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Philip Collins V. Davis Notes

BCL Law Notes > Restitution of Unjust Enrichment BCL Notes

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PHILIP COLLINS V. DAVIS FACTS The claimant company, Philip Collins Ltd, is and has at all material times been entitled to the services of the well-known popular musician, Mr Phil Collins. The defendants, Mr Rahmlee Davis and Mr Louis Satterfield, are professional musicians who accompanied Mr Collins on a highly successful world tour in 1990. The defendants, with two others, formed the horn section of the group, which consisted of 13 musicians in all. It was contemplated by the claimant that on completion of the tour an album would be released containing recordings of live performances taking place during the tour, and by their contracts of engagement for the tour each of the musicians (including the defendants) granted the claimant the right to exploit such recordings. The musicians' contracts of engagement also included an entitlement to royalties on such recordings. In the event, recordings were made of a number of live performances during the tour, and in November 1990 (the tour having ended the previous month) 15 of such recordings were released as an album under the title 'Serious Hits Live'. I will refer to this album hereinafter as 'the live album'. The horn section (including the defendants) performed on only 5 of those 15 tracks; the remaining musicians performed on all 15 tracks. Throughout the period of more than six years from the release of the album in November 1990 until March 1997 the claimant accounted to the defendants for royalties on the live album without applying any discount or deduction to reflect the fact that the defendants had performed on only 5 out of the 15 tracks. However, by letters dated 26 March 1997 from its chief accountant the claimant informed the defendants that royalties had been mistakenly paid to them in respect of tracks on which they had not performed, and that in consequence they had been overpaid by a total of $US345,151*4323 in respect of worldwide sales of the live album outside the United Kingdom. In contesting this claim, the defendants inter alia relies on the defence of change of position arguing that they had spent the relevant mistaken payment made to them so that they can no longer be recovered. HOLDING Estoppel The defendants' case on this issue is that the mere making of each royalty payment represented that the payment was due; that the defendants relied on such representations to their detriment; and accordingly that the claimant is estopped from seeking repayment.

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