(Above) Elanne seen leaving court, accompanied by her husband Oscar Siu (蕭潤邦).
Artiste Elanne Kong’s (江若琳) continuing legal tussle with former management firm Universe Entertainment and Culture Group has wrapped at the high court, with a ruling made on February 18. While no clear victor has emerged, the case will reconvene again to determine the finer points of monetary compensation demanded by both sides.
Elanne Deemed “Credible Witness”
The court case between the now-34-year-old and her former management company revealed the dark side of the entertainment industry, where she had alleged unfair treatment and abuse, resulting in mental torture which led to a suicide attempt. Similar accusations were also raised by Universe Entertainment which had accused Elanne of breaching the contract.
As joint respondents with Oriental Prosperous International Entertainment, Elanne had inked contractual agreements with Universe Entertainment (plaintiff) in the years 2004, 2005 and 2008. The points of dispute in the case were: whether Universe Entertainment had breached the contract, if the “right of contract renewal” clause in the contract meant her contract could be renewed for a further five years after it ended in 2014, and which party should bear the artiste’s publicity and production expenses during the specified period.
Unreasonable “Rights of Contract Renewal” Clause Voided
Rejecting the entire testimony of one of the plaintiff witnesses, the judge determined that Elanne was the more credible witness and reminded both parties to focus on the purpose of the court hearing, and not their previous negative experiences. In his ruling, the judge stated that while Elanne was a minor (she was seventeen) in 2014 at the time the first contract was signed, there was no apparent coercion involved in the signing of the contracts in 2005 and 2008, whose terms were thus legally binding. Ruling that both parties’ contract has formally ended on May 2, 2014, Universe’s clause of “unconditional rights of contractual renewal” was deemed as ambiguous and unreasonable, and thus not legally binding.
It was further ruled that Elanne’s manager James Yang’s (楊劍標) act of hurling a glass cup at her in 2014 was deemed a violation of their mutual trust and breach of contractual terms without reasonable cause. While Elanne should receive the revenue from her musical projects, her publicity and production expenses were meant for upkeeping her image, which was judged as her property – and thus should be borne by the artiste herself.
The finer points of monetary compensation demanded by both parties will be continued in an estimated thirty-five day trial period.