Friday 29 July 2016

Lawyers for Rory McIlroy and his former agents are locked in talks over exchange of key documents, court hears

Shane Phelan Public Affairs Editor

Published 23/07/2014 | 12:31

Rory McIlroy (left) and Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland stand together on the 15th hole during the first round of the BMW Masters at Lake Malaren Golf Club on October 24, 2013 in Shanghai, China.
Rory McIlroy (left) and Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland stand together on the 15th hole during the first round of the BMW Masters at Lake Malaren Golf Club on October 24, 2013 in Shanghai, China.

LAWYERS for golfer Rory McIlroy and his former agents are locked in talks to resolve an impasse over key documents which must be produced in court as part of the bitter dispute between both sides.

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The High Court's big business division, the Commercial Court, heard the matter could be resolved by tomorrow.

The exchange of documents is taking place ahead of the newly crowned Open champion's case against Dublin firm Horizon Sports Management going to trial next year.

The agency helped negotiate McIlroy's $20m-a-year deal with sportswear giant Nike in 2012. However, the world's number two ranked golfer later parted company with the agency in acrimonious circumstances.

McIlroy has claimed he was on "markedly inferior" commercial terms than fellow golfer Graeme McDowell, despite assurances from Horizon that they both had similar packages.

Barrister Rossa Fanning, appearing for McIlroy, said today there had been "a significant degree of constructive engagement" between both sides.

"The issues of controversy between the parties have been reduced, but they have not been eliminated," he said.

Mr Fanning said he was optimistic that discovery motions could be dealt with by the court "in a two hour limit".

Mr Justice Peter Kelly said he would deal with the matter tomorrow.

McIlroy alleges he had to pay a higher commission than McDowell on lucrative off-course earnings However, Horizon has said it was not represented to McIlroy that he would be on the same commercial terms as Mr McDowell.

Horizon boss Conor Ridge has denied making any such representations.

McIlroy has also alleged that McDowell was a shareholder in Horizon.

The case is set to be played out in the Commercial Court next January and McIlroy could be in the witness box for at least two weeks.

The court has previously heard claims McIlroy timed the lawsuit against Horizon to coincide with the wedding of McDowell last September.

Horizon claimed the proceedings were initiated the day before the Florida wedding to "inflict maximum reputational damage through the media" on Mr Ridge and colleague Colin Morrissey.

Both men were attending Mr McDowell’s marriage to Kristin Stape, an American interior designer.

However, McIlroy denied this and said the timing of the lawsuit was down to him having a gap in his otherwise busy schedule.

McIlroy’s side also say he has no complaint with McDowell.

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