David Mensah (T/A 37 Days 3 Hours 9 Minutes) v Jeremy Darroch & 8 Ors (2014)
A claim brought against broadcasting entities that a television show they had launched had been developed using a business proposal submitted to them by the claimant was struck out in its entirety where the claimant had failed to adduce any material facts on which allegations of dishonesty and conspiracy might be based. Accordingly, the claim had no real prospect of success.
The defendants (D), broadcasting companies and individuals, applied for the striking out of a claim brought against them by the claimant (M) for fraudulent misrepresentation and deceit, breach of fiduciary duty and breach of confidence.
M had approached D in 2011 with two commercial business proposals for television shows entitled "Duets" and "Seven". The former was described as a singing and dating game show and the latter as a luck-based game show. D declined to take the proposals further. M claimed that D had combined the two proposals and fraudulently misrepresented themselves as their originators by launching a show known as "Sing Date". M further alleged that he had approached other broadcasting companies with the proposals but that they had been rejected on the ground of similarity to Sing Date. The claim for breach of fiduciary duty was based on an alleged failure by one of D's chief executive officers to investigate the pleaded misconduct. According to M, the individual and corporate defendants had links with one another and had conspired to injure him. D adduced evidence that Sing Date had been in the course of development since 2009 and submitted that the only element it had in common with Duets was that both involved singing and dating, which could not be protected in law. After issuing the claim form, M made applications for a data forensic expert to verify D's emails and for access to their servers.
M's pleaded case lacked the material facts on which serious allegations of dishonesty and conspiracy might be based. The essential element of his case seemed to be that Sing Date so closely resembled Duet and Seven that the court should infer from that fact alone that those who developed Sing Date used information provided by M. However, M had made no serious attempt to set out the alleged similarities; in fact, the terms in which he described Seven contradicted any similarity with Sing Date. There was no case which M could plead which would have a real prospect of success; therefore, his claim had to be struck out in its entirety. Since M had been given unanswerable evidence that there was no foundation for his speculative claims, and since he persisted in pursuing serious allegations of dishonesty, it was appropriate to make a civil restraint order for a period of two years (see paras 44-45, 54, 59 of judgment).