Critical stage for Jordan and Vodafone

The ongoing court case between Jordan Grand Prix and Vodafone is expected to reach its crucial phase during the next week in London's High Court

Critical stage for Jordan and Vodafone

The crux of the issue is that Jordan claims it had reached a sponsorship agreement with the mobile telecommunications company prior to it announcing its current sponsorship of Ferrari. Vodafone announced the Ferrari backing in May 2001 and Jordan commenced its proceedings a month later.

English law does not necessarily require written evidence of a contract for a verbal commitment to be binding and Jordan is attempting to prove that actions taken by the team reflect its view that a concrete agreement was in place.

Jordan alleges that it had a deal, understood to be worth $150 million over three years. Initially, it is believed, Vodafone required title sponsorship, colour association and, crucially, no tobacco association.

Jordan, therefore, allowed an option with backers Benson & Hedges to lapse. The tobacco company subsequently made alternative advertising arrangements and when the Jordan deal was renegotiated after all, there was a significantly reduced budget available. Ironically, Vodafone's Ferrari arrangement sees its livery on the car alongside long-time tobacco sponsor Marlboro.

Jordan has come under pressure to drop the case, specifically when Ferrari's Jean Todt told the team in Brazil that he would not vote for F1's much-discussed 'fighting fund' to help Jordan and Minardi, unless they did so.

Jordan, however, has stuck to its guns. Legal minds with experience in such matters suggest that even if it is unlikely that the team will win a judgement for the full amount of the alleged deal, they may be able to recover compensation for the reduction in their Benson & Hedges funds.

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