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By Terence Dooley
Tony Bellew's protracted split from former promoter Frank Warren has finally hit the British High Court, as predicted by BoxingScene in 2012. Bellew announced his decision to split with Warren in May 2012 and the issue has rumbled on ever since despite Bellew appearing on two Matchroom bills in the meantime, which has dragged Marchroom into the bitterly fought dispute as Warren seeks redress over what he believes is a clear breach of contract.
On February 1, Frank Warren Promotions were ordered to pay £102,000 into court by the 1st of March and to pay up-front costs of £20,000 to Matchroom Sport Limited, Eddie Hearn, Barry Hearn and Bellew no later than this Friday, the 15th, as part of their demand for Security For Costs, which can be applied for, and awarded, depending on a party's previous financial history.
Master Eastman, presiding, levied the costs. If they are not met then FWP's case will be dismissed and Bellew will not have to defend himself against the accusations of breach of contract - a claim that both the boxer and Matchroom have denied.
As extensively reported on BoxingScene, this case has already been dealt with by the BBBoC and an independent review panel. They both found that Bellew had legitimately terminated his contract due to a "serious" breach and he was made to pay an outstanding managerial fee to Warren as part of their findings.
Still, Warren and FWP decided to take their fight against Bellew, Matchroom Sport Limited, Eddie Hearn and Barry Hearn to the High Court. The defendants feared that FWP would be unable to pay the costs of their defence if they were successful, this lead to the application for Security For Costs on 1 February in front of Master Eastman.
FWP's latest accounts were due for submission to Companies House at the end of 2012, but FWP have not met the filing deadline. The last published accounts for FWP were for the year ending 31 March 2011; these showed that the company had net liabilities of £1,289,073.
In mitigation, Warren's solicitor stated before the court that the reason for the delay in submitting the latest accounts was due to illness and a "VAT issue". Before making the order against FWP, Master Eastman said: "I have been given precious little information on which I could conclude that the Second Claimant [Frank Warren Promotions Limited] would be good for the costs of the Defendants.
"The excuses, or reasons, given for the non-appearance of recent accounts are not particularly promising. The accounts have been promised for some time but have all the qualities of a Billy Bunter postal order.
"I know so little about the First Claimant's [Frank Warren] personal circumstances that I am wholly unable to accept that a personal guarantee would provide security. Of course the First Claimant is a well-known figure but it is not enough to say, 'I'm Frank Warren so I'm good for the money' - the court needs rather more than that."
Frank Warren Promotions is Warren's current promotional company, his previous boxing promotion company, Sports Network Limited, is in liquidation with a net deficiency, and this will have been a huge factor in Eastman's decision.
Warren, though, has until Friday to lodge the monies and continue with the case against his former charge while Bellew, 19-1 (12), will no doubt hope to put the issue to bed so he can concentrate on his WBC Silver light-heavyweight title defence against Isaac Chilemba, 20-1-1 (9), at Liverpool's Echo Arena on March 30.