Business News Legal

Hooky sues his former New Order bandmates

By | Published on Tuesday 1 December 2015

New Order

So this could be fun. Except for everyone directly involved, of course. Apart from the lawyers. Who’ll be quids in, as always. So, yes, Peter Hook is suing his former New Order bandmates.

It’s a legal battle that’s been a long time coming really, given Hook’s relationship with his ex-bandmates has long been estranged, and all the more so since they started performing as New Order again without him. Though in the High Court, judge David Cooke has rejected allegations Hook is simply suing his former colleagues out of spite, clearing the way for the bassist to take his litigation to a full hearing.

Hook’s allegations centre on the business arrangements of New Order since the band reformed without him in 2011.

Ever since the collapse of New Order’s original label Factory Records back in 1992, the band has had a company that holds all of the outfit’s rights, and in which Hook has a 25% stake. But in 2011, the other three original members – Bernard Sumner, Stephen Morris and Gillian Gilbert – set up a new company to run the band’s current operations, with the existing band company granting exclusive rights to the New Order name and related sources of income to the new business for ten years.

It’s this arrangement that Hook objects to, with his legal rep Mark Wyeth calling the licensing deal a “clandestine, premeditated and deliberate” move to freeze his client out of income that he is due. Hook claims that the arrangement had cost him £2.3 million as of last year.

Stating Hook’s case in evocative terms, according to the BBC, Wyeth told the court: “It was as though George Harrison and Ringo Starr had got together at George’s house one Friday night and had acted together to divest Paul McCartney of his shareholding in the Beatles, and didn’t tell Yoko about it either”.

Speaking for the current incarnation of New Order, lawyer David Casement rejected Hook’s claims entirely. He insisted his clients had been “entirely reasonable” in the way they structured the band’s business once the bassist was no longer part of the set-up, and that the royalties Hook receives from New Order’s ongoing activities were totally fair.

Putting forward the argument that Hook was basically pursuing a vendetta with this action, Casement told the court that “because of his non-inclusion [in current New Order activities, Hook chose] to bring this claim in order to leverage some advantage from Mr Sumner and the rest of the band”.

With the judge green-lighting Hook’s litigation, it remains to be seen if this matter now properly gets to court. If it does, it could be a lively legal battle.