A Delaware Chancery Court judge has ruled that Los Angeles should be the venue for the hearing of the bitter legal clash between <A HREF="http://www.billboard.com/bb/biz/archivesearch/article_display.

A Delaware Chancery Court judge has ruled that Los Angeles should be the venue for the hearing of the bitter legal clash between Warner Music Group (WMG) and Maverick Records.

WMG filed its preemptive action against Maverick in Delaware on March 24, seeking a declaratory judgment. Maverick filed its own suit the following day in California Superior Court in L.A., claiming that WMG had breached its 12-year-old joint-venture pact with the label, in which top Warner act Madonna is a principal.

The suits are believed to be tied to ongoing disputes between WMG and Maverick about the value of the 60% of Maverick held by partners Madonna and Guy Oseary. WMG has an option to buy that share when its agreement with Maverick ends Dec. 31.

Chancery Court Vice Chancellor Leo E. Strine ruled May 7 that since most of the witnesses in the suits are probably based in L.A., a trial should proceed there.

Strine stayed WMG's action and gave the parties in the suit until May 18 to secure an L.A. trial date for early November at the latest. If no date can be obtained, the case would return to the Delaware court.

A statement from WMG said in part, "We are pleased that the Delaware court has affirmed the importance of expediting this matter, regardless of where the trial ultimately is held. We are confident the court will agree that Maverick's claims against the company are baseless, and that Warner Music Group has met all of its financial and legal obligtions to the joint venture."

Bertram Fields, Maverick's attorney, did not respond to a call seeking comment.