Hollywood star Johnny Depp scored a significant legal victory against his former lawyer Jake Bloom as the Superior Court Judge here rejected an unwritten contract.
The ruling on Tuesday could have profound effects on legal dealings in Hollywood, where agreements are often based on a handshake rather than a written contract, variety.com reported.
Depp is seeking to recoup tens of millions of dollars in legal fees paid out to Bloom over 18 years.
Bloom was paid based on a percentage of the actor's earnings. The relationship fell apart in 2017, as Depp was also fighting a legal war with the Management Group, his former management company.
Depp sued Bloom last October, arguing that the fee arrangement was effectively done on a contingency basis, which under California law must be in writing.
Bloom countersued, arguing that Depp had failed to fully pay his legal bills and had violated the unwritten agreement. Bloom's attorneys argued that the agreement was not a contingency arrangement, but Judge Terry Green disagreed.
"There's not a special rule for entertainment people. Why isn't it in writing? Why not have something that memorializes the agreement so we don't end up in court fighting like this?" Green said.
The attorneys for both sides declined to comment outside court. The case is set for a trial on May 6, and Bloom's attorneys may seek to appeal the judge's ruling, reported variety.com.