Litigation Recent Decisions 7/4/98

Assignment of non-assignable chose in action

Don King Productions v (1) Frank John Warren (2) Christopher Nigel Roberts (3) Centurion Promotions (formerly Sports Network) (4) Sports Network USA (5) Time Warner Entertainment Co LP (1998)

ChD (Lightman J) 27/3/98

Summary: Whether agreement to assign contracts was effective in law or equity where such contracts involved the rendering of personal services or included express provisions prohibiting any assignment of such contracts.

This trial dealt with preliminary issues of principle in an action which was, in substance, between two boxing promoters, but in form between the corporate vehicle of one of the promoters, Mr King, and the other promoter, Mr Warren, his associate, Mr Roberts (who controlled the third and fourth defendant companies) and the fifth defendant television company and broadcaster (TWE) which had become involved in the dispute. The disputes arose from the entry of Mr King and Mr Warner into two successive partnership agreements. The questions before the court were (1) the construction of the two agreements and (2) what was the effect in law of a purported assignment of (or agreement to assign) a non-assignable chose in action, and of an agreement to hold such a chose in action for the benefit of another.

The main item in dispute was the entitlement to promotion, management and associated (PM&A) agreements entered into at various stages.