Archive : December 1996 (Court case/test)
Dec. 29 96
(Thanks again to Rachel Mckeon
for the updates)
Final reports on the
court case (edited by
* Manchester Evening News
(went to press before verdict was announced):
Stephen Morrissey, 36, [sic, sic, sic!] now of
Bowdon Road, Bowdon, near Altrincham, and Mr Marr
said that both men knew their share was to be 10
per cent each and that they had accepted it by
not leaving the group...
criticised the long delay in resolving the
dispute, which began when final accounts were
produced two years after The Smiths dissolved in
amazing that we have only got here after seven
years," he said.
The four band
members barely acknowledged each others' presence
throughout the court hearing.
own counsel, Ian Mill, admitted that his client's
attitude had on occasion "betrayed a degree
Earlier, the judge
said he was astonished that Morrissey could not
remember the night he starred on Top of the Pops.
"The Smiths' first time on Top of the Pops
and your client cannot remember that
evening?" Judge Weeks asked Mr Mill.
The appearance, in
January 1984, was significant because on that day
Mr Marr phoned Morrissey to say that Mr Joyce
would not accept a suggested 10 per cent share of
the group's profits.
said:"To Morrissey the success of The Smiths
"He had an
inherent belief that his partnership with Johnny
Marr would succeed and that an appearance on Top
of the Pops was an inevitable and automatic step
along the way."
* * * *
* The Independent 12/12/96 (under the headline
'Devious, truculent and unreliable')
and Marr] claimed there was an agreement that
they would get all the profits from publishing
and 40 per cent each from other royalties. But
Joyce claimed he was never told he was going to
be paid only 10 per cent of record and performing
said that when Joyce applied for a mortgage, his
accountant wrote to the building society stating
his share of the annual income of the band was in
excess of £20,000, which the accounts showed was
a 25 per cent share of the profits from 1984 and
When Joyce was
sent a copy of the group's accounts in July 1986,
he put it in a drawer without studying it. Judge
Weeks said he was satisfied that even if he had
looked at the figures, he would not have realised
the implications and that he was receiving a 10
per cent share.
It was only when
the group dissolved in 1987 that Joyce realised
what had been happening. He showed the accounts
to a friend who had accountancy knowledge and he
began his legal battle for an equal share.
In 1989, Andy
Rourke, the group's bass guitarist who had fought
a battle with heroin addiction, was
"desperately short of money" and
settled with Marr and Morrissey for £83,000 and
10 per cent of royalties, giving up all further
When Marr and
Morrissey eventually admitted there had been a
partnership agreement in November last year, they
paid over £273,000 to Joyce as settlement of 10
per cent of The Smiths' profits.
Judge Weeks said
all four had no business experience, having left
school between the ages of 15 and 16 with few
qualifications, but that Morrissey took all the
decisions. At 23, he was four years older than
the other members and more assertive and although
he controlled the group's finances, he
"lacked the will" to tell Rourke and
Joyce of his decisions over profit sharing.
"He left it
to Mr Marr to give the unpalatable news to the
other two," the judge said.
Joyce said after
the hearing:"I still have the highest regard
for Morrissey but always knew 10 years ago when I
started this action that I would win. This was
never about money. It will not change my
lifestyle but it will secure the future for my
wife and children."
Morrissey, who was
not in court for yesterday's judgment, in a
statement issued through his solicitors,
said:"I am disappointed and surprised at the
judge's decision, particularly given the weight
of evidence against Mike Joyce's claim. I will be
considering the terms of judgment with my
solicitors to assess possible grounds for
appeal." Marr refused to comment and left
the court building immediately.
* * *
* The Times 12/12/96 (the story actually made
it onto the front page, with a longer article and
recent pictures of Morrissey and Mike appearing
on page three)
not in court to hear the judgment go against him.
Marr, flanked by his lawyers, left looking
shocked, pale and refusing to comment.
Joyce, 33, who is
hoping for chart success with his new, two-man
band Wah Now, said he brought the case because he
was concerned about the future of his daughters
Fay, 8, and Olivia, 3. He said:"I am
delighted but, at the moment, I just feel a bit
shocked. I want to go home and see my wife and my
children whom I have missed over the past couple
of weeks. I did not bring this action for the
money. No lifestyles are going to change
After a seven-day
hearing, Judge Weeks said he preferred the
evidence of Joyce and Rourke, who had dropped out
of the action after accepting £83,000.
Describing the "credibility" of the
four partners, the judge said Joyce and Rourke
impressed him as "straightforward and
honest", although without great intellectual
was more complicated and didn't find giving
evidence easy or a happy experience. He was
devious, truculent and unreliable when his own
interests were at stake." The judge said
Marr was "a more engaging personality"
and "a more reasonable character" and
the most intelligent of the four "but seemed
to me to be willing to embroider his evidence to
a point where he became less credible".
The judge said
there was no evidence of a 40-40, 10-10 agreement
for splitting the profits and there never was an
assumption by Joyce and Rourke that that was what
they would get...
the dominant character who kept a tight grip on
the purse strings. He treated the lesser known
members of the band merely as session musicians,
it was claimed. After the group split up Joyce
discovered, for the first time, that the profits
had not been shared equally. He began a legal
action to recover royalties for the recordings
and profits from the concerts by the group, paid
to a company called Smithdom Ltd...
* * *
* Daily Star 12/12/96 (not much of interest in
the article but includes new pictures of Mike and
Moz - the one of Moz is really nice but I'm
afraid I haven't got a scanner)
Morrissey - sometimes branded a "control
freak" and "arrogant" - was once
asked if Rourke and Joyce had had a bad deal. He
replied:"They were lucky. "If they'd
had another singer they'd never have got further
than Salford shopping centre." Outside the
High Court yesterday Joyce said:"The
decision will secure my family's future."
* * *
* Daily Telegraph 12/12/96 (the article is
accompanied by a potted history of the Smiths, an
amusing picture of Andy with long hair and
pictures of Mike and Moz - all taken outside the
said that shortly after Joyce and Rourke joined
the other two in 1982, Marr and Morrissey signed
a "curious document" that claimed they
had contractual rights over other members of the
band. It was never shown to Joyce and Rourke.
The court heard
earlier how Morrissey and Marr had an inflated
opinion of their own importance in the band.
Morrissey had regarded Joyce and Rourke as
"mere session musicians, as readily
replaceable as the parts in a lawnmower".
The singer told
the court he kept back nearly £500,000 in
royalties because other band members
"weren't interested in business". Five
years after the group split, Mike Joyce was
eventually paid back £270,000...
* * *
* The Express 12/12/96 (includes a lovely picture
of Mike arriving at court in a suit)
said:"Joyce and Rourke impressed me as
straightforward and honest, unintellectual and
certainly not financially sophisticated."...
described Marr as "a more engaging
character. He was probably the more intelligent
of the four, but seemed prepared to embroider his
* * *
* Daily Mail 12/12/96 (includes a picture of Moz
arriving at court the previous week - I think
it's the same picture the NME used)
...The judge said,
however, that Joyce and Rourke impressed him as
"straightforward and honest" although
they were "not intellectuals and certainly
not financially sophisticated or aware"...
seven-day hearing, Judge Weeks said he preferred
Rourke and Joyce's evidence that they were never
told they would receive only one-tenth of the
group's earnings. He said no formal contract was
signed or verbal agreement made about profit
oldest and most assertive band member, held the
purse strings. He and Marr signed the accounts on
behalf of the Smiths...
* * *
* Daily Mirror 12/12/96 (no new information in
this article - although Marr is amusingly
described as Morrissey's "ex-sidekick"
- the article also includes a new picture of Moz)