Laws v London Chronicle (Indicator Newspapers) Ltd

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
Judgment Date22 April 1959
Judgment citation (vLex)[1959] EWCA Civ J0422-2
Date22 April 1959
CourtCourt of Appeal
Jean Maude Laws (Spinster)
London Chronicle (Indicator Newspapers) Limited

[1959] EWCA Civ J0422-2


The Master of the Rolls (Lord Evershed)

Lord Jenkins and

Lord Justice Willmer

In The Supreme Court of Judicature

Court of Appeal

Mr. OWEN STABLE (instructed by Messrs. Obwald Hickson Collier & Co.) appeared on behalf of the Appellants (Defendants).

Mr. STEPHEN STEWART (Instructed by Messrs. Tyrell Lewis & Co.) appeared on behalf of the Respondent (Plaintiff).


The Plaintiff in this action, Miss Jean Maude Lavs, was engaged by the Defendant company, London Chronicle (Indicator Newspapers) Limited, on the 28th May, 1956. As appears from the letter addressed to her on that day, she was employed as "advertisement representative" and paid a salary plus commission on all advertising "sold" (as the phrase goes) by Her. Her engagement was terminable by a month's notice on either side. The writer of the letter concluded by wishing her success and expressing trust "that your association with us will be a long and happy one". That rosy hope was, however, doomed to early disappointment; for there occurred, on the afternoon of Friday, 20th June of the same year - three weeks only after she had come - a somewhat unedifying episode. The Chairman and Managing Director of the Defendant company, a Mr. Brittain, had asked a gentleman of the name of Blakey to come and advise him and the company he served on matters of business efficiency; and on the afternoon which I have mentioned the advertisement staff of the paper - namely, its Manager, or Bub-manager, a Mr. Delderfield; and the two persons under his charge, MR. St. George and the Plaintiff - were requested, or invited, or, if you will, ordered, to attend in the room of the Chairman and Managing Director to hear the observationa of Mr. Blakey. While they were there, a most unfortunate scene broke out between Mr. Brittain on the one hand and Mr. Delderfield on the other. It was indeed suggested - with what Justification I know not - that Mr. Delderfield was drunk; so that the proceedings were interrupted by a request on the part of the Chairman and Managing Director that Bomebody should supply Mr. Delderfield with the calming effects of black coffee. But Mr. Delderfield obviously behaved badly, and announced at some stage that he would have no more of it and would go, "taking the staff with him" - meaning thereby Miss Laws and Mr. St. George; and it seems quite clear (though Miss Laws did not, I think, herself so state in chief) that he in words Invited Mr. St. George and the Plaintiff to accompany him out of the room.


In the middle of this unhappy Incident Mr. Brittain - of whom the Judge said that he was a kindly employer, and a well-behaved man, obviously - turned to St. George and the Plaintiff and said "Stay where you are" - as a man might who wished to put an end to disorderly behaviour. Unfortunately, Miss Laws (as also Mr. St. George) followed Mr. Delderfield out of the room.


On the following Monday, when Miss Laws attended the premises of the Defendants she was handed a letter, addressed to her by Mr Campbell, the Secretary, which stated: "It is impossible for the company to overlook your behaviour and actions in leaving the conference last Friday in defiance of the Managing Director's request that you remain"; and as a result of what occurred on the 23rd June, that Monday, between Miss Laws and Mr. Campbell, she left the service of the Defendant company. In this action she sued for damages for wrongful dismissal on the 23rd June; and it is not in doubt that the damages which she is entitled to recover, if her cause of action is well-founded, are 45.


At the trial, the Defendants denied both the dismissal and, if there was dismissal, that it was wrongful. However, they have in this Court accepted the finding that she was dismissed. Indeed, it is the comer-stone of Mr. Stable's case that here there was nothing really that a self-respecting employer could do but to dismiss summarily: for here was an order given - "Stay where you are" - and disobeyed. Mr. Stable has cited authority - of antiquity, but none the less of respectability - to show that disobedience (as he contends) of any order that is lawful entitles the employer to dismiss the servant summarily. The authority to which I have alluded. Turner v. Mason, is reported in 14 Mason and Wels by, page 111. In that case, a domestic servant - quite deliberately, because she had made a request which was...

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1 firm's commentaries
  • Focus on Employment | Labour - November 2010
    • Canada
    • Mondaq Canada
    • 4 November 2010
    ...administration of justice in this area and a different legislative framework may be on the horizon in British Columbia. Footnotes 1 [1959] 2 All E.R. 285 (C.A.) ("Laws v. London") 2 Wiebe v. Central Transport Refrigeration (Man.) Ltd., [1993] M.J. No.86 (Q.B.), var'd on other grounds [1994]......
7 books & journal articles
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Journal No. 2009, December 2009
    • 1 December 2009
    ...Act, such contractual provisions cannot override the relevant provisions of the Employment Act.75 1 Laws v London Chronicle Ltd [1959] 1 WLR 698, [1959] 2 All ER 285. 2 Cowie v Berger International Pte Ltd [1999] 3 SLR 491. 3 See, for instance, Scottish Special Housing Association v Linnen[......
  • Just Cause: The Capital Punishment of Employment Law
    • Canada
    • Irwin Books Archive Special Lectures 2007. Employment Law
    • 2 September 2007
    ...35 Rubel Bronze and Metal Co. and Vos (Re) , [1918] 1 K.B. 315 at 320; Laws v. London Chronicle (Indicator Newspapers), Ltd. , [1959] 2 All E.R. 285 at 288 (C.A.). 36 See F.R. Batt, The Law of Master and Servant , 5th ed. (London: Pitman, 1967) at 82 [Batt (5th ed.)]. 37 (2005), 259 D.L.R. ......
  • Plus ca change... The interpretation of new individual employment rights in the Commonwealth Caribbean
    • Barbados
    • Caribbean Law Review No. 4-2, December 1994
    • 1 December 1994
    ...p.6 of the transcript, referring to Chuston & Co. Ltd. v. Cony [1906] A.C. 122, 129 (P.C.) per Lord James; Laws v. London Chronicle [1959] 2 All E.R. 285, 287 (C.A.) per Lord Evershed M.R. 47 Ryan 6, ref. n. 38 supra. its award of compensation on section 14 of the Ordinance and the question......
  • The Employee Shareholder
    • United Kingdom
    • Sage Maastricht Journal of European and Comparative Law No. 22-1, February 2015
    • 1 February 2015
    ...– namely, an elaboration under legislation of the ambit of obligations and 38 Laws v. London Chronicle (Indicat or Newspapers) Ltd [1959] 1 WLR 698.39 I. Smith and A. Baker, Smith & Wood’s em ployment Law (11th edition, OUP 2 013), p.163.40 At common law, see Harmer v. Corneliu s (1858) 5 ......
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