Karim A. Youssef wins award for CBC against satirist Bassem Youssef

Youssef & Partners secured an EGP 100m award for the CBC Channel in arbitration against former TV satirist Bassem Youssef and Q-Soft in a dispute arising from the unlawful termination of a contract.

Karim A. Youssef wins award against satirist Bassem Youssef. In November 2014, Karim and his arbitration team won an EGP 100m award for the CBC television channel in a contractual dispute with Bassem Youssef and the production company, Q Soft. 

An article in GAR sets out the terms of the dispute:

The arbitration emerged from cross-claims QSoft filed against CBC, followed by parallel claims from the TV station in 2014, after QSoft terminated its contract with the channel in favour of a deal with Dubai’s Middle East Broadcasting Corporation (MBC).

Youssef, who is often described as the Egyptian Jon Stewart, terminated the contract a few weeks after CBC distanced itself from a controversial October 2013 episode of his popular satire show Al Bernameg [The Show], in which he satirised Egyptian politics.

Following the episode’s airing, CBC shelved the following episode of the show, claiming it had not abided by “the editorial policy of the network.”

Youssef moved to MBC, which broadcasted the planned season of shows in Egypt and across the Middle East until April 2014. MBC subsequently suspended the show in advance of the 2014 presidential election in Egypt, in which el-Sisi was elected.

Youssef announced the show’s termination that June, saying that he was “tired of struggling and worrying about my safety and that of my family.”

In the arbitration, an all-Egyptian tribunal consisting of arbitrators Reda Al-Sayed, Refaat Abdel Meguid, and Hani Sarie-El Din heard parallel claims brought by QSoft against CBC and by CBC against both Youssef and the production company.

CBC originally wanted specific performance of the contract binding Youssef to the channel but altered its claim after the satirist’s move to MBC was announced. At that point, the channel sought US$45 million in damages.

Youssef unsuccessfully argued that the tribunal lacked jurisdiction over him personally, on the grounds that he was not a party to the contract but merely its guarantor. The tribunal disagreed, finding in its 2014 award that the comedian was both a party and signatory to the contract, and had unlawfully terminated it.

It was that decision that the Cairo Court of Appeal found had lacked evidence for their damages award.

CBC’s counsel for the arbitration Karim A Youssef partner and head of Middle East arbitration at Amereller Legal Consultants in Cairo and Dubai – who is no relation to the satirist – told GAR at the time of the award that the “explosion” of satellite TV stations following the Arab Spring has led to increased demand for arbitration to settle contractual disputes.

“TV hosts moving from one channel to another, after major investments were made by the original TV channel, raises significant issues of ownership of production and broadcasting rights,” he said. Although he was counsel to CBC in the arbitration, Youssef was not involved in the annulment proceedings.

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