The Memo: Kelly Fisher, Dodi Fayed and a breach of contract law in the wake of The Crown

Group 723.png

Kelly Fisher, Dodi Fayed and a breach of contract law in the wake of The Crown

Tyler Rigby – 27 November 2023

Spoiler warning for the new season of the Crown! The Netflix hit has finally reached the point in history that viewers have long anticipated: the tragic death of Princess Diana. But before you get too excited, this particular case revolves around the ‘other woman’, Kelly Fisher and her ex-fiancé Dodi Fayed, who perished along with Diana in Paris on the 31st august 1997.

Before the car accident that claimed their lives, Diana and Fayed’s romantic relationship was exposed with a now infamous picture of the pair kissing on the latter’s yacht in St Tropez. This revelation was news to Kelly Fisher as well, as she discovered that the man she was engaged to was having an affair with a former royal. Her response to this betrayal? A $440,000 lawsuit for breach of contract.  Unconventional as it may be to sue someone for breaking off an engagement (not even officially, but via the aforementioned press photos), Fisher and her lawyer claimed emotional turmoil in addition to the fact Fayed had pushed for Fisher to put her career second to him as driving factors for the claim.

Of course, the claim never saw its day in court and after the deaths of Diana and Fayed, Fisher dropped the lawsuit out of respect for Fayed’s family (even though legally she was within her rights to pursue the claim against his estate after his death), but could such a claim get very far in the English courts? The short answer is no, not really. Compensation is rarely afforded to any case of breach of contract in the UK as it is largely based on proving tangible loss. In terms of mental stress, anguish and even just inconvenience to time, UK law rarely awards damages for such consequences in traditional cases of contract breach lawsuits. So, when it comes to suing for breach of contract regarding an engagement, it seems almost impossible to succeed within this country. Netflix’s fictional version of the princess even quips that she did not know you could sue someone for falling out of love with you, and it turns out you probably can’t.