DECEMBER 17 2010 05:04h

Brunei prince loses legal fight over $7M

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NEW YORK, Dec. 16 (UPI) -- A member of the Brunei royal family has lost a multi-million-dollar New York legal battle with his former lawyers and advisers.

A jury ruled Wednesday that Thomas Derbyshire and Faith Zaman, both British lawyers and married to each other, did not cheat Prince Jefri Bolkiah. The prince, brother of the Sultan of Brunei, was denied the $7 million in damages he claimed and ordered to pay the couple $21 million in back legal fees.

"This is a huge vindication by real people in a real court, not some kangaroo court in Brunei," Zaman said.

Brunei, which became independent in 1984, is a small Muslim principality on the island of Borneo.

Derbyshire and Zaman said they were retained to handle a series of large real estate transactions for the prince between 2004 and 2006. He claimed the couple engaged in what his current lawyers called "a crude fraud scheme."

The prince has spent about $100 million in his effort to force them to pay $7 million, Derbyshire said.