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Alexander v Mercouris

410 words (2 pages) Case Summary

11th Jan 2024 Case Summary Reference this In-house law team

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Alexander v Mercouris [1979] QB 441

A case examining the liability of parties under contract law, particularly in the realm of services that have been promised but subsequently not rendered.

Also known as: Alexander Mercouris


Mr. Mercouris invited Ms. Alexander, a professional opera singer, to perform at a series of concerts in Greece. A written contract was not concluded, but an oral contract was agreed. The agreement included living accommodations, transportation, and a performing fee for Ms. Alexander. However, due to various reasons largely attributed to Mr. Mercouris, the concerts were cancelled prior to Ms. Alexander’s arrival in Greece. Consequently, she sought damages for the earnings she would have made from the cancelled concerts and her wasted expenses. In response, Mr. Mercouris argued that she had not suffered any loss.


The principle legal issue in this case was whether Mr. Mercouris was liable to pay damages to Ms. Alexander for the cancelled concerts, despite there being no written contract.


The Court of Appeal held Mr. Mercouris liable under contract law. They determined that the defendant's cancellation of the concerts resulted in a breach of contract. As such, the claimant was entitled to damages equal to the earnings she would have made from the concerts, less any savings. The court reasoned that Ms. Alexander had the reasonable expectation of performing the concerts and earning a fee. Therefore, their cancellation deprived her of an opportunity to earn income, causing her actual monetary loss. This decision affirmed the conclusion of the trial judge, who found in favour of the claimant, awarding her £5,000 in damages.

In their reasoning, the Court of Appeal referred to the foundational principle of expectation interest, as embodied in Contract Law, which aims to put the innocent party, as far as money can do, in the same position they would have been in had the contract been performed. The Court referred to the well-established principle from the case Addis v Gramophone Co Ltd [1909] AC 488, which provided the basis for the assessment of damages.


  1. Addis v Gramophone Co Ltd [1909] AC 488.
  2. Alexander v Mercouris [1979] QB 441.

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