Employment - 1900- 1929

Employment Law. All matters relating to contracts between individuals and trade unions and employers, and procedural issues in the Industrial Tribunals system. See also Sex Discrimination and Race Relations Law, Health and Safety, and European Law.

These cases are extracted from a very large database. The entries on that database are now being published individually to the main swarb.co.uk website in a much improved form. As cases are published here, the entry here will be replaced by a link to the same case in that improved form on swarb.co.uk. In addition the swarb.co.uk site includes very substantial numbers of cases after 2000. Please take the time to look.  

This page lists 24 cases, and was prepared on 19 May 2014. These case are being transferred one by one to the main swarb.co.uk site which presents them better, with links to full text where we have it, and much improved cross referencing.
Inman -v- Ackroyd [1901] 1 QB 613

Employment Casemap
1 Citers
Apportionment Act 1870
Dowden & Pook Ltd -v- Pook [1904] 1 KB 45
Collins MR
Employment Casemap

When an employment covenant is unlimited, the covenant cannot be rewritten to limit its territorial extent.
Edmundson -v- Render [1905] 2 Ch 320

Buckley J
Employment, Legal Professions Casemap

The court considered a suggestion that a solicitor was not in breach of a non-compete clause promising to refrain from practising within a certain area where the work was carried out from an office outside the area: "The other [class of case] which I think would be equally a breach, is as follows. Suppose a client residing within the prohibited area comes to Harrogate to consult the solicitor, and the solicitor, after taking time to consider the matter, advises him by letter sent to him at his address within the prohibited area, is he acting as solicitor within the area? In my opinion he is. It does not matter whether he goes in person to the man 's house and says 'I advise you' so and so, or whether he writes him a letter and says, 'I advise you' so and so."
Earl -v- Lubbock [1905] 1 KB 253
Sir Richard Henn Collins MR, Stirling LJ, Mathew LJ
Negligence, Employment Casemap

1 Citers
The plaintiff was injured when a wheel came off a van which he was driving for his employer, and which it was the duty of the defendant, under contract with the employer, to keep in repair. The county court judge and the Divisional Court both hold that, even if negligence was proved, the action would not lie. Held: The defendant was under no duty to the plaintiff and that there was no cause of action. Matthew LJ: "The argument of counsel for the plaintiff was that the defendant's servants had been negligent in the performance of the contract with the owners of the van, and that it followed as a, matter of law that anyone in their employment, or, indeed, anyone else who sustained an injury traceable to that negligence, had a cause of action against the defendant. It is impossible to accept such a wide proposition, and, indeed, it is difficult to see how, if it were the law, trade could be carried on. No prudent man would contract to make or repair what the employer intended to permit others to use in the way of his trade."
Ellis -v- Joseph Ellis & Co; CA 1905
Clouston and Company Limited -v- Corry [1905] UKPC 70; [1906] AC 122
1 Dec 1905
Commonwealth, Employment Casemap
1 Citers
(New Zealand)
[ Bailii ]
Devonald -v- Rosser [1906] 2 KB 728

Employment Casemap

An employer's failure to provide a reasonable amount of work, barring force majeure, is a breach of the contract of employment.
General Billposting Company Limited -v- Atkinson; HL 1908
Tomalin -v- S Pearson and Son Ltd [1909] 2 KB 61
Cozens-Hardy MR, Farwell LJ
Employment Casemap
1 Citers
A widow claimed compensation for her husband's death overseas. Held: The Act did not provide for compensation to be payable. "What is the widow's claim here ? She is claiming, not as a party to the contract, not as claiming any rights under a contract made by her or by any person through whom she claims, but she is simply claiming the performance by the defendants of a statutory duty, which statutory duty is said to be found in the Workmen's Compensation Act. Now that brings us face to face with this proposition. What is the ambit of the statute and what is the scope of its operation ? It seems to me reasonably plain that this is a case to which the presumption which is referred to in Maxwell on the Interpretation of Statutes in the passage at p. 213 . . must apply: "In the absence of an intention clearly expressed or to be inferred from its language, or from the object or subject-matter or history of the enactment, the presumption is that Parliament does not design its statutes to operate beyond the territorial limits of the United Kingdom." and (Farwell LJ) "The question is one purely of the construction of the statute. The words of s.1, sub-s 1, are so wide that some limitation must necessarily be affixed to them. The words are, "If in any employment personal injury by accident arising out of and in the course of the employment is caused to any workman," and so on. To my mind the words "any employment" there must be restricted to employment within the ambit of the United Kingdom or on the high seas as provided by s.7."
Workmen's Compensation Act 1906 7
Addis -v- Gramophone Company Limited; HL 26-Jul-1909
Kirkby -v- Taylor; 1910
Steggall -v- Lymburner (1912) 14 WALR 201

McMillan J
Employment, Contract
The defendant deducted from the wages of an employee, either at his request or by his consent, the amount of a debt due by the employee to the plaintiffs, and promised the plaintiffs to pay the amount to them. Held: "The contention on the part of the defendant before the magistrate was that his promise to pay was a promise to pay a debt of another person and, therefore, was not actionable, as there was no evidence in writing. In answer to that it is said that the Statute of Frauds has nothing to do with the case, and that the promise of the defendant is not to discharge the debt of another person, but a promise to pay his own debt. In Leake on Contracts, 5th edition, p.839, it is stated 'the contract or promise of the debtor to pay according to the order or assignment of his creditor is a promise to pay his own debt, although it operates in discharge of the debt of his creditor. It is, therefore, not a promise to pay the debt of another within the Statute of Frauds, and does not require written evidence.'" Burnside J agreed, describing it as "a very simple case".
Re National Insurance Act 1911: Re Employment of Church of England Curates; 1912
Vacher & Sons Ltd -v- London Society of Compositors; HL 18-Nov-1912
Mason -v- Provident Clothing & Supply Co Ltd; 1913
Amber Size and Chemical Co Ltd -v- Menzel [1913] 2 Ch 239

Intellectual Property, Employment
1 Citers
The implied obligation on a former employee not to use or disclose information may cover secret processes of manufacture such as chemical formulae.
Scottish Insurance Commissioners -v- Church of Scotland; SCS 18-Oct-1913
Scottish Insurance Commissioners -v- Church of Scotland 1914 SC 16
Lord Kinnear, Lord Johnstone, Lord Mackenzie
Scotland, Employment, Ecclesiastical Casemap

Assistants to ministers, (not associate ministers), of the Church of Scotland are not employed by the Church under contracts of employment. The 'control' test was to be used in identifying a contract of employment. An assistant to a minister was not subject to the control and direction of any particular master. An assistant holds an ecclesiastical office and performs his duties subject to the laws of the church. In any event there was difficulty in identifying exactly who was the assistant's employer. Lord Johnstone said that employment must be under a contract of service. A contract of service assumes an employer and a servant. It assumes the power of appointment and dismissal in the employer, the right of control over the servant in the employer, and the duty of service to the employer in the servant. There was no one who occupied that position. The contract in which the assistant was engaged was more a contract for services than a contract of service.
Lord Kinnear: "I think that the position of an assistant minister in these Churches is not that of a person who undertakes work defined by contract but of a person who holds an ecclesiastical office, and who performs the duties of that office subject to the laws of the Church to which he belongs and not subject to the control and direction of any particular master." He contrasted this position with that of lay missionaries: "The probationers who are appointed to the position of assistant ministers are students of divinity who have obtained a licence to preach from the presbytery… Now, we are told in this case what the terms of the licence are. The licence bears that the presbytery licences the person named to preach the Gospel of Christ and to exercise his gifts as a probationer for the holy ministry. When a person so licensed is appointed to be assistant to a minister, I think that his authority to perform the duties that belong to that office does not arise from any contract between himself and the minister, or himself and the kirk-session or anybody else, but arises from the licence given to him by the presbytery to exercise his gifts. He is, therefore, in my opinion a person who is no sense performing duties fixed and defined by a contract of service."
Lord Mackenzie: An assistant minister was:- "really the case of one who is discharging the duties of an office, and whatever authority is exercised over him is in virtue of an ecclesiastical jurisdiction, and is not in virtue of rights which arise out of a contract of service."
Herbert Morris Ltd -v- Saxelby; HL 1916
Attwood -v- Lamont; 1920
Great Western Railway Co -v- Bater [1920] 3 KB 266

Employment Casemap
1 Citers
At common law, and office is "a subsisting, permanent, substantive position, which had an existence independently of the person who filled it, and which went on and was filled in succession by successive holders."
Fitch -v- Dewes [1921] 2 AC 158
Lord Birkenhead LC
1 Citers
An assistant solicitor had already worked for his employer in humbler status for many years when, aged 27, he signed a covenant restricting his acting in competition with his employer within seven miles of Tamworth Town Hall for an unlimited time. He complained of the temporal restriction. Held: "What are the facts here? A boy of the age of 14 is taken from a humble employment in the office of the local co-operative society and he is trained in the office of a solicitor of position in this particular neighbourhood . . . Indeed I am of the opinion that it is in the public interest that a proper restrictive agreement of this kind between an established solicitor, possibly an elderly man, and a younger man should be allowed. It is in the public interest because otherwise solicitors carrying on their business without a partner would be extremely chary of admitting competent young men to their offices and to the confidential knowledge to be derived by frequenting those offices."
Waterman -v- Fryer; 1922
Holland -v- London Society of Compositors and Another 1924 Times LR 440

1 Citers
A provincial trade union had agreed with a London union that if a member of the former was offered a job in London, he would be entitled to membership of the latter. Mr Justice Lush said that: "He could not accept the contention that the contract was made for any individual or for his behoof and benefit, but it was made by the trade unions concerned for their own purposes."