(LOS ANGELES) — After settling a year-and-a-half long legal battle with his former managers, Johnny Depp has scored a significant win in a contract dispute with his lawyer, which could also impact current and future Hollywood deals, according to Variety.
Depp filed a complaint back in October, accusing his attorney of 18 years, Jacob A. Bloom, of ripping him off for nearly $35 million, arguing that Bloom collected fees from the Pirates of the Caribbean actor’s variable income without a legally binding contract under California law.
The judge, Terry Green, sided with Depp, according to the industry trade, arguing, “There’s not a special rule for entertainment people. Why isn’t it in writing? Why not have something that memorializes the agreement so we don’t end up in court fighting like this?”
Bloom’s attorney, Ray Cardozo, countered that his fee arrangement is very common, explaining, “With a contingency fee, you are speculating on an uncertain outcome. In Depp’s case, the agreement was closer to a law firm doing work for a tech startup in exchange for equity rather than cash. “You’re not speculating on an outcome…Your piece of Depp’s income can fluctuate.”
The judge, however, argued that the ups and downs of Depp’s career underscore the speculative nature of a fee arrangement based on his income. “I don’t follow showbiz. I rarely go to movies. I know who the plaintiff is. I can’t tell you a whole lot about him, except he’s had ups and downs in his career. Who would have known, 18 years ago, how high the highs are and how low the lows,” he explained.
The ruling could also have profound effects on legal dealings in Hollywood, where agreements are often sealed with a handshake rather than a written contract, according to Variety.
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