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Ian Mill QC and George Molyneaux acted for the defendant sportswear manufacturer in its successful application to strike out claims brought by two companies which hold rights to the image of Marouane Fellaini, a Manchester United and Belgium football player.

The claims related to negotiations which took place in 2016-17 regarding a potential endorsement agreement. Various draft agreements passed between the parties, but none was ever signed by New Balance (or, indeed, one of the claimant companies). New Balance indicated in early 2017 that it did not wish to pursue the negotiations further.

The claimants alleged: (i) that a contract had been concluded in September 2016 by an exchange of emails, and that New Balance breached that contract by breaking off negotiations; alternatively (ii) that New Balance breached an obligation (said to arise from a contract that had expired in the summer of 2016) to negotiate in good faith. 

May J held: (i) that the parties’ intention was that any agreement would be concluded only upon signature by all of them; (ii) that there was no obligation on New Balance to negotiate in good faith; and (iii) that, even if there were such an obligation, New Balance had not breached it. She therefore concluded that the claimants’ claims were bound to fail, and that as such they should be struck out.

The full judgment is available here.

Ian and George were instructed by George Lubega and Richard Wilson of CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang LLP.

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