J. T. Stratford & Son Ltd v Lindley

JurisdictionUK Non-devolved
JudgeLord Reid,Viscount Radcliffe,Lord Pearce,Lord Upjohn,Lord Donovan
Judgment Date28 July 1964
Judgment citation (vLex)[1964] UKHL J0728-3
Date28 July 1964
CourtHouse of Lords
J. T. Stratford & Son Ltd.
Lindley and Another

[1964] UKHL J0728-3

Lord Reid

Viscount Radcliffe

Lord Pearce

Lord Upjohn

Lord Donovan

House of Lords

Upon Report from the Appellate Committee, to whom was referred the Cause J. T. Stratford & Son Limited against Lindley (A.P.) and another, that the Committee had heard Counsel, as well on Wednesday the 1st, as on Thursday the 2d, Monday the 6th, Tuesday the 7th, Wednesday the 8th and Thursday the 9th, days of this instant July, upon the Petition and Appeal of J. T. Stratford & Son Limited, whose registered office is situate at St. Mary's and St. Andrew's Wharves, Woolwich, S.E.18, in the County of London, praying, That the matter of the Order set forth in the Schedule thereto, namely, an Order of Her Majesty's Court of Appeal of the 25th of March 1964, might be reviewed before Her Majesty the Queen, in Her Court of Parliament, and that the said Order might be reversed, varied or altered, and that the Petitioners might have the relief prayed for in the Appeal, or such other relief in the premises as to Her Majesty the Queen, in Her Court of Parliament, might seem meet; as also upon the Case of William Arthur John Lindley, Assisted Person, and Henry James Humphrey Watson, lodged in answer to the said Appeal; and due consideration had this day of what was offered on either side in this Cause:

It is Ordered and Adjudged, by the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in the Court of Parliament of Her Majesty the Queen assembled, That the said Order of Her Majesty's Court of Appeal, of the 25th day of March 1964, complained of in the said Appeal, be, and the same is hereby, Reversed:

And it is further Ordered, That the Cause be remitted back to the Queen's Bench Division of the High Court of Justice with a Direction to grant an injunction restraining the Respondents and each of them until Judgment or further Order from doing (whether by themselves or by their servants agents or workmen or any of them or otherwise howsoever) any act which causes or procures a breach or breaches by customers of the Appellant company of contracts made now or hereafter between the Appellant company and such customers for the hiring of barges of the Appellant company:

And it is further Ordered, That the Costs incurred here and in the Court of Appeal and in the Queen's Bench Division of the High Court of Justice before the Honourable Mr. Justice Marshall be Costs in the Cause, excepting the Costs resulting from the Appellants' motion to the Court of Appeal to adduce further evidence, which Costs be paid by the Appellants to the Respondents:

And it is further Ordered, That the Costs of the First Respondent in this House be taxed in accordance with the provisions of the Third Schedule to the Legal Aid and Advice Act 1949, as amended by the Legal Aid Act 1960:

And it is also further Ordered, That the Costs of the Second Respondent in this House, up to the date of the revocation of his Emergency Certificate, namely, the 1st day of July 1964, be taxed in accordance with the provisions of the Third Schedule to the Legal Aid and Advice Act 1949, as amended by the Legal Aid Act 1960.

Lord Reid

My Lords,


This is an appeal against an order of the Court of Appeal which discharged an interlocutory injunction granted by Marshall J. on 3rd February, 1964. We only have before us the Appellants' Statement of Claim and a number of affidavits and we can therefore only proceed on a prima facie view of the facts.


The Respondents are officers of the Watermen Lightermen Tugmen and Bargemens Union, which has about 3,000 members out of about 3,350 men employed on this kind of work in the Port of London: the remainder are members of the Transport and General Workers' Union. In 1956 these unions acting jointly tried to open negotiation with Bowker and King, a company which owns and operates motor barges, and they made further joint approaches to that company down to 1962, but Bowker and King refused to negotiate. At that time out of some 50 employees of Bowker and King only three belonged to the Respondents' union and the rest belonged to the Transport Union. In 1963 Bowker and King came to an agreement with the Transport Union without consulting or informing the Watermens' Union. It appears that this agreement provided for terms and conditions of service of all Bowker and King's men including the members of the Respondents' union and there is no suggestion that those terms were unsatisfactory. But the Executive Committee of the Respondents' union were naturally disturbed by the fact that they had been left out in this way, and they sought means to compel Bowker and King to recognise them. Just what they wanted Bowker and King to do is not clear, because they took action without consulting or informing that Company.


They could not usefully take any action against Bowker and King. But they knew that that company was controlled by the Appellant Company and that Mr. Stratford was chairman of both companies and, with his wife, had directly or indirectly a controlling interest in both. So they decided to take action against the Appellant Company by imposing an embargo. On 8th November, 1963, the Respondent Mr. Lindley wrote the following letter as secretary of the Watermens Union to the Association of Master Lightermen:


33, East India Dock Road,

Limehouse, E.14.

8th November, 1963.

Our ref: 12/WL/JJY

J. K. Badcock. Esq.,

General Manager and Secretary.

Association of Master Lightermen,

Plantation House,

Fenchurch Street, E.C.4.

Dear Sir,

re: J. T. Stratford & Son

To confirm my telephone conversation of yesterday's date with Mr. Dunsmore, I now write to inform you of the following matter.

In view of the fact that the above Company has, after repeated efforts on the part of our Organisation to open negotiations, consistently denied this Trade Union the elementary right to negotiate industrial agreements on behalf of the members of this Union employed as crews on their self-propelled barges, trading under the name of Bowker & King, the Executive Council at their meeting held on Wednesday last the 6th instant have decided in defence of fundamental Trade Union principles to issue the following instruction:—

"That with effect from 6 a.m. Monday 11th November, 1963, no member of this Trade Union will in any way, man, service, or tow empty barges owned by J. T. Stratford & Son.

Craft under load will complete loading, and deliver, and when empty will be "blacked".

This instruction will remain in force until further notice."

We regret any inconvenience that may be caused by this instruction to members of the Association of Master Lightermen who are not directly implicated in this problem and should any unforeseen difficulties arise the Officers of this Trade Union have been given the authority to deal with them without reference to the Executive Council. You will note by the terms of this instruction that craft under load or in the process of discharging will be completed and the embargo will become effective when the barges are empty. I repeat: we regret the inconvenience that may be caused but unfortunately the attitude of Mr. J. Stratford to this Trade Union has left us with no alternative action to take.

Yours faithfully,

W. Lindley,

General Secretary."


The Appellant Company carry on two businesses: they own and hire out barges, and they have premises where they repair barges. They do not employ any members of either union. The barge hirers send men to take away barges which they hire and re-deliver them when the job for which they have been hired is finished. And the owners of barges to be repaired deliver them at the Appellants' premises and take them away when the repair is completed. So the result of the embargo was and was intended by the Respondents to be to bring the Appellants' business to a standstill. Barges out on hire could not be returned: the watermen simply tied them up at the nearest mooring. No further barges could be hired by the hirers because the watermen would not collect them. And the repair business was brought to a standstill because the men would not deliver or re-deliver barges of other owners which were to be or had been repaired by the Appellants. This action of the men was and was intended to be the direct result of the embargo. It was suggested in argument that the hirers or the Appellants could have obtained the services of other men not members of the Respondents' union. But no one tried to do this: one can I think assume that they knew that this was impracticable, and that when the Watermen's Union imposed the embargo they knew that it would be impracticable.


I should perhaps add that no point has been made of the fact that the Respondents are only two officers of the Union. The Union lifted the embargo when the injunction was granted against the Respondents, and I need not set out the terms of the injunction. When the injunction was discharged by the Court of Appeal the Respondents' Union did not reimpose the embargo but they have given no undertaking that they will not seek to reimpose the embargo in some form if this appeal is dismissed. The Appellants say that while the embargo was in operation it caused them losses of about £1,000 per week.


It is convenient first to consider the question whether the Respondents or their Union were acting in furtherance or contemplation of a trade dispute as defined in section 5 (3) of the Trade Disputes Act 1906. That definition is not always easy to apply, and we do not know yet all the facts which may prove to be relevant. But I do not think that any sufficient prima facie case has been made out by the Respondents. There was no actual dispute between their union and Bowker and King or the Appellants when the embargo was imposed. No doubt they acted in contemplation of a dispute, but what the nature of that dispute was to be I...

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