New Order returned with their first album of new material in over a decade earlier this year, and now former bassist Peter Hook is suing the remaining original members over royalties. According to BBC, Hook is accusing Bernard Sumner, Stephen Morris, and Gillian Gilbert of “pillaging” the group’s assets — he’s asking for over £2.3 million that he claims he’s lost out on.
In 1992, the four members of the group formed Vitalturn to hold the band’s rights after their record label dissolved. They each took a quarter-percent cut of the company, and Hook held onto his 25% when he left the band in 2007.
The three remaining members set up a new company, New Order Ltd., in 2011, right around the time the band decided to resume performing after a 5-year break. That new company absorbed the exclusive rights to the New Order name and income for 10 years, a move that Hook’s legal representation Mark Wyeth QC called “clandestine, premeditated, and deliberate.”
Wyeth elaborated: “It was as though George Harrison and Ringo Starr had got together at George’s house one Friday night and had acted together to divest Paul McCartney of his shareholding in the Beatles, and didn’t tell Yoko about it either.”
New Order’s representative David Casement QC, however, argued that the band acted in an “entirely reasonable way,” adding that the goal of the lawsuit was either to “obstruct” the remaining members from their restarted careers, or to “rejoin the band.”
Hook is asking for over £2.3 million that he claims he’s lost out on, out of an alleged £7.8 million in income the band has made since the 2011 formation of their new company. Hook is currently receiving 1.25% of the band’s royalties and income; he’s asking for up to 12.5%.
In court earlier today, a judge ruled that Hook was not acting out of “spite” and allowed him to take the lawsuit to trial.
Obviously the band are disappointed that Peter is pursuing this claim in this particular way. The reports so far take a number of things out of context. Peter still, for instance, receives his full share of all back catalogue royalties. This dispute relates only to the share of income he takes from our work without him since 2011.
Not much more we can say as nothing has been decided by the Court on the facts other than he has a right to proceed with the claim, so this matter is still in play.
We’re getting on with life and concentrating on touring and promoting our new album.