Kemble v. Farren – Case Brief

Essential Supplements for Success in 1L Contracts:

1L Law School Contracts outline based on the following books:

Kemble (Theater) v Farren (Comedian)

Court of Common Pleas

6 Bing. 141, 130 Eng. Rep. 1234 [1829]

pg 163


Theater K with Comedian to perform shows for four seasons

Stipulation that if either party neglect or refuse the agreement or any part then they pay £1000

In second season comedian refused to act

P argues liquidated damages

D argues it is a penalty clause

Procedural history

Theater was awarded £750 but appealed for the £1000

– if the court had thrown out the damages clause they would have had to calculate a diferent way, expectation etc

– £750 was base on the LDC £1000/4 times 3 remaining seasons of the show


“penalties” are unenforceable (can the damages be easily calculated? is the clause too broad, any minute breach?

“liquidated damages” enforceable


Found that because the £1000 stipulation was for any minute breach that it was a penalty and unenforceable

Stuck with £750 award

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