Novel victory for La Collins in her finest role ever

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The Independent Online
Joan Collins sauntered away last night from her breach-of-contract court battle with Random House, her former publisher, with her her wallet and honour restored, and with her face back where she likes it: on the front pages.

After only two hours of deliberation, the jury delivered a split decision in the lawsuit brought against her by Random House. But financially and psychologically, the judgment favoured the actress.

"It ended two years of absolute hell," Collins said outside the courthouse in Manhattan, raising a clenched fist.

Random House had attempted to reclaim $1.2m (pounds 800m) in advances paid under a contract signed in 1990, under which she was meant to deliver two novels. The publisher argued Collins failed to produce two "complete" manuscripts and broke her contract.

The jury concluded Collins submitted a complete manuscript in 1991, for the first book, A Ruling Passion, but that the second manuscript in 1992, Hell Hath No Fury, was a reworking of the first book.

For Collins that verdict was enough. Her lawyers calculate she will keep all the original advance, and be owed an additional $800m by Random House. "I consider this a victory." she said. "Right was on my side".

For the publishing house the outcome was a humiliation. The entire industry had hoped Random House would prevail. Collins's victory may make it harder for publishers to challenge authors when they think contracts have not been fulfilled.

For all of her eye-dabbingCollins has ridden the trial as though it was the book tour from Heaven. Had Random House actually published the two novels, she could not hoped to have such media exposure. Last night she said she planned a second autobiography, the heart of which would be her run-in with Random House.

Collins herself, in feisty spirits when she was called back to the stand for the last time earlier yesterday, spoke of sabotage. Referring to the Random House lawyers, she complained: "They are trying to hold me up to ridicule and public humiliation".

Random House had been thin legal ground, as its original contract unusually had not included clauses on quality standards, so the only requirement had been to submit two "complete" manuscripts.