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Joyce v Morrissey & Others (case citation [1999] E.M.L.R. 233) is a civil case tried in the Supreme Court of Judicature, from March 1989 to 1998. The case involved Smiths drummer Mike Joyce, against plaintiffs Morrissey and Johnny Marr (lead singer and lead guitarist respectively). Bassist Andy Rourke was a party to the litigation, although he settled his claims soon after the issue of the writ.



Morrissey and Marr each took 40 percent of The Smiths' recording and performance royalties, allowing 10 percent each to Joyce and Rourke. This was stipulated in a verbal contract that superseded an earlier agreement for an equal share amongst all four members of the band.

The case[]

In March 1989, Joyce and Rourke started legal proceedings against their former bandmates, arguing that they were equal partners in The Smiths and each entitled to a 25 percent share of the band's profits on all activities other than songwriting and publishing.

Rourke, who was in debt, settled almost immediately after the writ was served, for a lump sum of £83,000 and 10 percent of royalties, renouncing all further claims. Joyce continued with the litigation, reaching the High Court of Justice (Chancery Division) in December 1996 after an agreement from Morrissey and Marr than Joyce and Rourke were partners. The only contention was the share Joyce was entitled to as a equal partner. Joyce's barrister, Nigel Davis QC, asserted that "it was not until after the [bestselling] band split up in 1987 that his client discovered he was getting only 10 percent of the profits". This was contradictory to Morrissey and Marr's claims that Joyce and Rourke agreed to and understood the royalty deal. Marr's counsel, Robert Englehart QC, explained, "Some 13 years on it is extremely difficult to pinpoint the moment when the 40:40:10:10 profit split came into being ... But Morrissey and Marr acted throughout on the basis that they would be getting 40 percent each of the net profits from The Smiths earnings."


After a seven-day hearing, Judge Weeks found in favour of Joyce, ordering that he receive approximately £1 million in back-payments and 25 percent henceforth. Morrissey, without Marr, unsuccessfully mounted an appeal to the Court of Appeal (Civil Division) in November 1998. Inspired by Joyce's success, Rourke reportedly considered legal options to continue the suit, although no further action was taken, presumably due to the earlier lasting renouncement of all further claims.

In November 2005, Joyce commenced auctions for band rarities (e.g. Fast One) on eBay. Morrissey responded with a statement on True To You three days later revealing that Joyce had received £215,000 each from Marr and Morrissey in 1997, along with Marr's final back-payment of £260,000 in 2001. Morrissey failed to make his final payment because, he said, he was overseas in 2001 and did not receive the paperwork. Joyce obtained a default judgement against Morrissey, revised his outstanding claim to £688,000, and secured orders to claim a hold of the singer's income and assets in the UK. This was a source of ongoing inconvenience and grievance to Morrissey, who estimated that Joyce had cost him at least £1,515,000 in recovered royalties and legal fees up to 30 November 2005.