The plaintiffs were French producers of turkeys. They alleged that the Minister revoked their licence to import turkeys into this country by a decision that was ultra vires and motivated by a desire to assist British turkey producers, and that this amounted to misfeasance in public office. The Minister sought to have the plea struck out on the ground that it lacked the essential averment that the Minister acted with the purpose of inflicting harm on the plaintiffs, in other words that he had ‘targeted malice’.
Held: It was proper to draw an inference from a party’s behaviour as to their tortious intentions: ‘If an act is done deliberately and with knowledge of its consequences, we do not think that the actor can sensibly say that he did not ‘intend’ the consequences or that the act was not ‘aimed’ at the person who, it is known, will suffer them.’ The court examined the necessary ingredients of the tort of misfeasance in public office. It recognised and analysed two strands of the tort. The claim against the nominated department of state depended on proof that ‘the minister’s motive was to further the interests of English turkey producers by keeping out the produce of French turkey producers – an act which must necessarily injure them’
It was ‘immaterial that one purpose was dominant and the second merely a subsidiary purpose for giving effect to the dominant purpose. If an act is done deliberately and with knowledge of its consequences, I do not think that the actor can sensibly say that he did not ‘intend’ the consequences of the act or that the act was not ‘aimed’ at the person who, it is known, will suffer them.’
Oliver LJ: ‘If it be shown that the minister’s motive was to further the interests of English turkey producers by keeping out the produce of French turkey producers – an act which must necessarily injure them – it seems to me entirely immaterial that the one purpose was dominant and the second merely a subsidiary purpose for giving effect to the dominant purpose. If an act is done deliberately and with knowledge of its consequences, I do not think that the actor can sensibly say that he did not ‘intend’ the consequences or that the act was not ‘aimed’ at the person who, it is known, will suffer them. In my judgment, the judge was right in his conclusion also on this point.’
Oliver LJ, Mann J
 QB 716,  3 WLR 1027
England and Wales
Appeal from – Bourgoin SA v Minister of Agriculture Fisheries and Food 1985
The Minister had revoked the plaintiffs’ licence in order to protect English turkey producers against competition from French turkey producers, knowing that this was in breach of the UK’s obligations under article 30 of the EEC treaty, that the act . .
Cited – Dunlop v Woollahra Municipal Council PC 1982
A plaintiff can allege misfeasance in public office against a body such as a local authority or a government ministry. The tort was well establshed. . .
Cited – Chagos Islanders v The Attorney General, Her Majesty’s British Indian Ocean Territory Commissioner QBD 9-Oct-2003
The Chagos Islands had been a British dependent territory since 1814. The British government repatriated the islanders in the 1960s, and the Ilois now sought damages for their wrongful displacement, misfeasance, deceit, negligence and to establish a . .
Cited – IS Innovative Software Ltd v Howes CA 19-Feb-2004
It was alleged that the defendant had backdated contracts of employment to a time when he had been employed by the claimant, and had induced staff to leave. The company appealed dismissal of its claim.
Held: The advantage of the court . .
Cited – Three Rivers District Council and Others v Governor and Company of The Bank of England HL 18-May-2000
The applicants alleged misfeasance against the Bank of England in respect of the regulation of a bank.
Held: The Bank could not be sued in negligence, but the tort of misfeasance required clear evidence of misdeeds. The action was now properly . .
Cited – Three Rivers District Council v Bank of England QBD 22-Apr-1996
In an allegation of misfeasance in public office, a complainant who says he has been affected by the alleged misfeasance, has sufficient locus standi to claim. Parliamentary materials are admissible to discover purpose of an Act, and not just in . .
Cited – Three Rivers District Council and Others v Governor and Company of the Bank of England (No 3) CA 10-Dec-1998
The tort of misfeasance in public office is not separated into two distinct limbs. In each case the Plaintiff must show a deliberate and dishonest abuse of his position by a public official aware of the loss that will follow or reckless as to such a . .
Cited – Barnard v Restormel Borough Council CA 6-Feb-1998
The council appealed a refusal to strike out the proceedings. The claimant alleged misfeasance in a planning decision giving a competitor consent to development. He said the mayor had deceived the planning committee as to the need to consider the . .
Cited – Chagos Islanders v Attorney-General and Another CA 22-Jul-2004
The claimants sought leave to appeal against a finding that they had no cause of action for their expulsion from their islands.
Held: ‘Exile without colour of law is forbidden by Magna Carta. That it can amount to a public law wrong is already . .
Cited – Regina v Secretary of State for Transport Ex Parte Factortame Ltd and Others (No 5) Admn 31-Jul-1997
A breach of EU law by the UK government was not sufficient to justify or allow the award of punitive damages. Liability had been established. The court considered whether exemplary damages could and should be awarded. In that context liability was . .
Cited – Phonographic Performance Limited v Department of Trade and Industry HM Attorney General ChD 23-Jul-2004
The claimant represented the interests of copyright holders, and complained that the defendant had failed to implement the Directive properly, leaving them unable properly to collect royalties in the music rental market. The respondent argued that . .
Cited – Kuwait Oil Tanker Company SAK and Another v Al Bader and Others CA 18-May-2000
The differences between tortious conspiracies where the underlying acts were either themselves unlawful or not, did not require that the conspiracy claim be merged in the underlying acts where those acts were tortious. A civil conspiracy to injure . .
Cited – Douglas and others v Hello! Ltd and others (No 3) CA 18-May-2005
The principal claimants sold the rights to take photographs of their wedding to a co-claimant magazine (OK). Persons acting on behalf of the defendants took unauthorised photographs which the defendants published. The claimants had retained joint . .
Cited – Hilda Amoo-Gottfried v Legal Aid Board (No 1 Regional Committee) CA 1-Dec-2000
The claimant appealed an order dismissing her claim for misfeasance in public office by the defendant, for the way in which they had mishandled her membership of duty solicitor rota schemes.
Held: The court discussed the requirements for . .
Cited – Warner-Lambert Company Llc v Generics (UK) Ltd (T/A Mylan) and Another SC 14-Nov-2018
These proceedings raise, for the first time in the courts of the United Kingdom, the question how the concepts of sufficiency and infringement are to be applied to a patent relating to a specified medical use of a known pharmaceutical compound. Four . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Updated: 18 October 2021; Ref: scu.186642