The Rolling Stones have suffered a setback in their attempt to claim bigger royalty payments from their former record label Decca.
A High Court judge threw out the band's application yesterday to force an independent audit of the company's accounts.
Lawyers for the surviving members of the band - vocalist Mick Jagger, guitarist Keith Richards and drummer Charlie Watts - say an audit might show they have been short-changed over sales of their 40th anniversary greatest-hits compilation, 40 Licks.
Under the terms of a 1976 agreement between Decca and the surviving members of the band, however, contentions over royalties have to be referred to arbitration and not settled in the courts, said Justice Pumfrey. He imposed a "stay" and said the dispute should proceed to arbitration.
The Stones were named in February as the most profitable band in history, grossing £45m a year. Last year, they embarked on the 40 Licks world tour and simultaneously released the two-CD greatest-hits album, which made the Top 30 in the album charts.
More than three million fans in America, Australia, Europe and Asia bought tickets for the concerts, each also spending around £7 on merchandise.