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Johnny Halliday's Affair - Conflict Process Analysis

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Conflict Process Analysis

Léa Schaegis – Paris Campus – 13 October 2018


This paper will focus on the mediatic conflict around the Hallyday Family. After Johnny Hallyday died, on the 5th of December 2017, the inheritance battle over his hundred millions euros fortune made big waves inside the family. I chose to tell more about this conflict as the whole France has heard a lot about it for 8 months and it is not over yet as the court decided on a new audience on the 22nd of November 2018. I wanted to know more and understand this very mediatic conflict.

In this article I will first describe the situation of the conflict by explaining who are the parties and what are their objectives. Secondly, I will analyze the situation, and expose their links, interests and motivations. By examining it more closely, I expect to understand more about family conflicts, mediation, and inheritance conflicts. I also expect to be able to understand the issues of the process which will occur in a month.

Description of the Situation

Everything started after the death of the legendary rockstar Johnny Hallyday, and after his testament was publish. The family is composed of Laetitia, his fourth wife with whom he lived for 21 years, his two adopted daughters Jade and Joy, aged of 13 and 9 years old, and his two big children David Hallyday and Laura Smet aged of 51 and 34 years old. The whole family seemed to be quite welded and the big children said they completely accepted Johnny Hallyday’s new family and choices even if the acceptance was not easy as Laetitia, the new wife was as old as Laura, the first daughter.

Weeks after the huge show of national unity and the disclosure of the testament of the artist, in the beginning of 2018, the whole family bowed up and engaged in an mediatic inheritance battle. The legacy divides the family as his wife Laetitia, is based on a Californian will written in 2014 which, states, she is with Jade and Joy, the only heiress of the singer.

This document is disputed by Johnny's other children, David and Laura, who launched a lawsuit as they were left out of the singer’s will, and had nothing. “Not a guitar, not a motorbike, and not even the signed sleeve of the song 'Laura' which is dedicated to her"  according to her lawyers, in a statement to the press.

In France, the law does not allow to disinherit one of you child. David and Laura try to make apply the French law and to cancel the Californian trust so that they could benefit from three quarters of the inheritance (divided by the four children) and to let the fourth quarter to his wife. Lawyers will battle to know if his links there were sufficiently “durable” to prove French law need to apply or not.

In the initial situation Laetitia Hallyday clearly holds the power. The conflict seems apparent for the relatives to the family. In a mourning, we expect the family to be united and to support each other. Moreover, the whole French population is affected by this conflict as Johnny was the French favorite singer. Lots of people are expecting a “good end” so that the memory of the singer is respected.

This conflict is about a conflict of interest. From my perspective, the first cause is money. They all fight to know who will keep the biggest part of the legacy. Another big part of the conflict is linked to pride. They are pride of Johnny and want to keep a regard on his works. I think this conflict can be defined as

The main issue in the conflict is to know who will keep the real estate properties, who will earn which part of the 100 million euros legacy and who will have a role in the preparation of the not-yet-released posthumous album of Johnny.

The conflict gives me an impression of disappointment and sadness. I was not the biggest fan of the artist but he is completely part of the French culture and he played a major role in the music history. He was a very charismatic and talented person and I feel frustrated that the family fights in a public way and that people only hear about him concerning this conflict. I would have preferred, not to heard about this conflict and keep intact his work and memory. I probably feel this way about the conflict as I have grown up listening his songs. Without being a special fan, I know his work, I have seen him a lot and I respect his past. I do not take part in the conflict and I imagine both sides are legitimate. On the one hand, being Laura and David I would give everything I have and fight to obtain a part of legacy. On the other hand, being Laetitia I would like to keep a big part of what I have as my husband would have wanted to.  

Analyzing the situation

The conflict moved from the initial situation through the management phase when Laura and David, the two big children decided to go to court and to claim for a review of testament. They hired lawyers ready to fight for their will. Currently, the final judgment has not been pronounced and the conflict is not over. Protagonists are still trying to find an agreement and to solve the problem. Both parts communicate indirectly, through lawyers. When they exceptionally meet, they are never alone, and everything they say is recorded. When they met for the audience they made their testimonies, claims and offer so that the court can decide and solve the problem in the best way.

The conflict has known 3 majors steps up to now :

  • the revelation of the testament and the decision to go to the court done by Laura
  • the beginning of the trial with the first audience (composed with both parties, lawyers and judges) on the 15th of march
  • the result of the court given last April

The trial is not over and a new audience will take place on the 22nd of November 2018. 

The actors in the conflict have family links. Their relationship is actually the base of the conflict. Without those links, the conflict would never have existed. There is a mutual notion of respect and as they care about each other, the conflict and its resolution have a bigger impact. Both parties are legitimate in this conflict and we can imagine the situation for them is not easy to live. This kind of conflict is said to be dysfunctional as the relationship between both side will certainly  be destructed at the end. As both sides don’t have a big BATNA (best alternative to negotiated agreement) they are ready to fight and give everything they have to achieve their goals.



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