Lonrho plc v Fayed: CA 1989

There had been a battle to purchase the share capital of the House of Fraser which owned Harrods. Lonrho alleged that the Fayed brothers had perpetrated a fraud on the Secretary of State, and thereby secured permission to buy the company without a reference to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission and preventing Lonrho from buying the company. Lonrho did not pursue a claim for tortious conspiracy, accepting that this required a predominant intention to injure them. They did, however, pursue a claim for unlawful interference, appealing against an order striking out this claim.
Held: The appeal succeeded. Dillon LJ held that, in relation to unlawful interference with business, it was sufficient to show an intention directed at the claimant or alternatively intent to injure the claimant. Ralph Gibson and Woolf LJJ held that intention would be shown where the defendant had deliberately embarked on a course of conduct, ‘the probable consequences of which to the plaintiff he appreciated’. In Woolf LJ’s view it was unnecessary to show that the interference was inevitable. It might be enough that the results were probable.
Dillon LJ: ‘It is submitted to us that, even with this tort, it must, as with the tort of conspiracy, have been the predominant purpose of the tortfeasor to injure the victim rather than to further the tortfeasor’s own financial ends. I do not accept that. It would be inconsistent with the way Lord Diplock treated this tort and the tort of conspiracy differently in his speech in Lonrho Ltd v Shell Petroleum Co. Ltd (No2) and in Hadmor Productions Ltd v Hamilton [1983] 1 AC 191, 228-229. No predominant purpose to injure is required where the tortuous act relied on is injury by wrongful interference with a third party’s contract with the victim or by intimidation of a third party to the detriment of the victim, nor should it in my view be required where the wrongful interference has been by the practice of fraud on a third party, aimed specifically at the plaintiff. . . ‘
Woolf LJ: ‘So far as conspiracy is concerned, there is good reason for requiring that predominant intent should be an ingredient of the tort. Great difficulty would, in my view, arise if a requirement of predominant intent to injure were to be introduced into the tort with which we are concerned here. This tort is not based upon any agreement, but interference, and frequently it will be fully appreciated by a defendant that a course of conduct that he is embarking upon will have a particular consequence to a plaintiff and the defendant will have decided to pursue that course of conduct knowing what the consequence will be. Albeit that he may have no desire to bring about that consequence in order to achieve what he regards as his ultimate ends, from the point of view of the plaintiff, whatever the motive of the defendant, the damage which he suffers will be the same. If a defendant has deliberately embarked upon a course of conduct, the probable consequences of which to the plaintiff he appreciated, I do not see why the plaintiff should not be compensated.’
Dillon LJ, Ralph Gibson LJ, Woolf LJ
[1990] 2 QB 479, [1989] 2 All ER 65
England and Wales
CitedRCA Corporation v Pollard CA 1982
The illegal activities of bootleggers who had made unauthorised recordings of concerts, diminished the profitability of contracts granting to the plaintiffs the exclusive right to exploit recordings by Elvis Presley.
Held: The defendant’s . .
Appeal fromLonhro plc v Fayed 19-Jul-1988
The plaintiff and defendant competed in bidding for a public company. The plaintiff having been restrained by the Secretary of State, alleged that the defendant had used a fraudulent misrepresentation to achieve this.
Held: It was not a tort . .

Cited by:
CitedR Cruickshank Limited v The Chief Constable of Kent County Constabulary CA 13-Dec-2002
The claimant had sought damages from the defendant for unlawful interference with contractual relations, and for misfeasance in public office. It now appealed against an order striking out its claim. It claimed that the police had unlawfully abused . .
Appeal fromLonrho plc v Fayed HL 2-Jan-1991
In a conspiracy, the intent to injure need not be the primary intent, but there must be some intent which involves the conspiring parties directing their minds towards the victim or a category of persons which would include the victim as a target to . .
CitedDouglas 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 . .
CitedMainstream Properties Ltd v Young and others CA 13-Jul-2005
The claimant appealed refusal of his claim for inducing a breach of contract against the sixth defendant. It said that an intention to disturb a contract could be inferred.
Held: A mere recklessness as to whether contractual rights were . .
CitedDouglas and others v Hello! Ltd and others; similar HL 2-May-2007
In Douglas, the claimants said that the defendants had interfered with their contract to provide exclusive photographs of their wedding to a competing magazine, by arranging for a third party to infiltrate and take and sell unauthorised photographs. . .
CitedSecretary of State for Health and Another v Servier Laboratories Ltd and Others SC 2-Jul-2021
Economic tort of causing loss by unlawful means
The Court was asked whether the ‘dealing requirement’ is a constituent part of the tort of causing loss by unlawful means; whether a necessary element of the unlawful means tort is that the unlawful means should have affected the third party’s . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 16 July 2021; Ref: scu.183223