Fayed v BBC

Reference: [2004] EWHC 109 (QB)

Court: Queen's Bench Division

Judge: Royce J

Date of judgment: 8 Jan 2004

Summary: Contract - TV programme - Prior approval - Interim Injunction

Appearances: Desmond Browne CBE KC - Leading Counsel (Defendant)  Jonathan Barnes KC (Defendant) 

Instructing Solicitors: BBC Litigation Department for the Defendant


The BBC made a programme for broadcast concerning the Mohammed Al Fayed’s tax arrangements with the inland revenue. The claimant agreed to contribute, on terms including that he could review the programme prior to broadcast. On his first review of the programme he took exception to it. The BBC refused to make certain alterations requested by him. The claimant applied for an injunction on the grounds of breach of contract.


(1) Whether the claimant had an arguable case that he had a degree of editorial control; (2) Whether an interim injunction would be granted.


The claimant did have an arguable case, to justify a temporary injunction for 3 weeks to allow for the parties to discuss the claimant’s concerns.


The case exemplifies the relative ease with which an injunction can be granted using the familiar American Cyanamid principles. Whatever the merits of the argument that the Claimant had an enforceable contract granting him prior approval of the content of the BBC programme, he had an arguable case and if an injunction was not granted the harm suffered by him would not easily be compensatable in damages.