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Sunday 17 December 2017

Rory McIlroy settles case with €22m payment to agency

Rory McIlroy, pictured, has settled his contract dispute with his former agent Conor Ridge of Horizon Sports Management
Rory McIlroy, pictured, has settled his contract dispute with his former agent Conor Ridge of Horizon Sports Management

Golfer Rory McIlroy's has settled his court case with his former management company for a reported €22m.

The settlement, plus legal costs, will be made to Horizon as a once-off payment to resolve the long-running dispute between the sides over a contract signed in 2011.

Following day-long negotiations on Tuesday, Paul Gallagher, SC for Mr McIlroy told the Commercial Court that the parties were grateful for the time given for talks and the entire matter had been settled.

Read more: Rory McIlroy settles legal case with former agent

Mr McIlroy was not in court for yesterday's announcement, but posted a picture on his Instagram account of his private jet at Dublin Airport as he left the country.

Mr Justice Brian Cregan congratulated all parties on reaching agreement in what had been a long-running case.

In a brief joint statement afterwards, it said the case between Mr McIlroy and Horizon Sports Management had been "settled to the satisfaction of both parties who wish each other well for the future".

In December 2011, a formal agreement was entered into at the offices of solicitors William Fry during Horizon's Christmas party in "circumstances of great informality" when Mr McIlroy says he had received no independent legal advice and without receiving any draft of the agreement.

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That agreement gave Horizon complete control over his affairs, including his commercial activities, and placed the defendants in a "position of great trust", it was alleged.

The case was expected to last eight weeks. Mr McIlroy attended court on Tuesday and sat in a reserved bench. Mr McIlroy claimed he paid more than $6.8m to Horizon based on unreasonable fee rates "many times greater" than is standard in the sports agency industry.

He wanted the court to cancel the allegedly "restrictive", "unconscionable" and "oppressive" agreements with Horizon and related companies on grounds including alleged negligence, breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty.

The defendant companies denied the claims and counter- sued Mr McIlroy, arguing that the golfer received "extraordinary benefits" from their work and he was seeking to avoid his contractual responsibilities.

Horizon managing director Conor Ridge initially made a verbal agreement for the company to act as McIlroy's agent following a presentation at the golfer's Belfast home.

In 2013, there was an amendment to the December 2011 agreement, which was for three years, in which Gurteen Ltd was to be entitled to 20pc of all pre-tax sums paid to Mr McIlroy under a contract signed with Nike in late 2012.

The case was against the Dublin-based companies Horizon Sports Management Ltd and Canovan Management Services, and Gurteen Ltd with a registered address in Malta.

hnews@herald.ie

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