HM Attorney General v Blake (Jonathan Cape Ltd third Party intervening): HL 3 Aug 2000

Restitutionary Claim against Pofits from Breach

The author had written his book in breach of his duty of confidence. Having signed the Official Secrets Act, he accepted a contractual private law duty. After conviction as a spy, the publication of the book was in breach of the undertaking by not first seeking authority to publish.
Held: In a case where the usual remedies for breach of contract were insufficient, it was possible to make an order which would remove from the person in breach of contract, the benefits of the breach. In these circumstances, it was appropriate to award a sum equal to the amount of royalties he would receive from his publisher. The law now recognises a restitutionary claim for profits made from a breach of contract in cases of ‘skimped’ performance, and cases where the defendant obtained his profit by doing ‘the very thing’ he contracted not to do, as here.

Lord Nicholls of Birkenhead Lord Goff of Chieveley Lord Browne-Wilkinson Lord Steyn Lord Hobhouse of Wood-borough
Gazette 17-Aug-2000, Times 03-Aug-2000, [2000] UKHL 45, [2000] 4 All ER 385, [2000] 3 WLR 625, [2001] 1 AC 268
House of Lords, Bailii
Official Secrets Act 1911
England and Wales
CitedHalifax Building Society v Thomas and Another CA 29-Jun-1995
Defrauded Mortgagee cannot take surplus on sale
A Building Society cannot keep any excess proceeds of sale of a house mortgaged to it by fraud. Policy was against unjust enrichment and will not allow a lender to take a profit from a fraudulent borrower.
Peter Gibson LJ said: ‘I remain wholly . .
CitedHogg v Kirby 15-Mar-1803
Injunction to restrain publishing a Magazine as a continuation of the Plaintiff’s Magazine in numbers, and as to communications from correspondents, received by the Defendant while publishing for the Plaintiff ; not preventing the publication of an . .
CitedLever v Goodwin CA 1887
In trade mark and patent cases the plaintiff was entitled, if he succeeded in getting an injunction, to take either of two forms of relief: he might claim from the defendant either the damage he had sustained from the defendant’s wrongful act or the . .
CitedLeeds Industrial Co-operative Society Ltd v Slack HL 1924
The plaintiff complained of a threatened interference with ancient lights.
Held: Damages may be awarded in lieu of an injunction even where the injunction sought is a quia timet injunction, but that power imports a further power to give an . .
CitedRobinson v Harman 18-Jan-1848
Damages for breach of contract should compensate the victim of the breach for the loss of his contractual bargain. Baron Parke said: ‘The next question is: What damages is the plaintiff entitled to recover? The rule of the common law is, that where . .
CitedBeswick v Beswick HL 29-Jun-1967
The deceased had assigned his coal merchant business to the respondent against a promise to pay andpound;5.00 a week to his widow whilst she lived. The respondent appealed an order requiring him to make the payments, saying that as a consolidating . .
PreferredWrotham Park Estate Ltd v Parkside Homes Ltd ChD 1974
55 houses had been built by the defendant, knowingly in breach of a restrictive covenant, imposed for the benefit of an estate, and in the face of objections by the claimant.
Held: The restrictive covenant not to develop other than in . .
DisapprovedSurrey County Council v Bredero Homes Ltd CA 7-Apr-1993
A local authority had sold surplus land to a developer and obtained a covenant that the developer would develop the land in accordance with an existing planning permission. The sole purpose of the local authority in imposing the covenant was to . .
CitedReid-Newfoundland Co v Anglo-American Telegraph Co Ltd PC 1912
A railway company agreed not to transmit any commercial messages over a particular telegraph wire except for the benefit and account of the telegraph company.
Held: The railway company was liable to account as a trustee for the profits it . .
CitedBritish Motor Trade Association v Gilbert 1951
The Association had attempted to control the price of cars in the context of statutory support. It was after the Second World war and new cars were in short supply. Buyers of new cars had to contract not to sell the car bought for two years without . .
CitedAttorney General v De Keyser’s Royal Hotel Ltd HL 10-May-1920
A hotel had been requisitioned during the war for defence purposes. The owner claimed compensation. The AG argued that the liability to pay compensation had been displaced by statute giving the Crown the necessary powers.
Held: There is an . .

Cited by:
CitedExperience Hendrix LLC v PPX Enterprises Inc and Another CA 20-Mar-2003
The claimant had obtained an interim injunction against the defendant for copyright infringement, though it could show no losses. It now sought additionally damages. The defendant argued that it could not have both.
Held: The case arose form . .
CitedDesign Progression Limited v Thurloe Properties Limited ChD 25-Feb-2004
The tenant applied for a licence to assign. The landlord failed to reply, anticipating that delay would allow it to generate a better lease renewal.
Held: The delay was unreasonable and a breach of the landlord’s statutory duty, and was an act . .
CitedSevern Trent Water Ltd v Barnes CA 13-May-2004
The water company appealed an award of damages after it had been found to have laid a water main under the claimant’s land without his knowledge or consent. The court had awarded restitutionary damages.
Held: The judge fell into error in . .
CitedBorders (UK) Ltd and others v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis and Another CA 3-Mar-2005
The second defendant had received large numbers of stolen books and sold them from his stall. An application for compensation was made at his trial. Compensatory and exemplary damages were sought, but the court had to consider how to estimate the . .
CitedWWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) and Another v World Wrestling Federation Entertainment Inc CA 2-Apr-2007
The parties had disputed use of the initals WWF, with a compromise reached in 1994 allowing primary use by the Fund with restricted use by the Federation. The Federation now appealed an award of damages made after a finding of a breach of the . .
CitedHarris v Williams-Wynne ChD 11-Feb-2005
The parties agreed in sale agreement for a plot of land that the buyer would not erect any additional building. He did so, and when he came to try to sell it the original vendor objected. The purchaser’s solicitors registered the agreement for sale. . .
CitedBrennan v National Westminster Bank Plc QBD 27-Nov-2007
The claimant, a customer of the defendant had been charged sums when he went overdrawn beyond his limit. He claimed that the sums were unlawful penalties under the Regulations. The bank said that it had refunded the charges. The claimant sought . .
CitedGrobbelaar v News Group Newspapers Ltd and Another CA 18-Jan-2001
The claimant had been awarded andpound;85,000 damages in defamation after the defendant had wrongly accused him of cheating at football. The newspaper sought to appeal saying that the verdict was perverse and the defence of qualified privilege . .
CitedMohamed, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (No 1) Admn 21-Aug-2008
The claimant had been detained by the US in Guantanamo Bay suspected of terrorist involvement. He sought to support his defence documents from the respondent which showed that the evidence to be relied on in the US courts had been obtained by . .
CitedDevenish Nutrition Ltd v Sanofi-Aventis Sa (France) and others CA 14-Oct-2008
The defendant had been involved in price fixing arrangements, and the claimant sought damages for breach of its proprietary rights. The claimant appealed refusal of an award an account of profits for what was akin to a breach of statutory duty.
CitedRamzan v Brookwide Ltd CA 19-Aug-2011
The defendant had broken through into a neighbour’s flying freehold room, closed it off, and then included it in its own premises for let. It now appealed against the quantum of damages awarded. The judge had found the actions deliberate and with a . .
Cited32Red Plc v WHG (International) Ltd and Others ChD 12-Apr-2013
The court had found trade mark infringement by the defendant and now considered the quantification of damages. . .
CitedMorris-Garner and Another v One Step (Support) Ltd SC 18-Apr-2018
The Court was asked in what circumstances can damages for breach of contract be assessed by reference to the sum that the claimant could hypothetically have received in return for releasing the defendant from the obligation which he failed to . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Damages, Contract, Media

Leading Case

Updated: 31 October 2021; Ref: scu.77983