Thursday 22 February 2018

McIlroy granted access to files in agency dispute

Rory McIlroy after his victory. Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images
Rory McIlroy after his victory. Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Tim Healy

OPEN-winning golfer Rory McIlroy has been granted access to key documents surrounding fellow golfer Graeme McDowell's involvement with a sports management agency.

Just days after lifting the Claret Jug, Mr McIlroy's lawyers were back before the courts ahead of his case against Dublin firm Horizon Sports Management going to trial next year.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly yesterday made the ruling on the documents sought in the action in the dispute, as Mr McIlroy alleges they involved "unreasonable" fee rates and commissions.

The agency helped negotiate Mr McIlroy's $20m-a-year deal (€14.8m) with sportswear giant Nike in 2012. However, he later parted company with the agency.

The golfer alleges the agreement resulted in his paying more than $6.8m (€5m) based on "unreasonable" fee rates and the defendants are not entitled to be paid fees into the future related to his Nike deal.

The Commercial Court heard Mr McIlroy claims undue influence, and alleges Conor Ridge of Horizon made representations to him that he would get similar terms to Graeme McDowell.

Barrister Rossa Fanning said his client had relied on those representations which turned out to be untrue as his client's terms were significantly inferior to Mr McDowell's.

Mr McIlroy was also unaware, either when discussing the representation agreement with Conor Ridge in October 2011 or signing it, that Mr McDowell had a shareholding in Horizon.

The judge yesterday ruled Mr McIlroy was entitled to all documents held by the defendants related to McDowell's involvement with Horizon, including concerning Mr McDowell's shareholding in that company.

Lawyers for the defendants previously told the court it was never represented to McIlroy the terms to apply to him were identical to those of McDowell.

It was rather agreed the terms would be similar to those under an agreement with his former agent, International Sports Management, and he had indicated he was satisfied with that.

The case, against Dublin-based Horizon Sports Management Ltd; Gurteen Limited, with a registered address in Malta, and Dublin-based Canovan Management Services, is listed for hearing from January 27 next.

Mr McIlroy disputes claims he had a representation agreement with Gurteen or Canovan rather than with Horizon. The defendants are denying Mr McIlroy's claims and have counter-claimed for some $3m.

Irish Independent

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