Mogul 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.
Held: There was no unlawful element in what they were then doing or planning to do. There was no predominant purpose to injure so that the defendants were not liable whether for conspiracy to injure or conspiracy to injure by unlawful means. The court distinguished between a criminal conspiracy which was indictable on proof of the conspiracy, without any acts done in furtherance of it or damage caused, on the one hand, and a civil conspiracy where ‘it is the damage which results from the unlawful combination itself with which the civil action is concerned’
and ‘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 of a violation of individual rights, contractual or other, assuming always that there is no just cause for it.’
and ‘And in this case it is clear that if the object were unlawful, or if the object were lawful but the means employed to effect it were unlawful, and if there were a combination either to effect the unlawful object or to use the unlawful means, then the combination was unlawful, then those who formed it were misdemeanants and a person injured by their misdemeanour has an action in respect of his injury.’

Lord Coleridge CJ
(1884-1885) 15 QBD 476, [1885] UKLawRpKQB 135
England and Wales
Cited by:
Appeal fromMogul 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 . .
CitedMahonia Limited v JP Morgan Chase Bankwest Lb Ag QBD 3-Aug-2004
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; 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. . .
At First Instance (1)Mogul 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) . .
CitedTotal Network Sl v Revenue and Customs HL 12-Mar-2008
The House was asked whether an action for unlawful means conspiracy was available against a participant in a missing trader intra-community, or carousel, fraud. The company appealed a finding of liability saying that the VAT Act and Regulations . .
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 . .
CitedRhodes v OPO and Another SC 20-May-2015
The mother sought to prevent a father from publishing a book about her child’s life. It was to contain passages she said may cause psychological harm to the 12 year old son. Mother and son lived in the USA and the family court here had no . .
See AlsoMogul 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 . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Torts – Other, Contract

Leading Case

Updated: 02 November 2021; Ref: scu.200478