THE legal battle between Carl Frampton and his former manager Barry McGuigan was settled before the case was due to resume at the Belfast High Court on Thursday (November 12).
Frampton, who won world titles in two weight classes while fighting for McGuigan, was suing the former WBA featherweight champion and Cyclone Promotions for alleged withheld earnings. McGuigan claimed breach of contract, with damages of £4m, against Frampton after their partnership ended in 2017. Both denied the respective allegations against them when the case went before the court in September.
The case had lasted 19 days prior to a recent adjournment and the subsequent settlement.
Frampton, 33, said he was “extremely happy” with the confidential terms of the settlement while 59-year-old McGuigan said he was “pleased the lawsuit had come to an end” and his family “can move forward”.
The legal battle began in 2017 when the McGuigan family and Cyclone Promotions issued proceedings against Frampton in London. The fighter subsequently pressed claims against the McGuigans in Belfast. Frampton was claiming up to £6m against Cyclone Promotions UK – of which Mr McGuigan was a director – over purse fees, broadcasting rights, ticket sales and merchandising.
The split created a stir in boxing at the time. McGuigan and Frampton had appeared to enjoy a long and successful partnership until the time of their divorce, with Frampton winning world titles in the super-bantamweight and featherweight divisions during their eight years together.
“The past three-and-a-half years have of course been difficult but necessary,” Frampton said in a statement. “I want to pay particular thanks to my counsel Gavin Millar QC, Peter Girvan BL and Seamus McIlroy BL for their work in delivering settlement terms I am happy with.
“I want to also pay tribute to my fans, my friends and my family who stood by me and supported me throughout this time. None of this would have been possible without the amazing love and support of my children and of course my extraordinary wife Christine.
“I am glad that this chapter of my life is now behind me and my focus now, as always, remains on becoming a three-weight world champion in 2021.”
Outside court, Frampton was asked by the BBC if the settlement meant he had ‘won’ the case.
“I can’t say that, no, but I can say I’m very, very happy with the terms of the settlement,” he said.
A statement on behalf of McGuigan and his family read: “Barry and Blain McGuigan and Cyclone Promotions have reached a settlement in relation to their litigation with Carl Frampton in the Belfast High Court. The parties reached this settlement during the trial and no judgement has been issued by the Court as to the merits of either case.
“However, to avoid the expense, burden and uncertainty associated with these proceedings and to resolve matters, avoiding any future misunderstandings, the parties have entered into a confidential settlement agreement.”
The conclusion to the case was unexpected. The judge and court staff were preparing for proceedings to be resumed when the call came through to say that the dispute had been resolved.
The case had been keenly fought by both parties. McGuigan and Frampton were ever-present in court, even on days when they were not required to be there. According to reporters covering the case, there was little indication that a settlement was nigh. The procedures were expected to run until December with a ruling therefore unlikely before 2021.
Frampton claimed he had been promised a 30 per cent share of profits as an incentive to walk away from a previous promotional agreement with Matchroom Boxing when Cyclone Promotions was set up in 2013. The Belfast star insisted in court he was never paid, as had allegedly been agreed between the parties, as a director of the company. McGuigan countered by claiming such an agreement was never in place. It was also alleged that Frampton was left with a £400,000 tax bill. At that point, Frampton vowed never to fight for the McGuigans again.
Blain McGuigan, Barry’s son, spent five days in the witness box. He was challenged in court to prove it was him, and not his father, who was acting as Frampton’s promoter.
Blain, 37, denied inflating expenses to a bid to “disguise” profits. He was also forced to defend allegations that ticket sales for Frampton’s 2014 victory over Kiko Martinez were significantly “under-declared”.
In response to the allegation that the McGuigans had been concealing earnings in a US dollars bank account, Blain said: “We did not conceal anything. He [Frampton] knew about it, he was paid from that account. It’s a pretty strange way of concealing things.”
The McGuigans recently found what was reported to be around 10,000 emails that were supposedly relevant in their case against Frampton. The court had previously been told the emails had been lost. Their discovery triggered an adjournment so Frampton’s legal team could assess the content of the emails. Due to the abrupt settlement, the acute details of the emails will remain unknown.
Barry McGuigan added: “We feel that the mutual understanding between us and Carl Frampton will work in favour of both parties.
“We will now focus exclusively on what we do best rather than spending time and money in the courtroom.”
A spokesperson for the Lord Chief Justice’s Office said: “The court has been advised that the case has settled on terms agreed between the parties.
“The proceedings have therefore concluded.”