Millar and Others v Bassey and Another: CA 26 Aug 1993

It was alleged that Miss Shirley Bassey had breached her contract with a record producer Dreampace (or with her own management company which had in turn contracted with Dreampace), as a result of which Dreampace had been unable to perform a contract with the plaintiffs of which Miss Bassey had known.
Held: The court asked ‘Must the conduct of the defendant, the alleged tortfeasor, be aimed directly at the plaintiff, the contracting party, who suffers damage, in the sense that the defendant intends that the plaintiff’s contract should be broken, or is it sufficient that that conduct should have the natural and probable consequence that the plaintiff’s contract is broken?’ No specific intent is necessary to establish the tort of inducing a breach of contract. The tort is ‘a species of the genus of economic torts whereby the common law protects against the intentional violation of economic interests’.
Peter Gibson LJ: There had to be the deliberate interference with a contract with a view to bringing about its breach rather than interference causing a breach when that interference was merely the incidental consequence of the defendant’s conduct: ‘ . . it is a requirement of the tort that it should be established that the defendant by his conduct intended to break or otherwise interfere with and, with that intention, did break or otherwise interfere with a contract to which the plaintiff was a party.’
Beldam LJ: ”In the passage cited, Woolf LJ was in my opinion emphasising the distinction between an intention to bring about a consequence and the desire to do so and was pointing out that a person can intend a consequence if he knows that it will follow from a course of conduct on which he embarks deliberately. Nor I my view can a consequence properly be regarded as unintended or incidental if the deliberate action is taken knowing that it must inevitably bring about the consequence, desired or not. In truth in such a case the actor intends to bring about both the undesired and the desired consequence and is willing to bring about the one to achieve the other. ‘
Ralph Gibson and Beldam LJJ
Independent 26-Aug-1993, [1994] EMLR 44
England and Wales
Cited by:
CitedOBG Ltd OBG (Plant and Transport Hire) Ltd v Raymond International Ltd; OBG Ltd v Allen CA 9-Feb-2005
The defendants had wrongfully appointed receivers of the claimant, who then came into the business and terminated contracts undertaken by the business. The claimant asserted that their actions amounted to a wrongful interference in their contracts . .
ConsideredLatvian Shipping Company and Others v Stocznia Gdanska Sa CA 21-Jun-2002
A payment condition was just that and that a failure to pay entitled the seller to terminate at common law. Rix LJ said: ‘It is established law that, where one party to a contract has repudiated it, the other may validly accept that repudiation by . .
View of Stuart Smith LJ approvedOren, Tiny Love Limited v Red Box Toy Factory Limited, Red Box Toy (UK) Limited, Index Limited, Martin Yaffe International Limited, Argos Distributors Limited PatC 1-Feb-1999
One plaintiff was the exclusive licensee of a registered design. The defendant sold articles alleged to infringe the design right. The registered owner had a statutory right to sue for infringement. But the question was whether the licensee could . .
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 . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 09 April 2021; Ref: scu.83721