Eversheds fights Bob Marley royalty claim

Eversheds and West End firm Hamlins have been fighting a High Court dispute between reggae legend Bob Marley’s record company and former guitarist Aston ‘Family Man’ Barrett over unpaid royalties.

Eversheds partner Nick Valner is acting for Marley’s estate and record company, Universal Island Records, defending against Barrett’s allegations that he has not received royalties due from a 1974 recording contract and that the defendants have infringed copyright.

Hamlins partner Laurence Gilmore is representing Barrett, who is suing on behalf of himself and his brother Carlton ‘Carly’ Barrett, the drummer for Bob Marley & The Wailers in the 1970s who was murdered in 1987.

The Barretts and Marley’s estate have previously been involved in three disputes, two in New York and one in Jamaica, over various royalty issues. Those disputes eventually resulted in a 1994 settlement between Aston Barrett and the Marley estate, in which Barrett was paid $500,000 (£285,000) plus $100,000 (£57,000) legal costs.

The present claim was launched in 2002 by the Barretts’ then solicitors Charles Russell, asserting for the first time that they were party to a 1974 recording agreement.

The case has already been through the High Court once. In 2003, Mr Justice Laddie heard an application brought by the defendants to have the case thrown out. He dismissed the application, noting that the issues were “complex and difficult to unravel” and needed to be heard in a full trial.

In March this year a 20-day High Court hearing began before Mr Justice Lewison, prompting a torrent of media attention.

Valner is instructing Serle Court Chambers’ Liz Jones QC for the defendants. Gilmore has instructed Stephen Bate of 5 Raymond Buildings.

Valner has also been fighting a case for The Beatles’ record company Apple Corps, which is suing Apple Computer for breaching a 1991 agreement over selling music.