Friday, May 05, 2006

Da Vinci disaster: Baigent and Leigh can't pay

Well, you and I never did believe the nonsense about the Da Vinci case being all a put-up job, financed by Random House (or the movie company) to gain free publicity. And now there is further evidence which must surely render that theory unbelievable to all except full-time conspiracy theorists.

At the end of the case, Baigent and Leigh (who sued Random House and lost) were ordered by the Judge to pay 85% of Random House's legal costs, which were estimated at £1.3 million. Now it seems that they have applied for more time to pay even the first instalment of £350,000, which is due today. And on top of that they also have their own legal bills to pay. Going to court in England is an expensive business, and it can cost you serious money even if you win, never mind lose.

The Judge is unimpressed by Baigent and Leigh. He said that they 'want money to spend without making any attempt to pay off their liabilities.' He told Baigent and Leigh's lawyer that 'Your clients have a liability to pay costs following a very expensive piece of litigation. If they cannot pay, they can be made bankrupt.'

So now they're in worse trouble than ever. They have to produce full details of their assets, income, and liabilities. Baigent also has to explain some fancy manoeuvres involving the transfer of his home into his wife's name.

The BBC has the story; link from

What did I say right at the beginning? On 24 September 2004 I said that Baigent and Leigh's chances were close to zero. And I repeated that opinion when the court case actually started. What is more, I said that the third author of The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail was making a smart move when he declined to join his co-authors in court.

My guess is, I said, on 1 March 2006, that the third author, Henry Lincoln, had a think about the situation, noted the vagaries of English law, and the prodigiously high cost of trying to rectify wrongs through same, and said to his friends something like this:

'Well guys, if you want to pay the enormous school fees (£25,000 a year nowadays) for the numerous children of several already more than comfortably placed English lawyers, feel free. But include me out.'

Thus proving that he is just about the only sensible person in the whole business. The only rational explanation for Baigent and Leigh's action is that they assumed that Random House would settle out of court, and pay them some money, rather than run the risk of having the good name of their golden goose (Dan Brown) besmirched in court. Baigent and Leigh gambled, and lost. And whatever may be the case with gambling debts, legal debts certainly are enforceable at law.


Phil W said...

Baigent and Leigh don't appear to have much sense or class.

Martin said...

Something that hasn't been discussed much is that whereas Brown's book is a piece of not-very-good fiction, Baigent et al.'s book is a work of pseudohistory. In the 80s a lot of people of the newage (cf. sewage) persuasion believed every word of it. And it's about as well-founded as David Irving's views on 40s Polish shower installations.

archer said...

To an American, the "loser pays" system seems as quaint as debtor's prison. We bear our own costs. Also, we have our notorious contingent fee system; and as a result, over here the poorest man on the block can sue the hugest corporation on the planet without fearing the fate of poor Messrs. Baigent & Lee.

Our rich, unsurprisingly, favor the British way. They agitate for it. It won't happen, because then there would be very little risk to insure against. Insurance companies would then go out of business, causing the end of the world.

Jpatrick said...

I think this case really draws out the difference between inspiration and plagiarism. No doubt Brown used these books in developing "The Code".

Dee Jour said...

Good on Brown for persevering through, what essentially is, envy. One wonders whether Baigent and Leigh would have pursued legal action if the Da Vinci Code wasn't successful. At the end of the day, this novel captured the minds of everyday people (those who aren't stressed about the 'arty' merits of a work and all the snobbish attitude that goes with that type of mindset), he turned it into an action packed story not a replica of Baigent et al's Holy Blood, Holy Grail.

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