Edwards v SOGAT: CA 1971

Mr Edwards, who was black, was a skilled worker in a 100-per-cent union printshop. His employers were compelled to dismiss him after his dues had been allowed to fall into arrear through a union official’s neglect. He sued the union in contract. He won his action before Buckley J, but the union appealed on quantum. The union had at a late stage agreed to readmit him, but it was too late to put him back in his original job, and he had meanwhile found and then lost another job. Denning MR ‘I feel that damages in a case such as this are so difficult to assess that I would be inclined to view them somewhat broadly. I would start with the loss of earnings which he might reasonably be expected to have suffered over two years from his expulsion. That is what was suggested by Lord Donovan’s Committee. I would then work upwards or downwards from that figure, according to the circumstances of the case.’ Sachs LJ: ‘The union’s liability in damages being clear, this appeal is concerned with their measure – an important matter in the particular circumstances. These damages, of course, sound in contract and not in tort. It is, however, as well to record at the outset . . that certain rules laid down in Addis touching damages for wrongful dismissal have no application to the present type of case. In other words, whereas in the former class of cases the damages can contain no element for the difficulty the dismissal causes to a plaintiff in getting fresh employment, the essence of the measure in the present case is an assessment of the financial consequences of that very difficulty.’
Megaw LJ, preferred to segregate past loss from future loss. Of the element future loss: ‘Where there are so many incalculables, it would not be right to seek to give an aura of scientific respectability to the assessment of future damages by purporting to apply arithmetical or actuarial formulae to the assessment, or to any individual factor on which the assessment partly depends. One must try to assess. One cannot calculate.’


Lord Denning MR, Sachs LJ, Megaw LJ


[1971] Ch 354


England and Wales


CitedMaddison v Alderson HL 1883
The requirement of the doctrine of part performance is that the acts of part performance relied upon must be ‘referable’ to the contract sued on. The principle underlying the doctrine of part performance was expressed by Lord Selborne: ‘In a suit . .

Cited by:

CitedDunnachie v Kingston Upon Hull City Council CA 11-Feb-2004
Compensation for non-economic loss brought about by the manner of an unfair dismissal is, on authority and on principle, recoverable. The award of such compensation by the employment tribunal in the present case was not excessive and was adequately . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Employment, Damages

Updated: 23 June 2022; Ref: scu.194791