Malaysia’s Good Vibes Festival organisers demand US$2.7 million compensation from UK band The 1975
Although the cancellation of the Good Vibes Festival was initiated by the Malaysian government, a lawyer that CNA spoke to said it will not have a bearing on the chances of success of the potential lawsuit against The 1975.
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s Good Vibes Festival organisers, Future Sound Asia (FSA), has on Monday (Aug 7) given British pop rock band The 1975 seven days to admit their liability - in leading to the cancellation of the event - and pay damages of RM12.3 million (US$2.7 million).
This after an incident involving the band led to the Malaysian government shutting down the festival last month.
In response to CNA's query, David Mathew, a lawyer who is representing FSA, said on Tuesday that: “Future Sound Asia's claim against The 1975 is essentially one for intentional breach of contract.”
Mr Mathew noted that the assurance that the band “shall adhere to all local guidelines and regulations" during their set in Malaysia was not complied with.
“The band's actions in Malaysia, clearly also contravened the contract with Future Sound Asia. This led to the cancellation of the festival which, in turn, caused significant losses to Future Sound Asia,” he said.
According to a statement issued on Monday, The 1975’s failure to acknowledge their liability and compensate FSA for damages incurred will result in the organiser pursuing legal proceedings in the Courts of England.
FSA added that it strongly disapproved of the band’s behaviour during their performance.
“In particular, lead singer Matthew Timothy Healy's use of abusive language, equipment damage, and indecent stage behaviour not only flagrantly breached local guidelines and Malaysian laws but also tarnished the reputation of the 10-year-old festival,” according to the statement.
CNA has reached out to the band's representative for comments on the legal demands.
On Jul 21, the band’s frontman - who is more popularly known as Matty Healy - was seen kissing bassist Ross MacDonald onstage after criticising the Malaysian government's stance against homosexuality in a profanity-laden speech to the festival audience.
The next day, Communications Minister Fahmi Fadzil instructed the organisers to cancel the remaining two days of the three-day festival.
FSA said in their statement that the band’s actions “intentionally contravened” its agreement with FSA for their performance at the festival.
“This breach led to the festival's cancellation, resulting in significant financial losses for FSA and negatively impacting local artists and businesses that depended on the festival's success - affecting the livelihoods of many Malaysians,” it added.
A lawyer CNA spoke to said that even though the cancellation of the Good Vibes Festival was initiated by the Malaysian government, it will not have a bearing on the chances of success of the potential lawsuit against The 1975.
“It could, however, have a bearing on the amount of damages the Court awards to Future Sound Asia for the breach of the pre-show written assurance,” said litigation lawyer Joshua Wu Kai-Ming.
He noted that ultimately, the basis for the intended lawsuit is the breach of the pre-show written assurance between The 1975 - or its representative - with FSA.
He added that The 1975’s return to the UK also does not have any bearing on the chances of the lawsuit, though the lawsuit may be delayed if The 1975 - who is currently on tour - is not in the UK to receive the court papers.
This is the latest of two legal actions that may be taken against the band. The first is a pro bono class action suit by local artists and vendors affected by the cancellation of the festival.
In a Facebook post on Jul 22, the founder of Thomas Philip Advocates & Solicitors, Mathew Thomas Philip, announced that a pro bono team is improving the first working draft of the class action lawsuit.
After a town hall meeting with the affected vendors and artists three days later, Mr Philip called on The 1975 to refund the substantial fee that was paid to the band.
“The irony is that many of us in the room in some way funded the substantial fee that was paid to The 1975, which they happily took, to only deliberately breach their assurances, and rain misery on us.
“I invite The 1975 to refund that substantial fee without admission of liability if need be so we can use that money to compensate some of the poorer victims of their conduct,” he wrote in a Facebook post.
According to Mr Fahmi on Jul 24, the authorities had on Jun 23 denied the festival organisers’ request to bring in The 1975 due to the band’s poor record in other countries.
However, The 1975 was later allowed to perform at the festival as a guarantee was made assuring responsibility for the band’s performance.
Mr Fahmi said that four hours after the incident involving The 1975 took place, he took to Twitter to strongly condemn the action and called for the festival organisers to meet him the next morning.
“At the end of the meeting, at 1pm, I issued a statement and asked the organisers to cancel the rest of the concert and find a refund mechanism for those who have bought the tickets,” he said then.
The band subsequently announced it would cancel its performance at the We The Fest event in Indonesian capital Jakarta, as well as a show in Taiwan - home to a thriving LGBTQ community - on Tuesday, according to AFP.