Morton wins $500,000 legal battle against literary agent

Morton wins $500,000 legal battle against literary agent

Australian author Kate Morton has won a $500,000 lawsuit against her former literary agent Selwa Anthony, the Sydney Morning Herald has reported. 

Anthony sued the The Shifting Fog writer in August in the New South Wales supreme court over an alleged breach of contract, saying it was agreed during a March 2002 phone call that she was entitled to 15% commission on royalties earned from Morton’s first six published books for the life of each work.

Morton had sacked her literary agent by email in December 2015. 

Morton countersued, accusing Anthony of depriving her of opportunities as a up-and-coming author. 

The court heard Morton deny the March 2002 phone call, saying it was only over time she had understood Anthony, a literary agent for 30 years, would be paid 15% of any advances received from publishers. “My understanding was when I decided to terminate Selwa’s agency I didn’t owe an ongoing entitlement,” she previously said.

The court found Anthony was not entitled to commission after the end of the agency agreement in December 2015. 

Anthony “didn’t believe in contracts”, the court heard. Justice Julie Ward said there was never any written agency agreement between Morton and Anthony, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. In her 248-page ruling, Justice Ward said:“"Ms Anthony’s usual practice was not to enter into written agreements with the authors she represented.” 

Morton claimed she was not told how world rights deals operate and claimed Anthony failed to advise her of the financial implications of rights deals with publisher Allen & Unwin for the last four of her books. 

Justice Ward dismissed Anthony’s claim and held up Morton’s counter-claim, ordering the literary agent to pay author Morton $514,558 plus interest. Costs will be determined next year.