Ryan v Mutual Tontine Westminster Chambers [1893] 1 Ch 116

Contract law – Employment contract – Services


This case involved a residential flat, in which the flats were leased to several tenants. The leases contained a covenant that agreed that the premises were let subject to the regulations made by the owners in relation to the resident porter. The regulations provided that the block should be in charge of a resident porter who would act as a servant to those in the blocks and was in constant attendance by himself or an assistant on a temporary basis. The owners appointed a cook to this role who employed others to perform his duties whilst he worked at a local restaurant. The owner brought an action on the basis that the lessee had breached the covenant in the agreement between the parties. The trial judge found that an injunction could be granted to prevent the further breach of the contract by the lessee. This decision was appealed.


The court was required to consider whether the grant of an injunction to prevent the cook from further breaching the agreement could be appropriate. It was also submitted by the owner that if this could not be granted then specific performance might be appropriate in the circumstances.


Having considered the wording of the agreement between the parties and the facts, the court could not grant an injunction to prevent the cook from continuing the breach, or order specific performance for him to carry this out. On this basis, the court allowed the appeal from the lessee and reversed the earlier decision of the trial judge.