Friday 19 October 2018

Businessman settles action with Jedward over an alleged merchandising agreement

John and Edward Grimes arrive at the High Court yesterday. Photo: Collins
John and Edward Grimes arrive at the High Court yesterday. Photo: Collins

Aodhan O'Faolain

A Limerick businessman has settled, on confidential terms, his High Court action against "X-factor" contestants Jedward and their parents over an alleged merchandising agreement.

Patrick Joseph Noonan had claimed losses totalling some €625,000, mostly arising from the design and production of Jedward wristbands, jigsaws, boardgames and websites, but including €250,000 for loss of opportunity to sell a Jedward board game to another party. 

Identical twins John and Edward Grimes, aged 26, from Dublin and known as Jedward, were in court with their parents John Grimes and Susanna Condron when the settlement was announced. The twins wore identical purple jackets, black tops and black trousers.

Jedward got to the finals of “The X Factor” in 2009, represented Ireland twice in the Eurovision song contest and appeared in "Celebrity Big Brother".

Today, as the case was due to enter its second day, Mr Justice Donald Binchy was told by Desmond Murphy SC, for the parents and twins, there had been “substantial developments” overnight and a document required to be scrutinised by the parties.

 Mr Murphy and Patrick O’Reilly SC, for Mr Noonan, asked for time and the judge adjourned the proceedings to noon.

Before noon, before the judge and lawyers re-entered courtroom No 25, the twins came into the near empty courtroom.  As a small number of fans watched from the public gallery, one of the twins spoke into a microphone, announcing: “Jedward has entered the building”.

When the court reassembled soon afterwards, Mr O’Reilly said the case had been compromised on confidential terms between the sides.

The judge agreed to adjourn the matter to December 12 to enable the terms be concluded. He congratulated the sides on settling the case and said he wished everybody well.

Mr Noonan’s case was against the parents, whom he alleged acted as agents for Jedward in a number of meetings from August 2011, and the twins themselves. 

The defendants denied the claims. In a preliminary objection, they argued the case was bound to fail because no legal relationship existed between Mr Noonan and them and there was never any intention to create a legal relationship.

Without prejudice to that objection and denial of liability, the defendants pleaded, insofar as they and Mr Noonan were involved in a joint venture and two companies – SSA Ltd and NSD Media Ltd – were used to further that venture, any claim by Mr Noonan could only be maintained against the companies and not against the defendants.

The parents denied they acted as agents for Jedward, denied they made representations to Mr Noonan as alleged and denied any contractual relationship with him. They also denied the alleged losses and pleaded, if loss was sustained, Mr Noonan failed to mitigate that

In his action, Mr Noonan alleged it was agreed at meetings involving both or one or other of the parents, allegedly acting as agents of their sons, he was to be reimbursed for costs relating to sourcing and developing Jedward merchandise.

A civil engineer with various business interests, Mr Noonan got to meet the Grimes family as a result of knowing John Geehan, a first cousin of the twins father John Grimes senior, the court heard.

In evidence, he said he first met the twins and their mother at his home in Limerick in August 2011 and, in a memo of that meeting,  described them as “lovely lads (hyper)”.  His understanding was he would be working for them and he would get paid, he said.

He spent money personally on the merchandise before the two companies were set up and understood he would be paid for what he spent, he said.

It was also claimed, in anticipation of an exclusive merchandising contract between the twins and a UK company, Bravado, expiring about April 2012, the defendants directed Mr Noonan to start work on developing and sourcing Jedward branded merchandise to be sold by the two companies after expiry of the Bravado arrangement.

Mr O’Reilly said Mr Noonan paid for the items but had not received “one cent” for them and Jedward had not made their “best efforts” to promote the merchandise. His side knew certain items were sold and nothing was remitted to his client, counsel added.

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