Monday 21 January 2019

Court calls for peace talks over McIlroy dispute

A High Court judge has ordered the world's number one golfer Rory McIlroy and his former management company, Horizon Sports Management, to engage in peace talks a week before he is due to play in the Ryder Cup.

McIlroy's legal battle with Horizon also involves the affairs of his Ryder Cup team mate Graeme McDowell and Mr Justice Brian McGovern said it involved such sensitive matters that the sides should engage in mediation.

McIlroy and McDowell are currently with the European team at the Gleneagles Hotel and Golf Resort in Scotland where they await the arrival of the US team to do battle for the Ryder Cup.

Barrister Rossa Fanning, counsel for McIlroy, stressed to the court that McIlroy had no issue with McDowell but undoubtedly in the run-up to the competition, which begins next Tuesday, the world's top golfer will have to consult with his legal team about the new developments.

During an application for discovery of a new tranche of documents, many relating to Graeme McDowell's contractual relationship with Horizon, the judge said some issues were so sensitive as to make the case highly suitable for mediation. The court granted limited discovery of documents.

Judge McGovern told lawyers for both sides that the court had the power to stay the proceedings for not more than 28 days to allow consideration of mediation or arbitration to take place.

He said he would not bar progress of the case, which is due to be heard on February 3 next, but would direct that the parties engage in mediation over the next 28 days.

"Is this not a case that is made for mediation?" he asked Mr Fanning, for McIlroy, and Ciaran Lewis for Horizon and two related defendants.

"The case has all sorts of sensitivities involving two players on tour, a manager of one of them and a former manager or agent of the other. It has all sorts of complex issues involving relationship matters," the judge said.

Judge McGovern said: "It seems to me to be a case made for the mediation process."

Mr Lewis told Judge McGovern that he had sought instructions from the defendants over lunch and he had been directed to inform the court that the defendants would be willing to engage in mediation.


McIlroy has claimed he got markedly inferior representation terms compared to fellow golfer McDowell despite alleged representations that he would get similar terms.

He alleges it was represented to him by Conor Ridge of Horizon that he would get the same terms as McDowell regarding on course earnings, off course earnings, bonuses and commission, fees and charges.

Horizon dispute this version of events.


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