Let’s Moot

In today’s class we had a moot on law of confidence. My group was representing the respondent, Channel Xstra.

A moot is an argument or discussion of a hypothetical legal case.  Click HERE to learn more about mooting.

The moot problem:

     Simms v Channel Xstra    

The plaintiff, Terry Simms, is an actor of some limited fame. After being ‘killed off’ in a recent episode of West Enders, a popular serial on BBC television, Mr Simms had an idea for a television serial. The storyline revolved around a group of young clothes designers, struggling to hit the big time in the tough world of fashion. Mr Simms spoke to Janet Nye, a well known scriptwriter, hoping to interest her in the idea of turning his storyline into scripts. Nye took the idea to Frank Blyton, a producer of many well known television serials. On return, she told Simms that Blyton rejected the idea, saying that it would not have the mass appeal that is needed for a successful serial. Accepting that Nye’s expertise and Blyton’s verdict was correct,  Simms thought no more about the script. Some time later, Channel Xstra, a digital channel, started to broadcast a daily ‘soap’ serial, called ‘A lines’ , starring several well known actors of repute. The storyline was almost identical to that discussed by Simms and Nye. The producer was Blyton. Simms sued Channel Xstra, Nye and Blyton for breach of confidence, alleging that Blyton knew that the idea was his (Simms’s) when he was approached by Nye. The court found that Channel Xstra were approached with the idea without knowledge that it was Simm’s and that no breach of confidence had occurred by Channel Xstra. Stepney J also held that it was in the public interest that mere ideas for serials (which had not been written down or developed yet to the full) should be in the public domain and not protected by the laws of confidence.

Simms is appealing on two grounds:

  1. Channel Xstra were bound by the laws of confidence, even though they were a third party to the knowledge, and did not know that it had been imparted to Blyton in confidence.
  2. There was no public interest defence available to Channel Xstra in this situation.

Skeleton argument by my group on behalf of the respondent – Channel Xstra:

1st submission (to be addressed by Senior Counsel)

a) The respondent was not bound by the law of confidence because it was an innocent third party, and came by the confidential information without actual or constructive notice of fact that the information was to be treated confidentially – Fraser v Thames Television Ltd [1984] QB 44

2nd submission (to be addressed by Senior Counsel)

a) Damages/Account for Profit – it is submitted a grant for damages or an account for profit is inappropriate in the present case because there is no direct breach of confidence between the respondent and the Appellant.

b) Injunction – Because the confidential information has already been used and made into a television show, o orde the grant of an injunction to restrain further publication would be ineffective, as the information is now freel available in the public domain – Attorney-general v The Observer Ltd and others [1990] 1 AC 109 at 217C affirmed by HL

Prince Albert v Strange (1849) 2 De Gex & Smale 652

Schering Chemicals v Falkman [1982] QB 1

3rd submission  (Addressed by Junior Counsel)

Senior Counsel - Samuel Wilkinson

Senior Counsel – Samuel Wilkinson

Now, sit back, relax and bring some popcorn and watch the moot here:

“A good lawyer knows the law; a great lawyer knows the judge.”

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