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Football League Ltd v edge ellison (a firm) and (1) Active Rights Management Ltd (2) Clive Stephen Townley

A solicitors’ firm did not owe a general implied duty under its retainer to seek the instructions of a committee, which had been established to negotiate licences of media rights, as to a bidder's solvency or as to whether requests were to be made for parent company guarantees. However, the firm had, in the circumstances, breached its duty of care by failing to take instructions in respect of a financial paragraph in a bid document and by not seeking to negotiate the inclusion of guarantees in an agreement. Nominal damages were awarded as neither breach had caused substantial damage.

7 July 2006

The claimant company (F), which owned the broadcasting rights to football matches played by its member clubs that made up the Football League, claimed damages for alleged negligence of the defendant firm of solicitors (E), which had acted for F on the licensing of the television rights to a broadcasting company (O). In the event, F’s claim against E succeeded, E sought an indemnity or contribution from the Part 20 defendants who had been retained by F to advise on the strategy for the licensing of the television rights. F had granted the licence of the television rights to O for three years from the start of the 2001/2002 season. The total amount payable by O was £315m. In a television strategy document, F had identified E’s duties in relation to the grant of the rights. In 2002, O stopped broadcasting and went into liquidation. A substantial part of the £315m was unpaid. F’s claim for a declaration that O’s parent companies were guarantors of O’s liabilities was dismiss...

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