Literary agent Selwa Antony ordered to pay author more than half a million dollars
Selwa Anthony (L) has also been involved in a legal battle over Colleen McCullough’s estate. (ABC News: Philippa McDonald)
High-profile literary agent Selwa Anthony’s Supreme Court bid for extra royalties from bestselling Australian author Kate Moreton has backfired.
- Selwa Anthony claim was based on a verbal agreement over lifetime royalties
- Was instead ordered to pay author Kate Moreton $514,558 plus interest in refunded commissions
- The judge’s decision related only to Ms Morton’s fifth and sixth books because other works fell outside the period of statutory limitations
The agent was instead ordered to pay a cross claim of more than half a million dollars to her former client.
Ms Anthony sued Ms Moreton after she was sacked suddenly in 2015, after a long-standing relationship which began when they were introduced by a fellow novelist who was already a client of the agent.
Ms Moreton went on to earn more than $17 million in royalties for six bestsellers since she burst onto the scene in 2006 with her debut novel The Shifting Fog.
The agent argued the writer had made an agreement over the phone in 2002 that she would receive 15 per cent commission for the life of the books for which she negotiated publishing deals.
Ms Moreton disputed her version of events, instead accusing Ms Anthony of denying her opportunities, amounting to potential earnings of up to $2.8 million.
Today, Justice Julie Ward found Ms Anthony breached her duty of care and skill in advising Ms Moreton to grant world rights for the last four of Ms Moreton’s books without advising her of the financial implications of doing so.
“It was clearly a material feature of world right arrangements that Ms Anthony’s duties as agent would be reduced to almost nil, whilst Ms Anthony continued to obtain the same rate of commission,” Justice Ward said
She dismissed Ms Anthony’s claim and ordered her to pay Ms Moreton $514,558 plus interest in refunded commissions.
The decision related only to Ms Moreton’s fifth and sixth books, even though Ms Anthony was found to be negligent in respects to books three and four, which Justice Ward said fell outside the period of statutory limitations.
Ms Moreton, who came from Queensland, now resides in London and has a new literary agent.
Ms Anthony was this year involved in a legal battle over the estate of Australian author and friend Colleen McCullogh.
Neither were in court to hear today’s judgment handed down.
Costs in the case are due to be determined early next year.