German film company in legal action threat against Irish producers over 'Vikings' sequel

German film company in legal action threat against Irish producers over 'Vikings' sequel
A scene from Vikings

The High Court has heard that a German film company may take legal proceedings against two well known Irish film producers over plans to make a sequel to the popular 'Vikings' TV series

Lawyers representing Berlin-based W2 Filmproduktion Vertriebs GmbH told Ms Justice Theresa Pilkington on Thursday that it may seek an injunction over proposals to make 'Vikings Valhalla' series as part of its ongoing action against producers Morgan O'Sullivan and James Flynn.

W2 has alleged the producers have allegedly diverted some €40m funds out of a film production company diverted the funds out of Octagon Films Ltd, a company they are all shareholders in.

Both men deny the allegations that they diverted the funds to either themselves personally or corporate entities controlled by them.

The case, which commenced in 2016, returned before Ms Justice Teresa Pilkington this week.

The Judge has been asked by the defendants for an extension of time to they can fully comply with orders made by the court last June over the discovery of several categories of documents involving dozens of film and tv productions.

The directors, represented by Bernard Dunleavy SC and Eamon Marray BL, say that the amount of discovery, which the court directed was to be completed by mid-October last, is voluminous, involves over 500,000 documents and would cost €900,000 to prepare.

Counsel said it was not a case his clients were "dragging their feet," or seeking to go behind the orders. His clients were asking the court to extend the time to allow discovery to be completed to December 2020.

W2, represented by Paul Gardiner SC and Edward Farrelly SC, have opposed the application, and argue the defendants are trying to delay proceedings which commenced some years ago.

W2 sought the discovery of documents, emails and correspondence from a firm of solicitors concerning productions including TV series the Borgia, Vikings, and Penny Dreadful were "enormously important" to the claim.

During Thursday's proceedings, Mr Gardiner told the court that it learned through media reports about the 'Vikings' spin-off. W2 claims that the fees generated from the original Vikings series are a central issue in the action.

It is W2's case, counsel said, that the producers were not entitled to a profit, without Octoagon's permission, from productions including the 'Vikings' TV series.

W2, the court heard, fears that the funds generated by 'Vikings Valhalla' which the German firm alleges should go to Octagon will be diverted to the defendants.

Counsel said that in their view this was a breach of undertakings previously given to the High Court by the defendants and may result in W2 seeking injunction relief.

German film company in legal action threat against Irish producers over 'Vikings' sequel

In its action W2 is suing the producers on behalf of Octagon by way of a derivative action which is a claim brought by a shareholder on behalf of a corporation against another party- which in this case Mr Flynn and Mr O'Sullivan who are directors of Octagon.

W2, which invests in international film productions, says it acquired 49% of Octoagon's shares in 2002.

W2 seeks an order for damages for alleged breach of duty, alleged fraud, and alleged conspiracy against the producers.

It also seeks a declaration the defendants are obliged to account to the plaintiff in respect of all profits made through the producers and Octagon's their alleged involvement in dozens of tv and movie productions.

The producers deny diverting any fees, income or opportunities that were due to Octagon to themselves or to any corporate entities controlled by them.

Mr O'Sullivan of Ardmore Park, Bray, Co Wicklow and Mr Flynn of Ballyedmonduff Road, Stepaside, Dublin, who between them own 51% of Octagon's shares deny they traded as Octagon or used the company's name and reputation.

They claim Octagon was set up as a company devoted to film development and production activity and is a separate entity to their work for hire film production services they are associated with.

Octagon, they claim, benefited from the defendant's association with projects which were not part of Octagon's business.

The defendants also claim they separately owed pre-existing duties to other corporate entities involved in television and movie production which W2 knew of and ought to be aware of.

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