After a two-year legal battle, the Paris High Court dismissed the claims of show organiser Reed Exhibitions in its final ruling yesterday; Reed says it will appeal

The Paris High Court (Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris) has issued a ruling in favour of the French boat industry federation (FIN) in its case against UK-based Reed Exhibitions concerning control of the Cannes Yachting Festival.

As owner of the Paris and Cannes boat shows, FIN had previously contracted with Reed to organise both shows since 1998 but terminated the contract in October 2016.

In terminating the contract, FIN sought relief from a clause in the contract allowing Reed to continue operating the Cannes Yachting Festival until 2041 in the event of cancellation for any reason. Reed countered by seeking forced application of the contract clause by the courts in November 2016, and the ensuing legal battle for control of one of the industry’s most significant shows has continued since then.

In the decision issued 8 January 2019, the court ruled the key clause under dispute in the contract between the FIN and Reed was null and void and declared the contract terminated with effect from December 20, 2016. According to a statement by FIN, the Court has also expressly forbidden Reed from “presenting itself, to any parties whatsoever, as the Yachting Festival’s organizer”.

”This is a magnificent victory for the French boat industry today,” stated Yves Lyon-Caen, chairman of the FIN which represents more than 5,000 companies active in France’s boating industry. “We always had every confidence that the courts would reestablish the truth. In a few days,” he continued, “I will be assembling the FIN’s Board of Directors to assess all the consequences of this ruling, because the stakes involved are significant for the immediate future of our companies.”

In response to the ruling, Michel Vilair, managing director of Reed Expositions France told IBI, “This is absolutely not the end of the story. Nothing in the judgement rendered by the High Court of Paris is enforceable.  On the basis of our analysis,” he continued, “we will appeal as we have good legal reasons to do so.” 

Vilair estimated the appeals process could take between 12 and 18 months, ”so until another judgement is rendered, we will continue to manage the Cannes show in 2019.” He also indicated Reed would be issuing a statement to its Cannes exhibitors today.