News October 27, 2015

Modular’s Stephen Pavlovic wins appeal against UMA

Former Editor
Modular’s Stephen Pavlovic wins appeal against UMA

A marathon court battle between Universal Music Australia and Modular Recordings co-owner Stephen Pavlovic has delivered another revelation. 

Supreme Court justice John Sackar, who called Pavlovic “a thorn in Universal's side" at a Supreme Court proceeding on June 4 regarding the termination of Pavlovic's employment – has had his ruling overturned at the NSW Court Of Appeals this morning.

Taking to Facebook this afternoon Pavlovic said: "After 12 months of litigation, a waste of time, a waste of energy, a waste of money and a shit ton of stress the NSW court of Appeal just ruled in my favour and blocked Universal Music from taking my 50% shareholding in Modular Recordings.”

Chief Justice of the state's Supreme Court, His Honour Bathurst CJ, the President of the Supreme Court Of Appeal, Her Honour Beazley, and His Honour Meagher JA overturned Sackar’s ruling. Sackar said Pavlovic was bound by the terms of a 2014 settlement agreement with UMA despite the fact he decided not to sign the final of four settlement deeds sent from UMA. 

In the court transcript, Chief Justice Bathurst CJ is quoted saying: "whichever way the matter is looked at, I do not think that a binding agreement was reached."

Pavlovic founded Modular Recordings in 1998 and following the signing of acts like Tame Impala, The Presets, Wolfmother, Cut Copy and The Avalanches, gave the label cult status.

The Modular co-owner also teased new music from three acts on the roster: "We're thrilled with the outcome and look forward to getting back to the business of releasing great records. Stand by for news on forthcoming releases from Movement, Bag Raiders and The Avalanches."

Speaking about the court win in a press statement today, Pavlovic said: "It's stressful to be one man staring down a corporate giant the size of Universal however I felt I had no choice but to fight for myself, the label I created and for the bands that we represent.

"I've always held Universal, and George Ash [President, Universal Music Asia Pacific] in particular, in high regard. We enjoyed many great years together as partners and I'm sad that we have reached a bitter end. I wish him and all beings UNIVERSAL LOVE. I'm hopeful that time will heal all wounds and that the respective bands and labels alike can get on with the job of what drew us all together in the first place – a desire to see great artists brought to the world stage."

UMA's GM of Legal & Business Affairs Karen Don said the major label was "disappointed by the appeal court’s ruling."

“We are disappointed by the appeal court’s ruling because last year’s settlement agreement was intended to help achieve an orderly process for Mr. Pavlovic’s exit, and now we are compelled to pursue in court the terms that we had believed were settled last year,” said Don in a statement emailed to TMN.

"Universal filed the legal action to finalise the terms of Mr Pavlovic’s departure from the Modular Recordings business, in the first instance by seeking to enforce a settlement agreement that it reached with Mr Pavlovic and his companies in late 2014. Mr Pavlovic subsequently filed an appeal against the Supreme Court’s decision that the settlement agreement was binding." 

Don said the matter will return to the Supreme Court "for the next phase of Universal’s case."

According to the ABC, BMG’s case against Pavlovic over alleged missing Tame Impala royalties, is set to be dismissed by the Southern District Court of New York.

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