Friday, 25 November 2011

Reggae Reggae Litigation: The High Court Verdict

Earlier this month, in my previous article about recipes and plagiarism, I commented on the High Court litigation brought by Tony Bailey against Keith Valentine Graham (better known as Levi Roots). 

I've just received notification from a lovely student of mine who has been observing the whole trial that Bailey's claim has been rejected by the court. Many thanks to her for her prompt report - (you know who you are!)

It would appear that during the course of the hearing, which has lasted two whole weeks plus, there has been much name-calling and muck-raking. 

Levi had claimed on Dragon's Den that the sauce recipe came from his 'grandma'. He has since, in the High Court trial admitted that was incorrect, and was part of a marketing ploy to make the product attractive. It appears that we are all suckers for the idea that a particular recipe or formula has been lovingly passed on from one generation to another. I wonder how many other products and recipes are similarly presented as being from granny, but end up being a lot more modern? 

Anyway, the result is that Tony Bailey's claim for a proportion of the profits of Reggae Reggae Sauce has been dismissed. Bailey as the loser of the case will now have to pay Levi Root's legal costs. 

These costs have been awarded on the 'indemnity' basis - which means that pretty much all of Levi's costs, even those not directly linked to steps in the litigation - will have to be paid by Bailey. Unless Bailey has taken out after-the-event insurance to cover the risk of losing at trial, could be so high as to financially cripple him or render him bankrupt. High Court costs for the solicitor alone start at £300 per hour.

But is this a total vindication of Levi Roots? No. The High Court Judge when delivering judgment stated that he did not believe either Roots' nor Bailey's stories. He informed the parties that his judgement had to be based solely on the evidence which was corroborated (in other words confirmed by) other witnesses. 

The chances are even this criticism will not do Roots much harm. The story will most likely hit the evening news tonight, and will fuel curiosity as to the product which led to so much bad blood and dispute. 

But will I be cracking open the Reggae Reggae Sauce? Probably not. It isn't like Granny used to make, is it?


  1. levi roots stole the sauce from tony bailey

    1. Dear Damien,

      It is possible that you are right. But Tony Bailey had to prove his case on the balance of probabilities. In other words that it was 51%+ more likely he was telling the truth than Levi Roots. He could not do so, which is why he lost.

      Levi Roots' evidence was that his product bears little or no resemblance to the sauce made when he was working with Bailey.

      I didn't hear the evidence, so can't comment. But Roots has won at the High Court and Court of Appeal. So that's really the end of it.

      Thanks for reading and for commenting!