Court sides with RDA in rugby rights ruling
March 3, 2022
Level has successfully defended RDA Television’s (RDA) right to terminate its Media Rights Agreement with European Professional Club Rugby (ECPR).
EPCR is the organiser of the European Rugby Champions Cup and the European Rugby Challenge Cup. RDA had originally signed an agreement with EPCR on May 11th 2018 to cover the next four seasons, until the completion of the 2021/22 season.
On June 5th 2020, RDA Television (RDA) terminated its Media Rights Agreement with European Professional Club Rugby (ECPR), citing the Covid-19 epidemic as a force majeure event.
EPCR claimed it had suffered £8 million in damages as a result of the contract termination. However, the High Court accepted RDA’s contractual right to terminate and dismissed EPCR’s claim in its entirety. The Court also upheld RDA’s counterclaim in full and ordered the majority of its legal costs be paid by EPCR on an indemnity basis.
Dan Harrington of Level said: “Covid-19 presented many difficult issues for buyers and sellers of sports rights. For long periods of time during 2020, live sport was not able to take place and so buyers of sports broadcast rights turned to their contracts to see whether remedies were available to address the fact that the content they had paid for was not being delivered. This is one of the first major sports rights disputes since the pandemic to tackle the interpretation of force majeure clauses and we are pleased that the judgment has confirmed the advice we gave our client.”
Commenting on the ruling, Richard Dennis, CEO at RDA, said: “We were disappointed that EPCR chose to pursue legal proceedings against us, rather than work together to minimise the risks that the pandemic posed. However, I’m delighted with the outcome and am grateful for the support and advice from my legal team throughout this process.”
Tim Lowles, Partner at Level, added: “All rights holders in the sports industry faced unprecedented challenges as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. This judgment is a complete vindication of RDA’s rights and the difficult decision it was forced to make when terminating its Media Rights Agreement.”