The Israeli lawyer at the center of Elton John’s privacy breach case

Yisrael Hiller, litigation partner at the Tel Aviv-based, international law firm Asserson, is representing Renate Blauel, Elton John’s ex-wife.

Yisrael Hiller (photo credit: Courtesy)
Yisrael Hiller
(photo credit: Courtesy)
If you see a guy playing American football in Beit Shemesh stop in the middle of a game to take a phone call, he just might be talking to the legal team for Elton John.
That’s because Yisrael Hiller, litigation partner at the Tel Aviv-based, international law firm Asserson, is representing Renate Blauel, Elton John’s ex-wife, who filed a claim in the High Court in London in July against the singer over breaches of a promise to protect her privacy.
It’s the highest profile case to date for Hiller, who spoke to The Jerusalem Post in a Zoom interview this week.
“You can’t be in this business and be intimidated by anyone on the other side, it’s not in your client’s best interests,” said Hiller.
Although John has been out of the closet for years and is now married to a man, he was married to a German woman named Renate Blauel, a sound engineer, for four years, from 1984 to 1988.
When they divorced, both signed an agreement not to discuss the other publicly, a non-disclosure agreement. But John wrote about his marriage in his 2019 autobiography, Me: Elton John Official Autobiography. She was also portrayed as a character in the 2019 film Rocketman, a movie about the musician’s life, on which John served as an executive producer. In addition, John has spoken about his ex-wife in multiple interviews. 
Blauel’s claim details the harm she has suffered as a result of having her privacy breached. Blauel, who has gone to great lengths to conceal her identity and live under the radar, has had a difficult time since release of the book and the movie, Hiller said. She has had mental-health issues in the past, and her problems were exacerbated by the release of the film and the book. She is seeking to prevent John from discussing her in the future, as well as an unspecified sum for damages.
Filing this claim “is not an easy process for her. She’s a private person and she knew that taking any step into the public eye would bring her a lot of attention, which she doesn’t want,” said Hiller. “She is doing whatever she can to minimize the disruption in her life.”
Hiller said that Blauel had no problem working with a lawyer based in Israel, and chose him based on his reputation and the reputation of his firm. So that’s how an Orthodox Jew in Israel, whose daily life is far removed from the celebrity and glamour of the pop-music industry, landed this unusual client.
“I never thought I’d be an English solicitor,” said Hiller, who is licensed to practice law both in New York and London. But although he enjoys practicing law abroad, it is important to him to raise his children in Israel, and working at Asserson has afforded him the opportunity to do that.
To those in the know, said Hiller, this lawsuit is as much about facing off against the Schillings law firm and barrister David Sherborne, who is representing John, as it is about the pop-music icon. Cases in the UK like this one often involve both the solicitors, like Asserson, and the barristers, like Sherborne.
Sherborne recently represented Johnny Depp in his current UK libel battle, as well as Meghan Markle. Hiller and Blauel have enlisted the support of barrister Adam Wolanski QC, highly regarded in his own right, who recently represented News Group Newspapers in the Depp case.
“Sherborne and Wolanski are on opposite sides in that case, and with the Elton John case, they’re facing each other again,” said Hiller.
But for Hiller, the fact that John is a celebrity and that his barrister also has a high profile may bring a lot of attention to the case, but it’s not what’s important.
“We’re here to protect our client’s interest,” he said. “The claim speaks for itself.”