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Canadian wins major battle in UK fight against Dubai Film Festival Chairman and Managing Director

Defendants served with legal papers in Cannes

LONDON, May 21 /PRNewswire/ - Neil Stephenson, the Canadian Founder and former CEO of the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) - an event conceptualized and launched by Stephenson in the aftermath of the 9-11 terrorist attacks in order to bring reconciliation between the West and the Islamic world - has cleared a key hurdle in his fight for justice against DIFF Chairman Abdulhamid Juma and Managing Director Shivani Pandya.

The UK defamation lawsuit against Juma and Pandya was filed last year, but not served.

The case had been originally filed in December 2007 in the California Superior Court against Juma and Pandya "for their deplorable and despicable behavior," but when the defendants attempted to sidestep the charges on technical jurisdictional grounds and refused to answer the substance of his complaint, Stephenson in a surprise move decided to withdraw his California lawsuit and voluntarily re-file the case in the British courts in order to force the litigation of the dispute on its merits.

Given Juma and Pandya's past tactics of using procedural means to avoid substantively appearing in court, Stephenson elected to pre-empt such tactics and appeared in the UK High Court on April 23, 2009 arguing that the Court should grant him permission to serve the legal papers on Juma and Pandya outside the jurisdiction of England. The court granted the order.

Legal experts say that the ruling is significant because English courts only grant this permission when they are convinced that England is the proper forum and jurisdiction for the matter to be tried, and where they believe that the Plaintiff has a strong chance of success at trial.

Stephenson said that he has brought this action reluctantly after unsuccessfully attempting to reconcile matters amicably in a private way.

The suit alleges that the two defendants conspired to ruin his reputation by branding him a "racist" and an "Arab-hater," despite the fact that he had lived in the Arab world for 10 years and had started DIFF in 2003.

SOURCE Neil Stephenson Ltd.

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