Tuesday 21 October 2014

McIlroy could spend two weeks on stand in bitter court battle

Published 24/07/2014 | 02:30

An Augusta win would complete a career grand slam for Rory McIlroy
An Augusta win would complete a career grand slam for Rory McIlroy

There seems little prospect that the bitter dispute between golfer Rory McIlroy and his former agents will be settled out of court, the Irish Independent has learned.

Sources close to ongoing talks between lawyers for both sides have indicated the case is likely to go to a full trial next year.

Those talks, which have been ongoing for several days, have been limited to the issue of documents that may be involved in the case.

There has been no discussion about a possible resolution of the complaint made by McIlroy against Dublin firm Horizon Sports Management.

Should the case go to trial, it is expected McIlroy could spend at least two weeks in the stand.

The world's number-two ranked golfer instituted proceedings against the Dublin firm, claiming that he had been on a worse deal than another high-profile client, fellow major winner Graeme McDowell.

The High Court's big business division, the Commercial Court, heard yesterday that talks related to discovery motions were ongoing and could be resolved today.

The exchange of documents is taking place ahead of the case going to trial next January.

The agency helped negotiate McIlroy's $20m (€14.85m) a year deal with sportswear giant Nike in 2012. However, the newly crowned British Open winner later parted company with the agency in acrimonious circumstances.

Packages

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

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

"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 today.

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 McDowell.

Horizon boss Conor Ridge has denied making any such representations. McIlroy has also alleged that McDowell was a shareholder in Horizon.

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

McIlroy denied this.

Irish Independent

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