|The High Court today handed down judgement in an interim hearing between Attheraces ('ATR') and the BHB concerning an alleged abuse by the BHB of its dominant position in relation to pre-race data. The Court decided to grant ATR a temporary injunction preventing the BHB from terminating the supply of pre-race data to ATR. As a result, the BHB gave an undertaking to the Court to this effect. This decision ends a bad week for the BHB after the Court of Appeal found in favour of William Hill (click here for Wednesday's update).|
When ATR terminated its Media Rights Agreement with the 49 racecourses last year, its pre-race data licence from the BHB automatically terminated at the same time. When ATR relaunched its coverage of British racing last June it entered into an agreement with the Press Association ('PA') for the supply of a pre-race data feed and started negotiations with the BHB for the grant of a licence of the BHB's database rights in the pre-race data.
No agreement was ever reached between ATR and the BHB and, earlier this year, the BHB said that unless ATR agreed to pay licence fees to the BHB, it would instruct PA to terminate its supply of pre-race data to ATR.
ATR (represented by Olswang) then commenced proceedings claiming that the threat by the BHB to prevent PA from supplying pre-race data to ATR constituted an abuse of a dominant position under EU and UK competition law and applied for an injunction to prevent the supply from being terminated. In response, the BHB sought an order to strike out or summarily dismiss ATR's claims, having succeeded a few weeks earlier in persuading Laddie J to strike out a similar claim made by Victor Chandler International against the BHB.
High Court Decision
In the hearing, the BHB relied heavily on the precedent it claimed had been established by the VCI case but the judge found that VCI's application had failed largely due to deficiencies in their claim and that he was not, therefore, bound by the VCI decision. He refused to strike out ATR's claim as he decided that ATR had a seriously arguable case to receive a full injunction at trial.
The Court held that the supply of pre-race data was essential to ATR's business and the potential loss of business could not be compensated in money. The Court noted that ATR could take similar data from newspapers but this would not necessarily be up-to-date. On the balance of convenience therefore, the Court decided to grant an injunction to ATR, maintaining the status quo and preventing the BHB from terminating the supply. ATR were required to pay into escrow significantly reduced payments from those previously demanded by the BHB.
Steven Baker (tel: 020 7067 3198 and email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Paul Stevens (tel: 020 7067 3306 and email: email@example.com)