Michael Jackson has parted from lawyers representing him in a court action, with the law firm claiming it quit but the pop star saying he fired them.
Jackson was found not guilty of child abuse charges 14 months ago
A New York judge allowed law firm Wachtel & Masyr to quit the case after it said it had not been paid and had difficulty contacting Mr Jackson.
But a letter from Mr Jackson said he had fired the lawyers last month.
Finance company Prescient Acquisition Group is suing the singer, saying it is owed $48m (£26m).
The firm alleges it helped Mr Jackson find investors to help pay off a $272.5m (£145m) debt, and arrange $537.5m (£287m) in financing to secure the Beatles' back catalogue.
In a letter to the court on Tuesday, attorney William Wachtel said his law firm had dealt with Mr Jackson through a series of intermediaries who repeatedly quit or were fired.
Mr Jackson had promised to be in better contact after the sole face-to-face meeting in June, the letter said.
"Unfortunately, Mr Jackson has failed to respond to every e-mail and telephone message left for him over the past four weeks," it said.
US District Judge Kevin Castel said he wanted the parties back in court on 5 September, and that Mr Jackson had to hire a new lawyer or appear himself.
A California court last month awarded $900,000 (£480,000) to an ex-business associate of Mr Jackson who sued for $3.8m (£2m) he said he was owed.
The court awarded Mr Jackson $200,000 (£107,000) in a cross-complaint.