Sunday April 20, 2008 Hong Kong
Isabella Leong (梁洛施) has been trapped in an unconscionable contract by her record company, Emperor Entertainment Group, according to a writ lodged in Hong Kong's High Court, reported the South China Morning Post today.
Isabella, 19, filed the countersuit in response to a writ lodged earlier by EEG, which claimed a breach of contract by the actress-singer.
Isabella's writ, which runs to 33 pages, claims that the contract contained unconscionable terms, including provisions that up to 99% of her earnings and all of the rights to her work go to EEG.
In Hong Kong contract law, unconscionability is when one party takes advantage of its superior bargaining power to insert provisions that make the agreement overwhelmingly favour its interests.
According to the writ, Isabella's mother – who was only educated to Primary Six level and was the family breadwinner supporting Isabella and another daughter on an income of a few thousand Hong Kong dollars a month – could not read or understand English, the language the paperwork was written in, when she signed the first contract with EEG on Isabella's behalf. The recording contract and management agreement for Isabella, who was 12 at the time, had a duration of 10 years. Mother and daughter entered two other contracts with EEG 20 months later.
When she turned 18, in 2006, Isabella endorsed the contracts previously signed by her mother on her behalf. She also signed a supplemental agreement that extended the original contracts by three years.
The writ claims that Isabella was forced to sign the supplemental agreement to avoid being "frozen" – industry lingo for when an artist has fallen out of favour with the company and is not given work.
According to the writ, other unconscionable terms of the contracts include:
provisions that make the agreement extendable at EEG's sole discretion;
provisions that EEG receive all of Isabella's income, before paying her HK$5,000 a month, plus paying her royalties of 0.867% to 2.135% of net sales depending on the medium;
provisions that Isabella must record an unlimited number of works for EEG and complete all work asked of her, but with no guarantee that the company must provide her jobs;
provisions that Isabella retains no ownership or copyright of any of the works she creates;
provisions that prohibit Isabella from leaving Hong Kong without EEG's consent;
provisions that Isabella will be prohibited from working in the entertainment industry in any capacity for seven years, in the event EEG agrees to end the contracts.
Isabella has reportedly been trying to quit the company after starting to date Richard Li (李澤楷), the boss of PCCW, the largest telecommunications company in Hong Kong.
It has been widely rumoured in Hong Kong press that Isabella has been in a relationship with Richard, who is 21 years her senior, since late last year, but both have refused to comment.
Recently, according to Sing Tao Daily, Isabella was college hunting in New York. She was snapped by the American paparazzi, as she hung out with Michelle Yeoh (楊紫瓊) and Michelle's fiance, ex-Ferrari boss Jean Todt. It is rumoured that Michelle was the matchmaker who introduced Isabella to Richard. The newspaper rumoured that Isabella has taken a fancy to a six-month film course and has plans to break into Hollywood.
EEG had been trying to keep the dispute low key, but started legal proceedings two weeks ago to seek damages for breach of contract and an injunction preventing Isabella from signing with another company.
It is reported that EEG is furious that Isabella wants to quit, because the company funded her studies and plotted her rise to stardom. It is not unusual practice for Hong Kong entertainment companies to tie budding singers and actors to long contracts, to justify the investment needed to create a star.
A spokesperson for EEG said that the matter is being dealt with by the company's lawyers so they cannot comment.
If Isabella wins in court, it would set a precedent for other stars wishing to quit their companies.
* eSeong Network User Reviews *
* ) This news will be very interesting both rich sues the richer. Just wait and see who will win.
* ) lol Im guessing Isabella would win coz shes has a SUGER DADDY on her hands now, all she needs to do is provide sex for him , then hes got the biggest lawyer on EEG’s Ass,
PS, Isabella is such a gold digger
* ) Haha, Isabella Leong fires back at EEG. Wow, it's possible that she may win with a helpful lawyer.