• It was held in Hurst v Picture Theatres Ltd [1915] by the Court of Appeal that a contractual licence is unable to be revoked. It was also held that a contractual licence remains enforceable following a breach.

Facts of the Case

  • C bought a ticket to the theatre.
  • D, the theatre, believed that C had not paid for the ticket, and consequently removed him.
  • C sued D, alleging that D had committed a trespass to the person.
  • D argued that despite the revocation of the licence was a breach of contract, when the theatre removed C, the licence was revoked and therefore D was entitled to remove C.

Issues in Hurst v Picture Theatres Ltd [1915] 1 KB 1

  • The issue that the courts had to decide, for our purposes, was whether the contractual licence could be revoked, notwithstanding it would be a breach of contract. They had to decide this in the context of whether there was a justification for the tort they committed in removing him.

The Court of Appeal Held

  • The CA held that a contractual licence cannot be revoked, unlike a bare licence. Also, they held the defendant theatre company liable for the trespass to the person tort and determined that damages should be payable to C.

Buckley L.J.

  • [5] “It affirmed also that if there be a licence coupled with an interest or coupled with a grant, it is not, or at any rate in general is not, revocable.”
  • [6] “I read these two sentences from the case of Wood v Leadbilter: ” A mere licence revocable; but that which is called a licence is often something more than a licence; it often comprises or is connected with a grant, and then the party who has given it cannot in general revoke it, so as to defeat his grant, to which it was incident.”
  • [11] “Failing on that question of fact, they say that they were entitled to remove him because his licence was revocable. In my opinion, it was not. There was, I think, no justification for the assault here committed… I think that the appeal which has been brought before us, and which is founded simply upon the question of law which I have discussed at the beginning of this judgment, fails and must be dismissed with costs.