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John Lydon’s lawyer calls on court to block the use of long forgotten “nuclear button” in Sex Pistols dispute

By | Published on Wednesday 28 July 2021

John Lydon

John Lydon’s legal rep yesterday told the High Court in London that the Sex Pistols have always worked on the assumption that licensing deals will only be done with unanimous approval of the band’s members, and therefore an old band agreement that says only majority approval is required should be set aside.

Mark Cunningham presented his closing arguments at the end of a lively court dispute between Lydon and his former bandmates Paul Cook and Steve Jones. They want to license the band’s music to a new TV programme called ‘Pistol’ based on Jones’s memoir ‘Lonely Boy: Tales Of A Sex Pistol’, but Lydon is currently seeking to veto the deal.

Cook and Jones argue that – while they have never previously enforced the old band agreement that denies Lydon a veto providing the rest of the band agree on a deal – that doesn’t mean they ever accepted that that contract was no longer in force. They just didn’t want the hassle of a major falling out with Lydon by forcing a deal through based on that old agreement. Until now.

According to Law360, Cunningham said in his closing arguments that, while every band member had indeed signed that agreement, it was long forgotten about, and band members instead operated according to a unanimous-consent-only model.

Cook and Jones should not now be allowed to employ the forgotten “nuclear button”, the lawyer stated. “The catastrophic deployment of the [agreement] with the aim of achieving the licensing of ‘Pistol’ goes against the grain of what has been achieved” in the past, he added, noting that, since the agreement was signed, “every licence [has been] granted by unanimous approval”.

Needless to say, legal reps for Cook and Jones counter that an agreement is an agreement, even if it is rarely relied upon. “The [agreement] permits decisions regarding licensing requests to be made on a majority-rules basis”, they noted in a closing submission to the court.

“The [agreement] requires that the parties must exercise their rights of approval under any pre-existing agreements with third parties consistently with the provisions and intent of the agreement … and the [agreement] obliges the parties to provide all such consents and execute all such documents as may be necessary to give effect to a majority decision”.

We now await the court’s decision with some interest. Though, presumably, not quite as much interest as the producers of ‘Pistol’, whose show will probably be a bit rubbish without any Sex Pistols music.