Spice Girls saddled with £1m legal bill after court defeat

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The Independent Online

The Spice Girls are facing a £1m legal bill after three senior judges ruled yesterday that they were guilty of misrepresenting Geri Halliwell's departure from the band.

The Court of Appeal upheld a claim by the scooter company Aprilia that the singers knew Ginger Spice was to leave before they signed a £500,000 contract to promote its vehicles three years ago.

Ms Halliwell quit the band shortly after the deal was signed, turning the agreement into a "total and very expensive marketing flop", according to a legal claim by Aprilia World Service.

When the Italian-based manufacturer refused to make any more payments to the band members, the Spice Girls launched their legal action, claiming £100,000 in unpaid fees, £112,250 in guaranteed royalties on sales of the Sonic Spice scooter and £6,000 for scooters promised to them.

All five members of the band, including Ms Halliwell, took the case to the Court of Appeal after Mrs Justice Arden ruled in favour of Aprilia in August last year in the High Court. The group wanted the judges to quash Mrs Justice Arden's ruling that they should pay £45,550 damages for scooters Aprilia did supply to the women plus legal costs.

Ian Mill QC, representing the Spice Girls, had told the court there were no talks among group members about Ms Halliwell's departure before the Aprilia deal was signed.

The band claim they signed the deal with Aprilia in March 1998 and that Ms Halliwell announced her intention to leave the following month. At first she said she would not be leaving until the end of an American tour in September that year, but she changed her mind and quit without warning in May.

Aprilia counter-appealed for damages for misrepresentation. The Vice Chancellor, Sir Andrew Morritt, Lord Justice Chadwick and Lord Justice Rix awarded Aprilia all its costs of the hearings and more than £45,550 damages, totalling about £1m.