Fisher v Brooker and Others: HL 30 Jul 2009

The claimant sought a share in the royalties from the song ‘A whiter shade of pale’ but had delayed his claim for 38 years. He had contributed the organ solo which had contributed significantly to the song’s success. He now sought a share of future royalties.
Held: His appeal was allowed. Limitation did not apply, and nor could the equitable doctrines of estoppel or laches be applied where the benefit of the delay to the defendant far outweighed any detriment from the delay. The issuing of a claim in 2005 revoked any implied licence to the defendants to continue to exploit the song.
Neuberger L said that laches could only bar equitable relief and a declaration as to the existence of a long term property right recognised as such by statute was not equitable relief, and in order to defeat the claimant’s claims on the ground of laches, the defendants had to demonstrate some acts during the delay period which resulted in a balance of justice justifying the refusal of relief to which the claimant would otherwise be entitled.

Lord Hope of Craighead
Lord Walker of Gestingthorpe, Baroness Hale of Richmond, Lord Mance, Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury
[2009] UKHL 41, Times 12-Aug-2009, [2009] 1 WLR 1764, [2009] FSR 25, [2009] Bus LR 1334, [2009] 4 All ER 789, [2009] ECDR 17, [2010] EMLR 2
Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 12, Duration of Copyright and Rights in Performances Regulations 1995 (SI 1995/3297), Limitation Act 1980 39
England and Wales
CitedZouch, Ex Dimiss Abbot And Hallet v Parsons 23-Nov-1765
Contract by Children for Necessities
Lord Mansfield said that: ‘miserable must the condition of minors be; excluded from the society and commerce of the world; deprived of necessaries, education, employment, and many advantages; if they could do no binding acts. Great inconvenience . .
Appeal fromBrooker and Another v Fisher CA 4-Apr-2008
The claimant had asserted a joint authorship of the song ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’ written in the sixties. The defendant appealed saying that the claim had been brought too late, and that the finding ignored practice in the music industry. The . .
At first instanceFisher v Brooker and Another ChD 20-Dec-2006
The claimant said that he had contributed to the copyright in the song ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’ but had been denied royalties. He had played the organ and particularly the organ solo which had contrbuted significantly to the fame of the record.
CitedGillett v Holt and Another CA 23-Mar-2000
Repeated Assurances Created Equitable Estoppel
Repeated assurances, given over years, that the claimant would acquire an interest in property on the death of the person giving the re-assurance, and upon which the claimant relied to his detriment, could found a claim of equitable estoppel. The . .
CitedSledmore v Dalby CA 8-Feb-1996
The plaintiff sought possession of a house. She had owned it with her late husband. The defendant lived in and had done much work on the house, but the deceased left it all to the plaintiff and the defendant’s wife who had since also died. She . .
CitedEdwards v Carter HL 1893
If an infant choses to repudiate a disposition, he must do so within a reasonable time after coming of age. . .
CitedJaggard v Sawyer and Another CA 18-Jul-1994
Recovery of damages after Refusal of Injunction
The plaintiff appealed against the award of damages instead of an injunction aftter the County court had found the defendant to have trespassed on his land by a new building making use of a private right of way.
Held: The appeal failed.
CitedShelfer v City of London Electric Lighting Company, Meux’s Brewery Co v Same CA 1895
The plaintiff sought damages and an injunction for nuisance by noise and vibration which was causing structural injury to a public house.
Held: The court set out the rules for when a court should not grant an injunction for an infringement of . .
CitedTaylors Fashions Ltd v Liverpool Victoria Trustees Co Ltd ChD 1981
The fundamental principle that equity is concerned to prevent unconscionable conduct permeates all the elements of the doctrine of estoppel. In the light of the more recent cases, the principle ‘requires a very much broader approach which is . .
CitedDoyle v White City Stadium Ltd CA 1934
A professional boxer, below the age for making a contract generally, was held to be bound by the terms of his licence from the British Boxing Board of Control, which allowed him to earn his living boxing but required him to keep the rules. It was . .
CitedShaw v Applegate CA 1977
There was a covenant against the use of a property as an amusement arcade. Within three years the purchaser had installed amusement machines, but it was not until three years later that the plaintiffs issued proceedings for an injunction and . .
CitedChaplin v Leslie Frewin (Publishers) Ltd 1966
It had been agreed that the defendant publishers should during the legal term of the copyright have the exclusive right of producing, publishing and selling a work in volume form in any language throughout the world. The author warranted that he was . .

Cited by:
CitedAdamson and Others v Paddico (267) Ltd SC 5-Feb-2014
Land had been registered as a town or village green but wrongly so. The claimant had sought rectification, but the respondents argued that the long time elapsed after registration should defeat the request.
Held: The appeal were solely as to . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Intellectual Property, Limitation, Equity, Children, Contract

Updated: 31 October 2021; Ref: scu.368926