independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

Hearing of bitter Electric Picnic dispute to take place in new year

Alex Turner from Arctic Monkeys on stage at the Electric Picnic 2013.

A HEARING of the bitter dispute between music promoter John Reynolds and the Electric Picnic Festival operating company over a series of issues relating to handling of the annual event is expected to take place at the Commercial Court early next year.

Tickets for the 2014 Festival will go on sale this month but, as a result of a number of matters and what Mr Justice Peter Kelly described as the under-estimation by the parties of the time required for legal disclosure (discovery) of documents, the case cannot be heard before the end of this year.

Both sides say they are anxious for the dispute to be speedily resolved and they blamed each other for delays when the matter came before the judge yesterday for case management purposes.

The delays arose due to factors including a failed mediation of the dispute and the need to hold a hearing to decide whether the court should first determine a preliminary issue concerning liability, the court heard.

In those and other circumstances, the case has been unable to get on but the sides have now agreed a time line related to exchange of legal documents required for the hearing to decide liability. That process will continue to early February after which a trial date is expected to be finalised.

In proceedings brought against Festival Republic Dublin Ltd (FRD, under the Companies Acts, Mr Reynolds has alleged a refusal to allow him operate the festival as envisaged.

He claims that alleged refusal is causing considerable hardship and risk to POD Music Ltd.  FRD had in 2009 bought for €4.2m a 71 per cent stake in EP Festivals Ltd, a subsidiary of POD Music.

Mr Reynolds alleges management decisions made by Melvin Benn of FRD relating to the 2012 and 2013 picnics were damaging to POD Music Ltd, the 100 per cent shareholder of EP Republic Ltd, but were to the benefit of the FRD Group.

In opposing the claims, FRD alleges Mr Reynolds had been engaging in a deliberately obstructive pattern of behaviour and was seeking to have his shares bought out at "grossly inflated prices".

It denies Mr Reynolds has been excluded from managing the Picnic or that the FRD Group's controlling companies, Live Nation and Gaiety Investments, want to make the Picnic just part of their stable of festivals and outdoor events.

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