MCA Records Inc and Another v Charly Records Ltd and others (No 5): CA 5 Oct 2001

The court discussed the personal liability of a director for torts committed by his company: ‘i) a director will not be treated as liable with the company as a joint tortfeasor if he does no more than carry out his constitutional role in the governance of the company–that is to say, by voting at board meetings.
ii) there is no reason why a person who happens to be a director or controlling shareholder of a company should not be liable with the company as a joint tortfeasor if he is not exercising control though the constitutional organs of the company and the circumstances are such that he would be so liable if he were not a director or controlling shareholder. In other words, if, in relation to the wrongful acts which are the subject of complaint, the liability of the individual as a joint tortfeasor with the company arises from his participation or involvement in ways which go beyond the exercise of constitutional control, then there is no reason why the individual should escape liability because he could have procured those same acts through the exercise of constitutional control.
iii) liability as a joint tortfeasor may arise where the individual ‘intends and procures and shares a common design that the infringement takes place’.
iv) whether or not there is a separate tort of procuring an infringement of a statutory right, actionable at common law, an individual who does ‘intend, procure and share a common design’ that the infringement should take place may be liable as a joint tortfeasor.’ (Chadwick LJ)

Lord Justice Simon Brown, Lord Justice Chadwick And Lord Justice Tuckey
[2001] EWCA Civ 1441, [2002] FSR 26, [2002] BCC 650, [2002] ECDR 37, [2003] 1 BCLC 93, [2002] EMLR 1
England and Wales
See AlsoMCA Records Inc v Charly Records Ltd and others (No 5) CA 29-Nov-2001
Thre had been an action for copyright and trade mark infringement. The court considered the personal liability of directors of the company for the costs of the action. . .
CitedUnilever Plc v Gillette (UK) Limited CA 1989
Unilever claimed infringement of its patent. The court was asked whether there was a good arguable case against the United States parent company of the existing defendant sufficient to justify the parent company to be joined as a defendant and to . .
CitedTownsend v Haworth CA 1875
The defendant sold chemicals to be used by the purchaser in infringement of patent and agreed to indemnify the purchaser if the patent should prove to be valid.
Held: Only the person who actually manufactures or sells infringing goods is the . .
CitedThe Koursk CA 1924
The navigators of two ships had committed two separate torts or one tort in which they were both tortfeasors.
Held: Three situations were identified where A might be jointly liable with B for B’s tortious act. Where A was master and B servant; . .
CitedPerforming Right Society Ltd v Ciryl Theatrical Syndicate Ltd 1924
The court looked at personal responsibility of the directors of a company for torts committed by the company: ‘Prima facie a managing director is not liable for tortious acts done by servants of the company unless he himself is privy to the acts, . .
CitedBrooke v Bool 1928
Volunteer Was Joint Tortfeasor
A and B set out together to investigate the source of a gas leak which was B’s direct concern alone. A had come with him to help. Because B was too old to carry out a particular task, A carried it out instead. The means of investigation was . .
CitedLumley v Gye 1853
Inducing breach of contract is a Tort
An opera singer (Miss Wagner) and the defendant theatre owner were joint wrongdoers. They had a common design that the opera singer should break her contract with the plaintiff theatre owner, refuse to sing in the plaintiff’s theatre and instead . .
CitedBelegging-en Exploitatiemaatschappij Lavender BV v Witten Industrial Diamonds Ltd 1979
The defendants sold diamond grit allegedly for the sole purpose of making grinding tools in which it was to be embedded in a resin bond as part of a grinding material patented by the plaintiffs.
Held: The defendants could not be infringers . .
CitedRainham Chemical Works Ltd (in liquidation) and others v Belvedere Fish Guano Co Ltd HL 1921
At a time of war, a process was invented where picric acid was manufactured from dinitrophenol (DNP) and nitrate of soda. DNP had been used mainly for the manufacture of dyes, and was a stable compound which did not explode easily. It was not in . .
CitedPLG Research Ltd and Another v Ardon International Ltd and Others ChD 25-Nov-1994
A patent infingement claim was met by the assertion that the material covered had been disclosed before the patent had been obtained. The court was asked as to the test of whether the information in a claim had been disclosed. Aldous J said: ‘Mr. . .
CitedC Evans and Sons Ltd v Spritebrand Ltd and another CA 1985
The court considered when a company director might be personally liable for acts of the company: ‘in order to make a director, other officer or employee of a company personally liable for the company’s tort, it is necessary to show either that he . .
CitedCBS Songs Ltd v Amstrad Consumer Electronics Plc HL 12-May-1988
The plaintiffs as representatives sought to restrain Amstrad selling equipment with two cassette decks without taking precautions which would reasonably ensure that their copyrights would not be infringed by its users.
Held: Amstrad could only . .
CitedMentmore Manufacturing Co Ltd v National Merchandising Manufacturing Co Inc 1978
(Federal Court of Appeal of Canada) The court described the question whether, and if so in what circumstances, a director should be liable with the company as a joint tortfeasor as ‘a very difficult question of policy.’ Mr Justice Le Dain: ‘On the . .
CitedStandard Chartered Bank v Pakistan National Shipping Corporation, Seaways Maritime Ltd, SGS United Kingdom Ltd, Oakprime International Ltd, Arvind Mehra (No 2) CA 27-Jul-2000
Where a deceit was established leading to an award of damages, that award of damages was not capable of being reduced under the 1949 Act through a contribution to the loss occasioned by the claimant’s own behaviour, where that behaviour did not fall . .
CitedWilliams and Another v Natural Life Health Foods Ltd and Another HL 30-Apr-1998
A company director was not personally reliable in negligence for bad advice given by him as director unless it could clearly be shown that he had willingly accepted such personal responsibility. A special relationship involving an assumption of . .
Appeal fromMCA Records Inc and Another v Charly Records Ltd and others ChD 22-Mar-2000
A licence to record is a one-off event authorising recording for the period of the licence. . .

Cited by:
See AlsoMCA Records Inc v Charly Records Ltd and others (No 5) CA 29-Nov-2001
Thre had been an action for copyright and trade mark infringement. The court considered the personal liability of directors of the company for the costs of the action. . .
CitedUltraframe (UK) Ltd v Fielding and others ChD 27-Jul-2005
The parties had engaged in a bitter 95 day trial in which allegations of forgery, theft, false accounting, blackmail and arson. A company owning patents and other rights had become insolvent, and the real concern was the destination and ownership of . .
CitedAnderson Antiques (UK) Ltd v Anderson Wharf (Hull) Ltd and Another ChD 23-May-2007
The claimants owned land against which they said, the defendant had wrongfully registered notices. They sought removal of the notices, damages, and an injunction to prevent further notices being registered. The first defendant asserted an oral . .
CitedGlobal Projects Management Ltd v Citigroup Inc and Others ChD 17-Oct-2005
GPM had acquired an internet domain name ‘’. Citigroup alleged passing off and trade mark infringement. The claimant complained of an unjustified threat. The defendant counterclaimed, and sought summary judgment.
Held: The . .
AppliedFuture Publishing Ltd v The Edge Interactive Media Inc and Others ChD 13-Jun-2011
The claimant said that the defendant had infriged its rights by the use of its logo on their publications. . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Intellectual Property, Company

Leading Case

Updated: 09 November 2021; Ref: scu.201414