Hook Advertising’s Chris Joseph has abandoned his multi-million pound
lawsuit against Barclays Bank and the Hutchison telecommunications giant
after one of the most bitter disputes in British advertising history.
In statements issued this week, all sides said they had reached a
settlement of all outstanding claims, heading off a High Court hearing
scheduled for this summer.
The agreements bring down the curtain on the five-year legal wrangle
that followed Hook’s dismissal from the pounds 4 million Rabbit account
in August 1991.
Last year, the dispute resulted in a landmark victory for agencies
despite Mrs Justice Arden ruling in Hutchison’s favour and against
Joseph’s claim to own the Rabbit logo. At the same time, she established
a legal precedent preventing clients from claiming copyright on work
presented speculatively to them (Campaign, 5 January).
The row with Barclays revolved around the bank’s role as Hook’s client
and banker when the dispute over the logo’s ownership arose.
Barclays, together with Philips and Shell, formed a consortium called
BYPS to operate the Rabbit mobile-phone system. Hook was appointed to
handle Rabbit’s advertising in May 1989.
Two years later the consortium abandoned Rabbit. The BYPS shares were
bought by Barclays, which then sold them to the Hong Kong-based
When Joseph declined to assign copyright of the logo to Hutchison,
Barclays pressed him to sign an agreement renouncing any claims against
the bank in return for a larger overdraft facility.
When he refused, the bank withdrew Hook’s banking facilities, forcing
the agency out of business with the loss of 45 jobs and owing about
pounds 1 million to its creditors.
Joseph hit back with writs for damages in which he accused Hutchison of
illegally terminating the agency’s contract and Barclays of using
economic duress and abusing its dual role.
However, the battle has been a personal ordeal for Joseph, who has been
struggling against recurring depressive illness while finding the money
to keep the legal case alive.