Music star loses contract appeal against managers

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The Independent Online
THE POP star Shaun Ryder was ordered to pay pounds 160,000 to the management team that revived his fortunes with the band Black Grape.

The Court of Appeal yesterday threw out his claim that he did not know what he was doing when he signed an "invalid" contract. Lord Justice Thorpe said he did not want to know about the paperwork because he said "it did his nut in".

Mr Ryder, 36, who is now with the re-formed Happy Mondays, had a "difficult childhood" in Salford, Manchester, and was a registered drug addict in his teens, said the judge. In 1982 he formed Happy Mondays, which survived in its first incarnation for 10 years. "The appellant had a bad reputation... partly because of his drug abuse and partly because of his behaviour." Mr Ryder met William and Gloria Nicholl, a husband-and-wife team of an older generation and in 1993 they negotiated a publishing contract with Radioactive Records and a record deal next year.

The Nicholls drew up a management agreement binding the singer to them and setting out commission he would pay from his earnings.

Mr Ryder told a solicitor to look at the contract and amendments were made but Mr Nicholl took the original agreement for the singer to sign while he was recording in 1994. The judge said Mr Nicholl was "well aware" Mr Ryder "used cannabis more or less continuously whilst recording" and chose a time to approach the singer when he expected him to be "at his most equable" and did not mention any of the amendments. Mr Ryder agreed to sign at once and did not want to know about the contents.

Next summer the first Black Grape album topped the charts and money rolled in. The Nicholls thought Mr Ryder was blocking commission payments, while the singer thought they were claiming money not covered in the agreement.

Lawyers told Mr Ryder the contract was invalid and he sacked the Nicholls in 1996. They sued and won pounds 160,000 damages in May last year.

Yesterday Lord Justice Thorpe dismissed the appeal after rejecting the argument that Mr Ryder's ignorance about the contract should have been taken into account.