Honestly, Gibbs approach to the trust deed was a bit disappointing. 

Should have gone the whole hog and claimed his dog ate it.

After all his position is so hopeless, he might as well gone for the case law legend award/lolz.

Sumoking 01 March 24 08:46

this chap bears a remarkable resemblance to Rof's own SummerSails who only the other the day was boasting on board about his new £50 printer too 

Anonymous 01 March 24 09:51

It's the stupidity after being caught that gets me. Like, I get it, you get a load of cash from a Saudi and assume they won't miss it. It's filthy oil money from a despotic unjust society, let's not pretend they deserve it or earned it. It's yours as much as it is theirs. So you have a bit of fun with it and hope they see it as pocket change that you can give them dull annual reports about every couple of years. But then, when they ask for the cash back, what the hell do you think you're doing trying to keep hold of it? Obviously you liquidate as much as you can as fast as you can, give them back at least $25m so they aren't out of pocket, and do everything you can to get out of there as fast as possible. They'll only notice a few missing million if you drag your heels and try to keep the lot. But if you chuck a load of docs and records at them while giving the impression of diligence and the usual flannel about difficult market conditions and returns not being what they might have been in another universe in which all of the relevant facts were different then they won't care to check every zero to make sure you haven't skimmed off a few lions for your house and holiday home. What an absolute amateur.

Anonymous 01 March 24 10:03

I can see why you'd get lulled into thinking splashing $25m of her money on your own toys didn't really matter when you see her dropping millions everywhere like it's pocket change, but I also admire his brass neck. Gibbs didn't give a f**k, he even got interviewed as if it was his boat! 

Anonymous 01 March 24 10:03

I'm slightly surprised he wasn't more motivated by the lurking threat of bone saws, but maybe the yacht helped him feel he could stay one step ahead. 

Anon 01 March 24 10:15

With all the departures at Linklaters, at what point do they decide it makes sense to dissolve the partnership?

Lydia 01 March 24 10:35

Who was he trying to kid?  What a mess.   It is all very simple - Thou shalt not steal. Nor should he have coveted a neighbour's ox.

Anonymous 01 March 24 10:44

"Nor should he have coveted a neighbour's ox." - Quite right. Everyone knows that you should covet their ass.

Spotty Lizard 01 March 24 11:27

"When Deema’s lawyers at Quinn Emmanuel asked him to produce the deed he told them that he had "led a long and busy life, living and working in multiple jurisdictions around the world", and "did not trail around with him a truck load of documents on the off chance one day he would be asked for a piece of paper”."

Straight into my precedent bank for future inter-solicitor correspondence.

Anonymousery 01 March 24 11:28

What are the rules of service in international waters?  Should have hoist the rigging and gone full high seas!

General Zod 01 March 24 14:56

In the 90s, it was an open secret at Links that Gibbs kept two secretaries in an apartment at Canary Wharf.

Anon2 01 March 24 15:00

@Anon 10:15

Don’t worry, says Links’ “firmwide managing partner” and tech supremos with pointless titles, we are investing so much in AI we are like a tech firm and we will beat all of them as they clearly couldn’t access the same tools we got off the shelf from Microsoft or Google

Anonymous 01 March 24 16:20

@14:56 - I love the idea that Gibbs was such an insatiable sexual tyrannosaur that he had to have that two-in-a-flat setup in order to have a brace of mistresses working in shifts to satisfy him; one of them napping on the apartment's sofa to recharge while the other gave it 110% in the bedroom, before tapping out with exhaustion for the other to come back in. Such was his rampant virility. 

Solicitor 07 March 24 15:26

I found the behaviour of this former Linklaters partner disgusting and embarrassing for the legal profession in the UK, and for Britain more generally.

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