Greig v Insole [1978] 1WLR 302

Change of rules on edibility for test match cricket in restraint of trade


A private sports promoter entered into contracts with leading cricketers for a series of test matches. The international cricketing governing body (ICC) passed a resolution to the effect that any player who should play in a match disapproved by the ICC would thereafter be disqualified from playing in a test match without the express consent of the ICC. It passed another resolution banning any match arranged by the private sports promoter.


Three cricketers sought a declaration that the changes of the rules by the ICC were ultra vires and an unlawful restraint of trade. They claimed that the changes in the rules were void as denying them the freedom to practice their profession how they wished. The promoter also sought a declaration that the ICC had unlawfully induced the players to break their contracts with it. The defendants (including the ICC) contented, inter alia, that the contracts with the promoter were void and/or that as they were “employers’ associations’ they were exempt from being sued in tort under the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act 1974.


The Court held that the contracts with the promoter were neither void nor voidable. Since they were enforceable, and since the actions of the defendants were clearly intended to apply pressure to the contracting players, the defendants had acted, albeit in good faith, without justification and in breach of contract. The defendants had not acted reasonably in imposing a bar which was prima facie in restraint of trade. Furthermore, the ICC was not exempt under the 1974 Act because, under its constitution, its members were regarded as being the member counties as opposed to the cricketing governing body.