Passing The Judgment

Members of 1980s reggae band Musical Youth have lost their legal battle with their former music lawyer Anthony Seddon.

They had launched a claim for fraud and negligence after “Pass the Dutchie,” a hit for Musical Youth in 1982, was featured in the 2000 film “The Wedding Singer.”

Apparently they’d been expecting royalty cheques in the mail, and opted for legal action when none arrived.

They claimed Seddon and other partners in Woolf Seddon (now Seddons) had been “in serious breach of their duties” by failing to “protect a distinct copyright” held by Musical Youth.

Joanna Smith QC, who acted for Seddons, said the claim was an abuse of process and deserved to be struck out.
Mr Justice Roth agreed and ruled that the claim was “an attempt to turn a claim for professional negligence into a claim for fraud or dishonest breach of trust.”

Justice Roth also said the musicians may have taken action against Seddon because it was questionable whether they were actually entitled to a royalty.

The Grammy-nominated single, which sold more than 100,000 copies in one day, was actually an adaptation of a song called “Pass The Kouchie,” which was originally recorded by The Mighty Diamonds in 1969.

The claimants conceded that their song was an “arrangement” of the 1969 tune but contended that the song was “a sufficiently original work to attract distinct copyright” and as such they were entitled to a division of publishing royalties.

“That is entirely speculative,” Justice Roth explained. “This is not a case where there are reasonable grounds to suppose that fuller investigation would yield evidence that would significantly alter the position.”