€2.2m judgment against Prince


Concert promoters MCD today secured a €2.2 million judgment on consent at the Commercial Court against pop superstar Prince after a settlement of a legal dispute over the cancellation of the star’s Dublin gig was not implemented.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly entered judgment in that amount today against Prince Rogers Nelson on the application of Maurice Collins SC, for MCD, and on consent of Paul Sreenan SC, for Prince.

Counsel said the matter was in court in relation to implementation of settlement terms agreed on February 26th last. He said it was necessary to make an order for judgment for €2.2 million, inclusive of costs.

Mr Collins also indicated his side may, if necessary, take steps to enforce the judgment via a European Enforcement Order.

MCD had brought its action against Prince Rogers Nelson, Minneapolis, Minnesota, and William Morris Entertainment Endeavour (WMEE) LLC, Beverly Hills, California, over the cancellation of the concert.

The judgment order for €2.2 million is against Prince only, and the action against William Morris was struck out. Proceedings against an agent of William Morris were struck out at an earlier stage.

In making the judgment order today, Mr Justice Kelly said the matter was listed before the court for the purpose of seeing if the terms of settlement had been implemented. That had not happened so he would enter judgment in the sum sought.

The proceedings had been settled on confidential terms on February 26th last with MCD chief Denis Desmond expressing satisfaction with the outcome. Mr Desmond said he was “delighted” and added MCD would not be “out of pocket” as a result of the “unique” cancelled event. He said he remained disappointed for fans who didn’t get to see “the great performer” but MCD hoped to “do some shows” with Prince in the future.

In its proceedings, MCD claimed it only learned of the cancellation of the June 16th 2008 concert at Dublin’s Croke Park less than two weeks before that date. Tens of thousands of fans demanded refunds as a result.

The pop star had claimed the William Morris Agency had no authority to bind him to the gig but they denied that claim and argued they acted as agents for the artist under an agreement of August 2005 and had authority to negotiate on his behalf for the purpose of booking gigs.

The agency claimed the decision to cancel the Dublin event was outside of its control and had denied negligence, breach of duty and misrepresentation. WMEE said it had believed the Dublin gig was confirmed by Prince in late February.

The pop star did not appear before the hearing to give evidence, but he provided a witness statement in which he said he had “considered” performing several dates as part of a European tour to coincide with the release of a new album.

He said representatives at the agency, “understood and agreed” it would “try” to arrange “several dates” for live performances in key European cities. In late February 2008, on foot of information that he would receive $3m dollars to perform in Dublin, he said he confirmed he would be interested in “doing Dublin”.

He said his assistant, through whom all correspondence was made, and the agency, “would have known” he was “confirming” he found the Dublin concert “acceptable” as part of a proposed European tour which “was still in the negotiation phase”.

The court heard, at the end of 2007, there were offers of $22 million for seven performances across Europe but the tour did not go ahead. The agency said it was only made aware Prince would not be performing the Dublin concert in early June 2008, when two of its representatives held a meeting with the artist.

The agency also said no “specific” reason was given why Prince wished to cancel but he spoke about there being no other European dates. Prince, the court was told, became “very agitated” and said it was the agency’s “problem” as they had got him “into this mess”. When told Mr Desmond was anxious about the gig, Prince told the agents; “tell the cat to chill”, the court heard.