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Summary Judgment in football broadcasting rights case: Premier League 1 - 0 PPLive

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The Premier League was awarded over USD 200m by way of summary judgment against PPLive in its case about football broadcasting rights during the pandemic.  

The Premier League and PPLive entered into contracts worth over USD 700m for the broadcasting rights in Mainland China and Macau of the 2019-2022 Premier League seasons.  PPLive failed to pay two instalments in early 2020.  In the second half of 2020 the Premier League terminated the contracts and sought summary judgment for the unpaid sums.   

PPLive argued that the changes to the conditions under which the matches were played during the COVID-19 pandemic, namely the compressed timeframe and fact that matches were played in empty stadiums, was a breach of warranty that there would be no fundamental change in the “format of the competition”.  

The court applied well-established principles of contractual construction from Wood v Capita  in determining that the “format of the competition” related to matters such as number of matches played, how points were awarded, the identity of the winner and league placings. None of these factors changed as a result of the pandemic. Given the court’s conclusion on the “format of the competition”, it was not necessary to go on to consider whether such changes had a “material adverse effect” on PPLive, which the court felt could not have been resolved summarily.

PPLive also claimed restitution on the basis that the Premier League would be overpaid if it received the unpaid instalments. The court also rejected this argument finding that it was an attempt to use the principle of unjust enrichment to override rather than compliment the express contractual provisions.

Judgment: Premier League v PPLive


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