Copyright claim struck out,
Sullivan v Bristol Film Studios Ltd  EWCA civ 570.
In Sullivan v Bristol Film Studios Ltd the Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal from a strike out of a claim for copyright, moral rights and performers’ rights infringement and breach of contract. The claim was struck out as an abuse of the process of the court because even if it were to succeed the costs of fighting the dispute would be out of all proportion to the amount that the claimant was likely to recover.
The claim was brought by a hip hop artist who had contracted with the Defendant film company to make a video. After the film had been made, it was uploaded to YouTube. The Claimant did not like the film and demanded its removal from YouTube and after 5 days the film was taken down. The Claimant was not represented by solicitors or Counsel.
The Judge considered that the maximum amount recoverable if successful would be £50 . The Claimant had conceded during the appeal that if his claim was worth only £50 it should not go forward to trial, the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal.
- “The mere fact that a claim is small should not automatically result in the court refusing to hear it at all. If I am entitled to recover a debt of £50 I should, in principle, have access to justice to enable me to recover it if my debtor does not pay. It would be an affront to justice if my claim were simply struck out.”
- “It is only if there is no proportionate procedure by which a claim can be adjudicated that it would be right to strike it out as an abuse of process.”
The case should have been allocated to the small claim track rather than been struck out. Reference had been made to Jameel where a libel case was struck out because;
- “The game will not merely not have been worth the candle, it will not have been worth the wick.”
That case was different because there was no other procedure to deal with such a claim other than the High Court. In other cases where there is a proportionate procedure the care should be transferred to it rather than being struck out.
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