Harbottle gets happy ending in film fee dispute

Media boutique Harbottle & Lewis settled its case against Hollywood producer Israel Baron after two days in the High Court just before Christmas.

The firm accused Baron of deliberately defrauding it in a bid to avoid paying legal fees.

It claimed that Baron had instructed it to act on behalf of film-maker AIM Entertainment on a copyright claim brought against it over the film Chopin.

Baron is alleged to have neglected to clarify who would be paying the legal fees, with Harbottle claiming he deliberately used a series of similar-sounding company names to confuse the firm.

Under cross-examination from Sean O’Sullivan of 4 Pump Court, Baron alleged that Harbottle agreed to delay the payment until the film had received financing.

Baron failed to include the allegation in any earlier witness statements given throughout the case, which spanned two years and which was heard in courts on both sides of the Atlantic.

On 18 December Baron also faced tough questioning from the presiding judge, Mr Justice Thomas Morrison.

Morrison J raised questions about Baron’s conflicting witness statements, asking why he had neglected to include allegations about the payment period in his earlier witness statements.

Harbottle managing partner Lawrence Abramson, who took the stand on 17 December to defend the firm’s client-handling process, said the firm had had no choice but to pursue Baron through the courts to recover the fees.

Jonathan Bellamy of 39 Essex Street Chambers represented Baron.