23rd Sep 2021
Rowan Pennington-Benton (instructed by Pinder Reaux & Associates Ltd) for the Applicant.
This is an application for disclosure before proceedings start pursuant to CPR Part 31.16, as preserved by para 1.10 of CPR Practice Direction 51U, being the Disclosure Pilot in operation in the Business and Property Courts. The application was issued in the Commercial Court, but transferred for hearing in the Business List by order of HHJ Pelling QC dated 10 July 2021.
The application relates to a licence agreement made on 20 December 2019 between the Applicant and the First Respondent (“SL24”), and signed by the Second Respondent on behalf of SL24 as its director (“the License Agreement”). It is supported by draft particulars of claim drafted by Mr Rowan Pennington-Benton, who appeared on the application on behalf of the Applicant. Mr Michael Duggan QC appeared for the Respondents.
It is alleged in the draft particulars of claim that the Applicant owned the licensing and broadcasting rights to certain sporting events, including the British Touring Car Championship and Porsche Carrera UK. The Applicant alleges that, under the License Agreement, it granted to SL24 a licence and sub-licence to use on its own platform the Applicant’s broadcasting rights in these events and in consideration of this, SL24 agreed to pay 100% of its net revenue to the Applicant. A further entity, Team-Up Labs Inc (“Team-Up”), a Delaware company, was made a party to the License Agreement, apparently so that it could receive US-source revenues derived from or related to the agreement. There appears to have been discussion about the purchase of Team-Up by the Applicant, but this did not in the event take place.
The draft particulars of claim go on to allege that the License Agreement was made on the basis that the onward sale or licensing of the broadcasting rights mentioned above would be made under contract with the US Federal Bureau of Prisons (“FBP”). It is said that Mr Tatlock told Mr Stewart Mison of the Applicant in October 2019 that an agreement was already in place with the FBP under which SL24 or another company owned by Mr Tatlock, SEE-Engagement Ltd, provided broadcasts for a fee of USD1 per prisoner and that the services were used by around 2 million prisoners. The Applicant asserts that Mr Tatlock confirmed that, pursuant to the License Agreement, the content would be licensed to SL24 and then fed into the FBP system or directly, or under an existing agreement with SEE-Engagement Ltd and a back-to-back agreement with the Applicant.
The Applicant then alleges that Mr Tatlock represented that the content was ‘passported’ into FBP prisons in or around December 2019 or January 2020, and that an invoice was said to have been sent by Team-Up to the FBP in the sum of USD2m, and then subsequently represented on 8 February 2020 that the invoice had not been paid but that this was nothing more than an administrative issue, as a Chase bank account had not been registered on the payment profile for the FBP. On 28 February 2020, Mr Tatlock confirmed that SL24 had received a cheque from the FBP, but then “the farce continued, with various excuses being raised including that the cheque in fact had not been received after all but was lost in the postal system”.