New Order & Peter Hook End Long-Running Lawsuit; Still Little Chance of a Reunion

Bernard Sumner of New Order
Andrew Benge/Redferns

Bernard Sumner of New Order performs during Roskilde Festival 2016 on July 2, 2016 in Roskilde, Denmark. 

New Order and its former bassist Peter Hook have ended their long-standing High Court dispute, reaching what a statement describes as a “full and final settlement.” The court case was due to go to trial later this year after Hook took legal action over lost royalties that he said had totaled over £2 million ($3 million) in the years since the band (frontman Bernard Sumner, drummer Stephen Morris and keyboardist Gillian Gilbert) reformed without him in 2011.

According to papers filed by Hook's legal team at the time of a two-day preliminary hearing in London two years ago, 2011 also saw Sumner, Morris and Gilbert form a new company -- New Order Limited -- to license the band's trademark and associated goodwill from Vitalturn Ltd, the business that all four members set up in 1992 following the collapse of Factory Records. The new licensing arrangement was not done with Hook's prior knowledge or consent, leading his lawyers to describe it as a "fait accompli."

Lawyers acting on Hook’s behalf argued that the 1.25 percent he receives of New Order royalties and other income from merchandise and touring was too low and should be closer to 12.5 percent. At the time of the 2015 court hearing, representatives of New Order insisted they had treated Hook fairly and that his stake in the band's royalties was "entirely reasonable."

Describing Hook's complaints as "completely misconceived," David Casement QC warned that his actions would achieve nothing -- apart from threatening all of them with "potentially disastrous" legal bills that could rise up to £1 million ($1.5 million) for each party. New Order subsequently counter sued Hook over his use of various New Order and Joy Division assets on merchandising and in the promotion of shows by his new band, Peter Hook and The Light, which has regularly performed and toured classic albums by both bands around the world.

Since last playing with New Order in 2007, Hook has also written a number of well-received books detailing his time in Joy Division and New Order, as well as the former school friends ill-fated foray into running a club via Manchester’s legendary Hacienda venue. The news that both parties had reached a “full and final settlement” was announced today (Sept. 20) on New Order’s website.

“The Joy Division and New Order names mean a great deal to so many of the fans, and the band felt it important to protect the legacy,” read the unsigned statement. “With these issues now dealt with, Bernard, Stephen and Gillian can continue to do what they do best, make music and perform live.” A spokesperson for Hook could not be contacted at time of publishing.