Friday, 6 November 2009

SAMRO v Gilfillan and the "tyranny of litigation"

Literally hot off the press, here's the judgment of the High Court of South Africa (North Gauteng Provincial Division) of 4 November in South African Music Rights Organisation Ltd (SAMRO) v Graeme Gilfillan, the Brenda Fassie case (see earlier posts here, here and here on Afro-IP for some SAMRO background and history).

In short, this was an attempt by SAMRO to obtain a full or interim interdict to stop its outspoken critic Graeme Gilfillan "publishing any defamatory and/or derogatory statements ... and/or from publishing injurious falsehoods" about it pending the arbitration of David Feldman N.O. v SAMRO, a now well-publicised dispute relating to Feldman's attempts to secure accounts in relation to copyright royalties owed to Brenda Fassie's estate.

Dismissing the application for an interdict, the court reviewed the evidence, the submissions and the conduct of the dispute to date, and concluded:
"The applicant has failed to establish a prima facie right to interdict the respondent from publishing a statement of which the contents are unknown in the future".
Then, citing with approval the words of Mhlantla AJA in National Council of Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals v Openshaw 2008 (5) SA 399 (SCA), the court added:
"There is such a thing as the tyranny of litigation, and a Court of law should not allow a party to drag out proceedings unduly".
You can read or download pages 1 to 10 of the judgment of Pretorius J here and pages 11 to 19 here. Afro Leo looks forward to hearing more news about this action.

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