Horse racing

ARC and TRP claim Court of Appeal victory in SIS data case

3 minutes read
The Racing Partnership (TRP) and Arena Racing Company (ARC) have claimed victory in legal proceedings brought against Sports Information Services (SIS), after the UK Court of Appeals ruled the provider was liable for an unlawful means conspiracy.

However SIS pointed out that the ruling absolved the business of any fraudulent content, and noted that it made no decision on damages in the case.

The Appeals Court ruled that SIS breached the terms and conditions of betting exchanges by creating prices using the platforms. 

The Court also ruled the Tote’s provision of data to SIS for a fixed-odds betting service – as opposed to a legitimate use for pool betting – meant that the Tote committed the unlawful act of trespass, during the period the fixed-odds service was available.

However, the Court found in favour of SIS over claims related to the confidentiality of key Raceday Day Data triggers, saying SIS did not, and could not reasonably be expected to, know about this.

TRP filed its claim with the UK Court of Appeal in the wake of a May 2019 High Court ruling. This stated that SIS and the Tote breached duties of confidence by unlawfully taking, supplying and commercially exploiting racing date from a from a number of the ARC’s UK racecourses without full permission.

However, that ruling stated that SIS had not committed an unlawful means conspiracy, something overturned by the Court of Appeal.

Unlawful means conspiracy refers to claims where one party is aware that it was doing something unlawful, and can apply to cases such as breach of contract, copyright infringement and contempt of court.

“No doubt the lawyers will work on the exact ramifications of a complex set of judgments but the key fact is that the Court of Appeal has found SIS liable for unlawful means conspiracy and significant damages flow,” ARC chairman David Thorpe said.

TRP was set up to exclusively license media rights from horse race meetings at ARC and other independent racecourses, direct to retail bookmakers and other betting operators.

In the original hearing, it was stated that operators such as William Hill, Paddy Power and numerous independent operators contracted directly with TRP to receive a rights package. This included live data and audio-visual coverage for fixtures from Doncaster, Lingfield Park, Southwell, Royal Windsor, Wolverhampton and Worcester from the start of 2017.

However, it transpired that the retail estates of Ladbrokes, Coral and Betfred did not contract with TRP to secure the supply of live data and TV coverage from the racecourses.

The bookmakers compiled data from other sources to create an unofficial service from the Tote’s presence on-course and other sources through SIS, without any payment to TRP.

In response, TRP launched High Court proceedings against SIS in January 2017.

Speaking to iGB, SIS described the ruling as a “complex judgement” and that it would take some time to study the content in detail.

“The appeal hearing reviewed only the findings of liability and made no ruling in relation to damages,” SIS said. “We note that SIS and its witnesses remain vindicated with regards to any allegation of fraudulent and/or dishonest conduct.

At all times we have maintained a robust legal defence to the claims and will continue to do so.”

SIS also noted that it was pleased the Court of Appeal found in its favour and upheld an appeal in relation to breach of confidentiality. This reversed the original judgement in the case.