Mogul Steamship Company Limited v McGregor Gow and Co: CA 2 Jul 1889

Ship-owners formed an association which in this action others claimed to be a tortious conspiracy.
Held: There is a cause of action against the conspirators where there is an agreement which constitutes an indictable conspiracy and that agreement is carried into execution by the conspirators by means of an unlawful act or acts which produce private injury to the claimant. ‘[M]alicious’ was not to be given its ordinary meaning (malice in fact), but rather a technical legal meaning (malice in law), meaning an intention to carry out an act that was wrongful in order to damage another or to the detriment of another, or to hurt another. Bowen LJ: ‘No man, whether trader or not, can however justify damaging another in his commercial business by fraud or misrepresentation. Intimidation, obstruction and molestation are forbidden; so is the intentional procurement or violation of individual rights, contractual or other, assuming always that there is no just cause for it . . but the defendants have been guilty of none of these acts. They have done nothing more against the plaintiffs than pursue to the bitter end a war of competition waged in the context of their own trade. To the argument that a competition so pursued ceases to have a just cause or excuse when there is ill-will or a personal intention to harm it is sufficient to reply (as I have already pointed out) that there was here no personal intention to do any other than such as was necessarily involved in the desire to attract to the defendant’s ships the entire tea freights of the ports.’


Lord Esher MR, Bowen LJ, Fry LJ


(1889) 23 QBD 555, [1889] UKLawRpKQB 117




England and Wales


Appeal fromMogul Steamship Company Limited v McGregor Gow and Co QBD 10-Aug-1885
Ship owners formed themselves into an association to protect their trading interests which then caused damage to rival ship owners. The plaintiffs complained about being kept out of the conference of shipowners trading between China and London.
Appeal fromMogul Steamship Company Limited v McGregor Gow and Co QBD 31-Oct-1888
The defendants, who were firms of shipowners trading between China and Europe, with a view to obtaining for themselves a monopoly of the homeward tea trade and thereby keeping up the rate of freight, formed themselves into an association, and . .

Cited by:

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The Claimant claimed on a letter of credit issued by the Defendant on behalf of Enron Ltd, who asserted it was not liable to pay there having been unlawful behaviour by Enron Ltd. Swap agreements had been entered into, and the defendant said the . .
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 . .
Appeal fromMogul Steamship Co Ltd v McGregor, Gow and Co HL 18-Dec-1891
An association of shipowners agreed to use various lawful means to dissuade customers from shipping their goods by the Mogul line.
Held: The agreement was lawful in the sense that it gave the Mogul Company no right to sue them. But (majority) . .
CitedNorris v United States of America and others HL 12-Mar-2008
The detainee appealed an order for extradition to the USA, saying that the offence (price-fixing) was not one known to English common law. The USA sought his extradition under the provisions of the Sherman Act.
Held: It was not, and it would . .
CitedDigicel (St Lucia) Ltd and Others v Cable and Wireless Plc and Others ChD 15-Apr-2010
The claimants alleged breaches of legislation by members of the group of companies named as defendants giving rise to claims in conspiracy to injure by unlawful means. In effect they had been denied the opportunity to make interconnections with . .
CitedJSC BTA Bank v Khrapunov SC 21-Mar-2018
A had been chairman of the claimant bank. After removal, A fled to the UK, obtaining asylum. The bank then claimed embezzlement, and was sentenced for contempt after failing to disclose assets when ordered, but fled the UK. The Appellant, K, was A’s . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Torts – Other

Updated: 09 September 2022; Ref: scu.200479