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   Case summaries      Warner Bros v Nelson


Warner Bros v Nelson [1937] 1 KB 209

By contract, the defendant actress Bette Davis, agreed to act exclusively for Warner Bros for two years. The contract stipulated not only that could she not act for another but also she could take no employment of any kind. Bette Davis then moved to England and in breach of contract entered an agreement to act for another. Warner Bros sought an injunction to prevent her from doing so.


An injunction was granted but only in so far as it prevented Bette Davis from acting or performing for another. The term relating to no employment of any kind was severed and did not form part of the injunction.

Branson J:


“The case before me is therefore one in which it would be proper to grant an injunction unless to do so would in the circumstances be tantamount to ordering the defendant to perform her contract or remain idle or unless damages would be the more appropriate remedy. With regard to the first of these considerations, it would, of course, be impossible to grant an injunction covering all the negative covenants in the contract. That would, indeed, force the defendant to perform her contract or remain idle; but this objection is removed by the restricted form in which the injunction is sought. It is confined to forbidding the defendant, without the consent of the plaintiffs, to render any services for or in any motion picture or stage production for anyone other than the plaintiffs.”



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