Supreme Court Takes Up Slayer Suit Against Secret Solstice Festival

slayer lawsuit secret solstice iceland

Iceland’s Supreme Court has accepted an appeal by American thrash metal band Slayer against the organisers of the Secret Solstice festival.

Slayer performed at the 2018 festival and allege that they were never paid for their performance.

In a 2020 ruling, organisers of Secret Solstice were ordered by a Reykjavík district court to pay a sum of ISK 20 million (USD 138,900; EUR 143,800) to Slayer. Despite some ambiguity in communications regarding the payment, it was determined that Slayer should be compensated with the personal assets of the organisers.

Read more: Former Secret Solstice Organiser Bankrupt

However, earlier this year, the decision was revisited by the National Court, which then acquitted Live Events, the former organisers.

With the former organisers in bankruptcy, representatives from Slayer have claimed that assets were misused during the bankruptcy, and that there is precedent for payment obligation in such cases. After the festival’s bankruptcy, it was sold to several different legal entities. Confusion arose after public statements by one of the directors of Live Events, which claimed that all debts would be settled. Now, the Supreme Court of Iceland is taking up the case.

Central to the case is whether the statement in question was general in nature, or whether it constituted a binding contract.

The Supreme Court has taken up the case partly because it believes that the case will have broader importance in setting precedent in cases of payment obligation with multiple debtors.

Secret Solstice May Relocate Amidst Nonpayment Complaints

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1555062230097{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]The Secret Solstice music festival owes the City of Reykjavík a total of ISK 42.5 million ($354,000/€314,000), RÚV reports, a debt that the capital’s district commissioner has unsuccessfully attempted to recover four times already. The news comes amidst multiple complaints from previous headliners and performers who say they still have not been paid for taking part in previous years’ festivals. Nevertheless, representatives for Secret Solstice insist that this year’s event will go on as planned – with or without the city’s involvement – and will be the “biggest and best yet.”

Performers say they haven’t been paid

Secret Solstice has been held annually in Reykjavík since 2014. In that time, festival attendance has gone from 8,000 attendees in the first year to upwards of 15,000 in 2018. The festival has hosted dozens of big name international acts such as Bonnie Tyler, Deftones, FKA Twigs, Foo Fighters, The Prodigy, Radiohead, and the Wu Tang Clan, among others. This year’s headliners include Black Eyed Peas, Patti Smith, Pussy Riot, and Robert Plant. However, although Solstice Productions, the company that previously managed the festival put on an additional large concert with Guns ‘N Roses only last year, it seems that numerous Secret Solstice performers have yet to be paid.

Metal band Slayer, who headlined in 2018, is reportedly suing the festival organisers for only having received partial payment; the band says it is still owed ISK 16 million ($133,000/€118,000). The Icelandic feminist rap collective Reykjavíkurdætur has also recently blasted the festival, saying that not only were they not paid for last year’s festival, but they’ve also been invited this year to perform for free.

Representatives for Secret Solstice have stated that the festival was sold to a new company, Live Events, and as such, is not responsible for settling previous festival debts incurred by Solstice Productions. Live Events is registered to Guðmundur Hreiðarsson Viborg, an economist who resides in the Canary Islands. “The alleged debt has absolutely nothing to do with Live Events, as the company was not involved with previous festivals,” read a statement issued by Secret Solstice lawyers.

Relocation under discussion

Secret Solstice has a contract with the City of Reykjavík that should allow it to hold the festival in a large park in Laugardalur neighbourhood every summer until 2020. This location has proved controversial, as residents in the surrounding neighborhoods have complained about festivalgoers’ persistent drug use as well as organisers leaving the festival grounds strewn with garbage after the end of the event.

Organisers have pledged to address these complaints but may not be able to reconcile with the city so easily. In light of its outstanding debt, in fact, the City of Reykjavík has stated that permits will not be issued for the 2019 event unless ISK 11.6 million [$96,699; € 85,788] of its debt is paid by April 1, 2019.

As such, Secret Solstice seems to be considering other options for festival locations. RÚV reports that representatives for the festival met with the mayor of the Ölfus municipality in South Iceland on Wednesday about the possibility of hosting the event there. According to an announcement made the same day, negotiations are underway with Fákasel, a restaurant and horse park located about half an hour outside of Reykjavík, to possibly stage the event on their spacious property.

Ölfus mayor Elliði Vignisson noted that a festival of Secret Solstice’s size is perhaps better suited to being held in a less populous area. And while nothing has been decided for certain about the relocation, he’s open to the idea: “You should never say no until you’ve first said maybe.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]