Prince told to furnish documents in MCD case

 

A HIGH Court judge has warned pop musician Prince and his US lawyers he will not tolerate any prevarication over the discovery of documents sought for a legal action against the artist over the cancellation of his Croke Park gig in summer 2008.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly said yesterday it appeared letters sent from October last by lawyers acting for MCD Productions seeking discovery of documents from lawyers for Prince had been completely ignored and he would now make orders compelling discovery.

The documents must be discovered by January 4th next and the trial will go ahead as scheduled in the Commercial Court on February 23rd, the judge said.

The trial may involve evidence by video-link from the US.

Counsel for Prince said there was no effort to sabotage the trial, and Prince’s Irish lawyers had written to their US counterparts a number of times stressing the importance of making discovery and also stating the documents sought were not unreasonable.

The matter had become more complicated as another lawyer, from New York, had come into the case for Prince, he added.

Counsel accepted his side should have informed the plaintiff of what was happening and added that he would make the judge’s comments known to his counterparts in the US.

Mr Justice Kelly said he did not care how many lawyers were involved and that Prince would have to take the consequences if the discovery order was ignored.

The court would not tolerate any prevarication by Prince or his US lawyers and the discovery issues would now be made the subject of court orders, he said.

There was no excuse for the failure to tell MCD what was happening in relation to discovery, with the result they had had to apply to the court to address the problem, the judge added.

The judge was dealing with pre-trial matters in the proceedings by MCD for some €1.6 million damages over the cancellation of the gig, set for June 16th, 2008.

The action by MCD is against Prince Rogers Nelson; William Morris Endeavour Entertainment LLC, of Beverly Hills, California; and Tony Goldring, alleged agents for Prince.

William Morris claims that on February 26th, 2008, it entered into a contract with MCD for Prince to perform at Croke Park on June 16th, 2008, for “an artist’s guaranteed fee of $3 million” (€2.04 million).

It claims MCD transferred $1.5 million, half of the agreed fee, to an account of William Morris.

It is also admitted that, about June 6th, 2008, MCD was notified by William Morris that Prince wished to cancel the concert.

The defendants say Prince refused to travel to Dublin and gave “no reason of substance” for this. William Morris and Mr Goldring say the decision to cancel was outside their control, and they returned $1.5 million to MCD. They deny negligence, breach of duty or misrepresentation.

MCD’s Denis Desmond has said, while it was normal industry practice for concert promoters to get insurance against cancellation, no policy would insure against cancellation due to “a whim” of the artist.

MCD could not recoup its extensive financial losses by bringing an insurance claim. It had to refund some 55,126 tickets purchased and its total losses exceeded $1.66 million, he said.

An appearance on behalf of Prince was entered last May by Gerald Kean, solicitor, and the star’s lawyers have argued the MCD claim was “greatly inflated”.