Virtuoso Legal Successful Against Goliaths Twentieth Century Fox in High Court Transfer Application

Stiwt Theatre (left), not to be mistaken with the Royal Albert Hall…

Virtuoso Legal act for Cyclone Events Limited (“Cyclone”), which is a family-run events company and the Stiwt Arts Trust (“Stiwt”), which runs a 490-seater Stiwt community arts theatre in Rhosllannerchrugog, in the northern Welsh county of Wrexham.

Cyclone, Stiwt and their respective directors were faced with High Court proceedings, brought by entertainment giants, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, and their music publishing arms, TCF Music Publishing Inc and Fox Film Music Corporation (‘Fox’) after Cyclone performed its own version of Fox’s “The Greatest Showman” at the Stiwt theatre last summer. 

The total ticket sales for the production amounted to around £40,000.  Despite this, Fox, represented by Wiggins proceeded to issue a High Court claim citing that the claim was worth “in excess of £200,000”. 

The Virtuoso Legal IP Protect team, led by director Philip Partington and assisted by trainee Gemma Wilson, immediately upon receipt of the proceedings back in August 2018 invited Fox to transfer the proceedings from the High Court to the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (“IPEC”).  Fox’s legal representatives refused and forced the parties into an expensive hearing on 25 January 2019.   By this point, Fox had incurred over £90,000 in legal fees and forced Cyclone and Stiwt into incurring around £30,000.

In brief, the relevant factors to be considered when making a decision on a transfer to the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court are:

  • The size of the parties
  • The complexity of the claim
  • The nature of the evidence
  • Any conflicting factual evidence
  • The value of the claim

Prior to and during the hearing before Master Clark on 25 January 2019, Fox had made their agreement to transfer these proceedings to IPEC conditional on (1) lifting of the IPEC £500,000 damages cap and (2) payment of Fox’s legal costs by Cyclone and Stiwt.  Both conditions were rejected by the court and Master Clark agreed with Nick Zweck of Hogarth Chambers, Virtuoso Legal’s instructed counsel, that the appropriate court for these proceedings was the IPEC and that Fox ought to pay Cyclone and Stiwt’s legal costs of the application.

Of today’s decision, Philip Partington said

This case illustrates that would be Claimants should be extremely careful when issuing a claim. For those who do issue in the wrong court, the sooner transfer is agreed, the lower your cost exposure”.

For more information about this judgment, please contact Elizabeth Ward or Philip Partington via email, or call:

02074 128 372

You may also like...