Butters v Clarkson

Reference: 21/05/2003

Date of judgment: 21 May 2003

Summary: Media law - Publishing - Contract - Uncertainty



Jeremy Clarkson made a publishing agreement with old school friend Peter Butters. The two fell out over this, and Butters sued Clarkson alleging breach of the agreement.


Whether the parties could mediate a settlement.


The case was mediated to a satisfactory conclusion.


This was a case where strong feelings were aroused, but it was nonetheless possible to settle at the end of a long day with a CEDR mediator. One interesting issue that arose concerned the enforceability of the obligation Clarkson undertook, to use his best endeavours to assist in the negotiation of a publishing agreement with a third party. Was this an unenforceable ‘duty to negotiate in good faith’, or was it a ‘best endeavours’ provision which the courts would enforce?