The pricing on the cake

The music business, legendary for excess and outrageous behaviour, also has its fair share of lawyers whose methods could be described most charitably as ‘unusual’.

Take the story of one well-known London-based lawyer who, on receiving a postcard from his internationally famous rock star client, promptly billed him for reading it. How’s that for creativity?

An even more delicious tale comes from a partner at a well-known music boutique. Several years ago the partner, at the time working in-house, found himself with an international record contract dispute on his hands. The dispute, brought by a well-known artist, centred on royalties, and specifically the amount the artist was due under his current deal.

The case called for local advice from the Netherlands and, being unfamiliar with the Dutch market, the artist plumped for one of the country’s largest firms. The lawyer assured his Dutch counterpart that this was an open-and-shut case, one they could not lose. The Dutch lawyer agreed and outlined the strategy to be used in court. She forgot to mention one detail, however; one that our English friend only found out about after the news came through that the case had been lost. Put it down to language difficulties, but when the English lawyer had spoken of “dividing up the royaly cake”, the Dutch lawyer appears to have taken him slightly too literally. She took a real cake into court and cut it up into slices for the judge. Maybe he didn’t like her cooking.