Torquay Hotel v Cousins: CA 17 Dec 1968

The plaintiff contracted to buy oil for his hotel from Esso. Members of the defendant trades union blocked the deliveries of oil by Esso to the Hotel because of a trade dispute they had with the management of the hotel. The hotel sued for an injunction and damages on the ground, amongst others, that the actions of the members of the Union constituted unlawful interference with the performance of the contract between the hotel and Esso.
Held: The court summarised the three elements of the tort of procuring a breach of contract: ‘First, there must be interference in the execution of the contract. The interference is not confined to the procurement of a breach of contract. It extends to a case where a third person prevents or hinders one party from performing his contract, even though it be not a breach. Second, the interference must be deliberate. The person must know of the contract or, at any rate, turn a blind eye to it and intend to interfere with it. . Third, the interference must be direct. Indirect interference will not do.’ The court extended the tort to include deliberate direct interference in the execution of a contract by preventing or hindering one party from performing the contract even though that would not have been an actionable breach because, as in this case there was an exemption clause.
Lord Denning MR, Russell LJ, Winn LJ
[1969] 2 Ch 106, [1968] EWCA Civ 2, [1969] 2 WLR 289, [1969] 1 All ER 522
England and Wales
ExtendedLumley v Gye 1853
An opera singer (Miss Wagner) and the defendant theatre owner were joint wrongdoers. They had a common design that the opera singer should break her contract with the plaintiff theatre owner, refuse to sing in the plaintiff’s theatre and instead . .
CitedEmerald Construction Co v Lowthian CA 1965
The defendant union officials threatened a building contractor with a strike unless he terminated a sub-contract for the supply of labour. They obviously knew that there was a contract, since they wanted it terminated, but did not know its terms . .
CitedLumley v Wagner 1852
A girl (under age) and her father contracted for her to perform at a theatre abroad, and later not to use her talents without the consent of her manager. She contracted with a competing theatre. She resisted an action by the manager saying that the . .
CitedBeetham v Trinidad Cement Ltd 1960
The court considered what was a trade dispute. . .
CitedHuntley v Thornton 1957
It was an unlawful conspiracy at common law to pursue a closed shop against individuals beyond the point which the courts regarded as the defence of genuine trade union interests.
Harman J looked at the law of conspiracy where employees . .
CitedPoussard v Spiers 1876
Madam Poussard was under contract with Spiers to sing in an opera at the Criterian Theatre. She fell sick and was unable to attend rehearsals. Her non-performance, being caused by sickness, was not a breach of contract on her part.
Held: The . .
CitedQuinn v Leathem HL 5-Aug-1901
Quinn was treasurer of a Belfast butchers’ association. Leathem, who traded as a butcher, employed some non-union men, although when the union made difficulties he asked for them to be admitted to the union, and offered to pay their dues. The union . .
CitedNew Zealand Shipping Co Ltd v Societe des Ateliers et Chantiers de France 1919
. .

Cited by:
CitedEsso Petroleum v Kingswood Motors (Addlestone) Ltd and Others 1974
The defendant entered into a five year solus tie agreement with the plaintiff which required the defendant before completing any sale or transfer of the garage or its business to notify Esso and procure such person to enter into a direct agreement . .
ApprovedMerkur Island Corp v Laughton HL 1983
The shipowner claimants were party to a contract under which their obligation to prosecute their voyages with the utmost despatch was qualified by clauses providing for the vessel to go off hire and for charterers to have a right after 10 days to . .
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 . .
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 . .
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. . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 19 February 2021; Ref: scu.216556