Actionable Torts in UK Law

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Leading Cases
  • OBG Ltd and another v Allan and Others
    • House of Lords
    • 02 May 2007

    In my opinion, and subject to one qualification, acts against a third party count as unlawful means only if they are actionable by that third party. The qualification is that they will also be unlawful means if the only reason why they are not actionable is because the third party has suffered no loss. In the case of intimidation, for example, the threat will usually give rise to no cause of action by the third party because he will have suffered no loss.

    In my opinion the courts should be similarly cautious in extending a tort which was designed only to enforce basic standards of civilised behaviour in economic competition, between traders or between employers and labour. Otherwise there is a danger that it will provide a cause of action based on acts which are wrongful only in the irrelevant sense that a third party has a right to complain if he chooses to do so.

    Nevertheless, the common thread is striking through a third party who might otherwise be doing business with your target, whether by buying his goods, hiring his barges or working for him or whatever.

    As Lord Hoffmann explains, any liability for this tort is primary (unlike the accessory liability which arises under the principle in Lumley v Gye 2 E & B 216 where the defendant induces a contracting party to commit an actionable wrong against the claimant) and it arises where the defendant, generally to advance his own purposes, intentionally injures the claimant's economic interests by unlawfully interfering with a third party's freedom to deal with him.

  • Sorrell v Smith
    • House of Lords
    • 15 May 1925

    How any definite line is to be drawn between acts, whose real purpose is to advance the defendants' interests, and acts, whose real purpose is to injure the plaintiff in his trade, is a thing which I feel at present beyond my power. When the whole object of the defendants' action is to capture the plaintiff's business, their gain must be his loss. The defendants' success is the plaintiff's extinction and they cannot seek the one without ensuing the other.

  • Esso Petroleum Company Ltd v Mardon
    • Court of Appeal
    • 06 Feb 1976

    It seems to me that Hedley Byrne, properly understood, covers this particular proposition: If a man, who has or professes to have special knowledge or skill, makes a representation by virtue thereof to another – be it advice, information or opinion – with the intention of inducing him to enter into a contract with him, he is under a duty to use reasonable care to see that the representation is correct, and that the advice, information or opinion is reliable.

  • Smith New Court Securities Ltd v Scrimgeour Vickers (Asset Management) Ltd and Another
    • House of Lords
    • 21 Nov 1996

    But in cases where property has been acquired in reliance on a fraudulent misrepresentation there are likely to be many cases where the general rule has to be departed from in order to give adequate compensation for the wrong done to the plaintiff, in particular where the fraud continues to influence the conduct of the plaintiff after the transaction is complete or where the result of the transaction induced by fraud is to lock the plaintiff into continuing to hold the asset acquired. But in cases where property has been acquired in reliance on a fraudulent misrepresentation there are likely to be many cases where the general rule has to be departed from in order to give adequate compensation for the wrong done to the plaintiff, in particular where the fraud continues to influence the conduct of the plaintiff after the transaction is complete or where the result of the transaction induced by fraud is to lock the plaintiff into continuing to hold the asset acquired.

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Legislation
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Books & Journal Articles
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Law Firm Commentaries
  • The Power of the Freezer
    • JD Supra United Kingdom
    • Dechert LLP
    • 27 de Marzo de 2018
    In a helpful decision for claimants, the UK Supreme Court has confirmed that conspiring to breach a Freezing Order constitutes “unlawful means” for the purposes of the tort of Unlawful Means Conspi...
    ...... . Conspiracy is one of a group of torts commonly known as economic torts and allows a party to recover damages ... or fiduciary duties, breach of civil statutory duties, torts actionable by third parties (other than the claimant) and criminal acts. Which of ......
  • Threats Of IP Infringement And The Amendments To S70 Patents Act
    • Mondaq United Kingdom
    • 8 de Enero de 2008
    ...... provision making unjustifiable threats of infringement actionable being incorporated in the Patents, Designs and Trade Marks Act of 1883. ... Several common law torts can, and have been, used to achieve much the same result as the statutory ......
  • Threats Of IP Infringement And The Amendments To S70 Patents Act
    • Mondaq United Kingdom
    • 3 de Mayo de 2007
    ...... provision making unjustifiable threats of infringement actionable being incorporated in the Patents, Designs and Trade Marks Act of 1883. ... Several common law torts can be, and have been, used to achieve much the same result as the ......
  • Michael Douglas Photo Exclusive And Other Stories
    • Mondaq United Kingdom
    • 10 de Mayo de 2007
    ...House of Lords re-defines the law on economic torts and commercial confidentiality: OBG v Allan; Douglas v Hello! Limited; and ... any photographs of the wedding, and that was, in his view, an actionable right of confidentiality which Hello! had breached. In one of the two ......
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