Victoria Park Racing & Recreation Grounds Co Ltd v Taylor (1937) 58 CLR 479

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  • Victoria Park Racing (VPRowned Victoria Park, a racing track which charged admissions to people who placed bets on the races.  This racecourse was surrounded by a very high fence.
  • Mr Taylor set up a platform in his property and charged people a certain amount to view the Victoria Park races from it.
  • Attendance at the ground dropped significantly.
  • VPR sued for trespass.


  • Are there property rights in a spectacle?


  • There can be no property rights in a spectacle.
  • Any profit made from a premise is made so by charging entrance to an area.
  • A person should not have to divert their eyes from something as you walk past; there was little difference in this case.
  • The plaintiff could complain that the actions diminish their profits. However, this is little different to Taylor setting up a racecourse next door.


“I find difficulty in attaching any precise meaning to the phrase “property in a spectacle.” A “spectacle” cannot be “owned” in any ordinary sense of that word. Even if there were any legal principle which prevented one person from gaining an advantage for himself or causing damage to another by describing a spectacle produced by that other person, the rights of the latter person could be described as property only in a metaphorical sense. Any appropriateness in the metaphor would depend upon the existence of the legal principle. The principle cannot itself be based upon such a metaphor.”

(Latham CJ at page 497)

“If English law had followed the course of development that has recently taken place in the United States, the “broadcasting rights” in respect of the races might have been protected as part of the quasi-property created by the enterprise, organization and labour of the plaintiff in establishing and equipping a racecourse and doing all that is necessary to conduct race meetings. But courts of equity have not in British jurisdictions thrown the protection of an injunction around all the intangible elements of value, that is, value in exchange, which may flow from the exercise by an individual of his powers or resources whether in the organization of a business or undertaking or the use of ingenuity, knowledge, skill or labour. This is sufficiently evidenced by the history of the law of copyright and by the fact that the exclusive right to invention, trade marks, designs, trade name and reputation are dealt with in English law as special heads of protected interests and not under a wide generalisation.”

(Dixon J at pages 508-509)

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