Tate and Lyle Food Distribution Ltd v Greater London Council: 1981

Forbes J considered the principles to be applied when considering the award of interest on damages between the date of the loss and the judgment: ‘Despite the way in which Lord Herschell LC in London, Chatham and Dover Railway Co v South Eastern Railway Co [1893] AC 429 at 437 stated the principle governing the award of interest on damages, I do not think the modern law is that interest is awarded against the defendant as a punitive measure for having kept the plaintiff out of his money. I think the principle now recognised is that it is all part of the attempt to achieve restitutio in integrum. One looks, therefore, not at the profit which the defendant wrongfully made out of the money he withheld (this would indeed involve a scrutiny of the defendant’s financial position) but at the cost to the plaintiff of being deprived of the money which he should have had. I feel satisfied that in commercial cases the interest is intended to reflect the rate at which the plaintiff would have had to borrow money to supply the place of that which was withheld. I am also satisfied that one should not look at any special position in which the plaintiff may have been; one should disregard, for instance, the fact that a particular plaintiff, because of his personal situation, could only borrow money at a very high rate or, on the other hand, was able to borrow at specially favourable rates. The correct thing to do is to take the rate at which plaintiffs in general could borrow money. This does not, however, to my mind, mean that you exclude entirely all attributes of the plaintiff other than that he is a plaintiff. There is evidence here that large public companies of the size and prestige of these plaintiffs could expect to borrow at 1% over MLR, while for smaller and less prestigious concerns the rate might be as high as 3% over MLR. I think it would always be right to look at the rate at which plaintiffs with the general attributes of the actual plaintiff in the case (though not, of course, with any special or peculiar attribute) could borrow money as a guide to the appropriate interest rate. If commercial rates are appropriate I would take 1% over MLR as the proper figure for interest in this case.’

Forbes J
[1981] 3 All ER 716, [1982] 1 WLR 149
CitedLondon, Chatham and Dover Railway Co v South Eastern Railway Co HL 1893
The Lord Chancellor was considering the position of a creditor whose debtor refused to exchange accounts as agreed, thus preventing the creditor from quantifying the debt.
Held: The House declined to alter the rule in Page -v- Newman.
Cited by:
At First InstanceTate and Lyle Industries Ltd v Greater London Council HL 24-Mar-1983
The plaintiff had constructed and used two jetties, and dredged a channel down to the Thames for their use. The Council constructed two terminals nearby, the result of which was to cause a build up of silt blocking the channel.
Held: The . .
CitedPegler Ltd v Wang (UK) Ltd TCC 25-Feb-2000
Standard Conract – Wide Exclusions, Apply 1977 Act
The claimant had acquired a computer system from the defendant, which had failed. It was admitted that the contract had been broken, and the court set out to decide the issue of damages.
Held: Even though Wang had been ready to amend one or . .
CitedAdcock v Co-Operative Insurance Society Ltd CA 26-Apr-2000
The claimant claimed under his fire insurance with the defendants. He sought damages for their delay in processing the claim.
Held: The power to award interest on damages is discretionary. The judge had refused to allow interest, at a rate . .
CitedSycamore Bidco Ltd v Breslin and Another ChD 18-Mar-2013
. .
CitedJones and Others v Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change and Another QBD 3-May-2013
The claimants sought an order for pre-judgment interest on the disbursements incurred in this group litigation. The clients were liable for payment of the disbursements under the conditional fee agreements, and in this case these amounted to over . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 18 December 2021; Ref: scu.238596