SJ Berwin leads William Hill to racing database landmark

SJ Berwin has succeeded where Allen & Overy did not and won a landmark case on database rights before the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

Bookmaker William Hill sidelined Allen & Overy after losing its case against the British Horseracing Board (BHB) in the Court of Appeal.

It is the first time the ECJ has passed judgment on a case under the new European Database Directive.

The case will now return to the Court of Appeal, which will consider the ECJ’s guidance.

The case revolves around the BHB’s database rights – worth up to £100m a year – and William Hill’s right to publish data from the database. It was heard in parallel with Finnish, Greek and Swedish cases concerning football fixtures.

The ECJ has overturned the Advocate General’s opinion, the arguments of the European Commission and the English High Court.

Addleshaw Goddard IP partner Hamish Porter, who represented the BHB, told The Lawyer that the court had got it wrong.

“The ECJ has gone one step further than it is empowered to do by applying the law to the facts of the case,” he said.

“We have looked at the way it has reasoned the case and it has misunderstood what the BHB database consists of.”

Porter instructed Peter Prescott QC and Lindsay Lane of 8 New Square for the BHB.

SJ Berwin’s head of competition Stephen Kon, Tom Usher (now of Dundas & Wilson) and Sarah Turnbull advised William Hill together with Mark Platts-Mills QC and James Abrahams of 8 New Square.

Allen & Overy declined to comment.