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Hall and Oates row: Judge extends pause on Oates’ sale of stake in business
30 November 2023, 22:24
One half of the musical duo is attempting to sell his share of the business in what was described as ‘the ultimate partnership betrayal’.
A judge has sided with singer Daryl Hall in his request to keep John Oates temporarily blocked from selling his share of the Hall and Oates duo’s joint venture without his musical partner’s permission.
Chancellor Russell Perkins in Nashville extended his pause on the sale of Oates’ share of Whole Oats Enterprises LLP to Primary Wave IP Investment Management LLC while the music duo moves through the early stages of arbitration.
The temporary injunction in the lawsuit filed by Hall blocks Oates from selling until an arbitrator weighs in, or until February 17.
The joint venture in question includes Hall and Oates’ trademarks, personal name and likeness rights, record royalty income and website and social media assets, according to a court declaration by Hall, who has called Oates’ planned sale the “ultimate partnership betrayal”.
At a hearing on Thursday, Christine Lepera, a lawyer for Hall, said she has not heard anything from Oates’ legal team indicating that there is some urgency in closing the deal.
Ms Lepera said: “You cannot sell half of a partnership to a third party without the other party’s consent, and that’s just intuitively correct.”
An attorney for Oates, Tim Warnock, said Hall’s claims that Oates went behind his back are untrue.
“Mr Oates proceeded exactly as he was allowed to proceed,” Mr Warnock said, pointing the judge to their joint business agreement, which remains under seal in the case. “Mr Hall could have done the exact same thing himself.”
The hearing also drew attention to Hall’s claims in his declaration – that Oates blindsided and betrayed him, that their relationship and his trust in his musical partner have deteriorated, and that Oates timed the sale when Hall was about to go on tour to maximise the harm to him.
Neither Hall nor Oates attended Thursday’s hearing.
Mr Warnock said some of the “salacious” allegations in Hall’s declaration have nothing to do with what was being discussed in court on Thursday.
“Maybe he wanted publicity, maybe he wanted to interfere with Mr Oates’ business relationships,” Mr Warnock said.
“We won’t know the answer to that today. We will know the answer to that at some point and there will be consequences about that.”
Ms Lepera replied that Hall had to submit an affidavit to support why the judge should keep temporarily blocking the deal.
“That’s the reason we did that, and not for publicity,” Ms Lepera said.
Artists have been fetching giant sums of money in recent years in selling their music catalogues.
Oates would no doubt receive a large amount, given the massive run of hits the duo produced in the 1970s and 80s, including Maneater, Rich Girl, Kiss On My List, and I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do).
The judge issued a temporary restraining order on November 16, the same day Hall filed his lawsuit, writing that Oates and others involved in his trust cannot move to close the sale of their share until an arbitrator weighs in on the deal, though that kind of order typically expires within 15 days without an extension.
The parties have since agreed on who will oversee the arbitration, in which the dispute over the deal will be decided, the lawyers said.
The lawsuit contends that Hall opened an arbitration process on November 9 against Oates and the other defendants in the lawsuit, Oates’ wife, Aimee Oates, as well as Richard Flynn, in their roles as co-trustees of Oates’ trust.
Hall was seeking an order preventing them from selling their part in Whole Oats Enterprises to Primary Wave Music.
The declaration from Hall says he learned about the proposed deal for the first time on October 20, about a week before he would begin touring across the U.S. west coast, Japan and Manilla.
Primary Wave has already owned “significant interest” in Hall and Oates’ song catalogue for more than 15 years.
The lawsuit says Oates’ team entered into a letter of intent with Primary Wave Music for the sale and alleges further that the letter makes clear that the music duo’s business agreement was disclosed to Primary Wave Music in violation of a confidentiality provision.
Additionally, Hall said in his declaration he would not approve such a sale and does not agree with Primary Wave’s business model.