Equitable remedies are available to compel a licensor to honour a contractual licence

The equitable remedies of specific performance and injunction are available to compel a contractual licensor to honour his bargain, whether or not the licensee is yet in possession.

Verrall v Great Yarmouth Borough Council ([1981] QB 202, CA (Eng)) concerned a licence that the council had granted to the National Front to allow the latter to hold its annual conference in council-owned premises. Before the conference began, the council revoked the licence. The National Front sought specific performance of the licence. This was awarded. The important message from this case is that in appropriate circumstances equity will award specific performance or injunction to compel a contractual licensor to honour its bargain.

Damages would not be an adequate remedy. The National Front would not be able to find an alternative venue for its conference anywhere in England or Wales. Freedom of speech was at stake. The National Front was entitled to the freedoms of speech and of assembly provided they were exercised peaceably. In general, specific performance would be appropriate if a licensor sought to revoke a license in circumstances where many people would be affected and the revocation would have important consequences.


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