Northern Ireland news

Carl Frampton awarded most of legal bill in Barry McGuigan case

Boxer Carl Frampton (right) leaves the High Court in Belfast with solicitor John Finucane earlier this week. Picture by Hugh Russell 

CARL Frampton has been awarded most of his legal bill in securing the right to have his lawsuit against former manager Barry McGuigan heard in Northern Ireland.

A High Court judge has already decided the former world champion's actions over allegedly withheld earnings should take place in Belfast rather than London.

Based on that outcome Mr Justice Horner held today that Mr Frampton is entitled to the majority of his costs in determining the preliminary jurisdictional issue.

No reimbursement will be made, however, until the main trial is dealt with.

The Belfast boxer is suing Barry McGuigan, his wife Sandra McGuigan and Cyclone Promotions (UK) Ltd, claiming a failure to pay purse money from his bouts.

Mr Frampton's solicitor, John Finucane, welcomed the verdict reached on the initial legal bill for getting the case heard in Belfast.

He said: "The financial burden of the McGuigans' failed attempt to dispute the High Court's jurisdiction should not fall on my client. 

"This has been recognized by the court in awarding Carl the vast majority of his costs to date, as costs in his legal cause."

Mr Finucane added: "It is also right that the McGuigans have been left to bear the entirety of their own costs to date. 

"We will now focus our attention in preparing this case for a full hearing, which we expect to take place expeditiously and which we look forward to."

The Tigers Bay-born fighter's two writs form the basis of his counter-claim to separate proceedings brought against him by the McGuigan family-run Cyclone Promotions at the High Court in London.

Nicknamed 'The Jackal', the 31-year-old former two-weight world champion split with Cyclone last year.

He is facing an action from his former promoters for alleged breach of contract.

Mr Frampton is counter-suing on a number of grounds, including an alleged appropriation of fight earnings and a breach of the terms of an International Promotional Agreement (IPA).

His lawsuit refers to contracts for bouts in Northern Ireland, England and the United States.

It involves claims against the now dissolved Cyclone Promotions UK Ltd, of which Mr and Mrs McGuigan were directors, over purse fees, broadcasting rights, ticket sales and merchandising from Mr Frampton's second world title match against Leo Santa Cruz in Las Vegas in January 2017.

Carl Frampton in the ring with Leo Santa Cruz as they fight for the WBA featherweight title at the MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas in January 2017. Picture by William Cherry, Presseye

During the initial hearing on jurisdiction it was alleged that Mr Frampton's deteriorating relationship with his former manager and promoter ended after the taxman called at his home about a company VAT bill for almost £400,000.

He said the cracks first appeared when he was allegedly "fobbed off" about being paid after defeating rival Scott Quigg in Februay 2016.

In a sworn statement he accused Mr McGuigan of abusing the trust he placed in him to look after his career.

Lawyers for the McGuigans insisted all of the allegations are categorically denied.

Earlier this week, at a hearing on costs, they hit back at the fighter's claims and how they were made at a preliminary stage in the action.

Counsel representing Mr McGuigan accused of Mr Frampton of lying about profit arrangements as part of a bid to blacken his client's name in public.

He described the "vast amount" of the boxer's assertions as "inventions", and said reference made to a 30% share of the profits of promotions was "simply dishonest".

Due to other commitments Mr Justice Horner is handing the case to another judge.

But before doing so he ruled on the initial dispute over the bill for the preliminary legal issue.

With the main case expected to come on for hearing sooner in Belfast than it would in London, he pointed out both sides are likely to incur "much more modest" costs.

He stressed it will be for the trial judge to determine where the truth lies in the claims and counter-claims.  

"I consider that it would be unfair for Frampton to be given the costs of this application now if it should turn out that the allegations he had made against the Cyclone Connection were baseless, as the Cyclone Connection claims," Mr Justice Horner said.

Although the boxer succeeded on the main issue of jurisdiction, he lost on other points such as the McGuigans' domicile.

On that basis, the judge held: "I award Frampton two-thirds of his costs in the first claim and nine-tenths of his costs in the second claim."

He confirmed it was to be "costs in the cause" - meaning the plaintiff's entitlement still depends on the ultimate outcome.

A statement issued last night on behalf of Barry and Sandra McGuigan and Cyclone Promotions Limited Companies welcomed the decision, saying it "means that Mr Frampton can only recover costs of this application if he wins outright in the case and even if that were to occur he can only recover a proportion of the costs of this application". 

It added: "They are focused on preparing the case for hearing and are confident that the position as outlined by their senior counsel earlier in the week will be vindicated."

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Barry McGuigan and Carl Frampton at a Belfast press conference in 2013

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