Totally embarrassed to have taken his eye off the ball, the IPKat realises that he hasn't said a single word about Proactive Sports Management Ltd v Wayne Rooney, Coleen Rooney, Stoneygate 48 Ltd and Speed 9849 Ltd -- a Queen's Bench Division for England and Wales decision of Judge Hegarty QC  EWHC 1807 (QB) dating back to 15 July. This was an action to recover arrears of commission which Proactive claimed from Stoneygate under an image rights representation agreement. Proactive struck a deal with English soccer star and Shrek lookalike Wayne Rooney under which it was to be his agent for both on-field and off-field activities for eight years. Since Rooney had, even in his tender years, already assigned his image rights to Stoneygate (which was acting on Rooney's behalf in negotiating sponsorship deals), a new image rights representation agreement was to be struck under which Proactive would act on behalf of Stoneygate as a sort of agent's agent for the purposes of exploiting those rights. This agreement, which was also said to be for eight years, provided that Proactive would receive 20% commission on Rooney's relevant image income. The earlier agreement between Proactive and Rooney was varied so that, in future, it would only cover on-field representation.
Judge Hegarty QC gave judgment in part to Proactive -- but he was not nearly as generous to the company as it had hoped. In his view:
* the image rights agreement was not void for mistake, since no such vitiating mistake had affected the minds of the parties at the time that agreement was made;* the image rights agreement did however impose significant restrictions on Wayne Rooney's freedom to exploit his talents in any way he might wish: he could not, without Proactive's prior consent, negotiate or enter into contracts with any other firms or agents or representatives or persons or any other businesses which might reasonably be regarded as Proactive's competitors and who might wish to exploit his IP rights. What's more, those exclusive obligations were entered into when Rooney had only recently turned 17 and were to last for eight long years during which Proactive was entitled to 20% on all the income-producing opportunities it gave Stoneygate and Rooney -- this being a flat rate with no mechanism for limiting or reducing the rate in the light of total income received.* the terms of the agreement were effectively dictated by Proactive and there was no meaningful negotiation on the other side: Wayne and the rest of the Rooney family had no commercial experience and had no independent legal advice;* taking all this into account, the agreement was unenforceable as being in unreasonable restraint of trade.* Proactive was still entitled to a restitutionary remedy in respect of those services which it had provided to Stoneygate for which it had not yet received payment.