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JT Stratford & Son Ltd v Lindley [1965] AC 269

Tort - Trade Dispute - Procuring breach of contract - Threat to break contract - Intimidation

Facts:

The respondents were the officers of a trade union and sought to unsuccessfully negotiate an agreement on behalf of their members with the appellant and the transport union. The appellant reached an agreement with the transport union without consulting the watermen's union. Upon discovery, the watermen’s union confirmed that until further notice, they would not man or service empty barges owned by the appellants. As a result of the embargo, the appellant's' business was brought to a standstill. The appellants were granted an interlocutory injunction which was later discharged.

Issues:

On appeal, whether the respondent’s conduct was deemed tortious interference and likely to occur again. Whether there was a breach of duty by union officials under the Trade Disputes Act 1906 (the Act), ss 1, 3 or 5.

Held:

The court found that the respondents had not established a case within the definition under s 5(3) of the Act and consequently, they could not come within the ambit of ss 1 and 3 of the Act. The Act in this instance, offered them no protection. The case of Lumley v Gye (1853) 2 E & B 216 was applied in that where there is a demonstration of a person knowingly inducing breaches of contract, they are found to be liable in tort for interference. The respondents had knowingly induced breaches of their members’ employment contracts without lawful justification. Further, as it suggested that the respondents intended to repeat such conduct, the conduct was tortious. The judge was correct in granting an interlocutory injunction to preserve to prevent further interference by the respondents with contracts which the appellants which they may have made in the future.


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