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The Premier League has successfully obtained summary judgment for over $212 million in its claim against PPLive, its former broadcasting partner for mainland China and Macau.

The case arose out of the $701m deal between the parties for broadcasting rights in relation to the 2019 to 2022 Premier League Seasons.

PPLive defaulted on its payment obligations in early 2020 and sought to argue that the suspension of the Premier League Season in March 2020 (in response to the COVID-19 pandemic) and its resumption in June 2020 under different conditions (including the absence of fans in stadiums) amounted to a breach of warranty by the Premier League that the Premier League competition would not undergo any fundamental change in format.

In his judgment, Mr Justice Fraser completely rejected that argument, finding that none of the changes relied on by PPLive amounted to a change in the format of the competition. Fraser J also rejected PPLive’s argument that its obligation to pay fees under the broadcasting agreements was divisible such that the Premier League would be unjustly enriched if it obtained payment of the outstanding debts. That argument was unsustainable, not least in the light of the Court of Appeal’s recent authoritative statement of the relationship between unjust enrichment and contractual claims in Dargamo Holdings Limited and another v Avonwick Holdings Limited and others [2021] EWCA Civ 1149. Just as in Avonwick, this was an attempt to use the principle of unjust enrichment to override, rather than complement, the express contractual obligations between the parties.

Robert Howe QC and Peter Head acted for the Premier League.

The judgment can be found here.

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