Van Camp Chocolates Ltd v Aulesbrooks Ltd: 1984

(New Zealand Court of Appeal) The plaintiffs sued for interference with their business by unlawful means, namely breach of confidence. A preliminary point of law was argued as to the nature of the intent to injure the plaintiffs necessary to establish the tort. The court said this: ‘In principle, as we see it, an attempt to harm a plaintiff’s economic interests should not transmute the defendant’s conduct into a tort actionable by the plaintiff unless that intent is a cause of his conduct. If the defendant would have used the unlawful means in question without that intent, and if that intent would not have led him to act as he did, the mere existence of the purely collateral and extraneous malicious motive should not make all the difference. The essence of the tort is deliberate interference with the plaintiff’s interests by unlawful means. If the reasons which actuate the defendant to use unlawful means are wholly independent of a wish to interfere with the plaintiff’s business, such interference being no more than an incidental consequence foreseen by and gratifying to the defendant, we think that to impose liability would be to stretch the tort too far’


[1984] 1 NZLR 354

Cited by:

ApprovedBarretts and Baird (Wholesale) Ltd v Institution of Professional Civil Servants (IPCS) 1986
A strike by civil servants in the Ministry of Agriculture in support of a pay claim was not intended to cause damage to an abattoir which was unable to obtain the certificates necessary for exporting meat and claiming subsidies. The damage to 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 . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Commonwealth, Torts – Other

Updated: 30 April 2022; Ref: scu.225469