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BBC v Hearn

[1977] ICR 685

Case summary last updated at 17/02/2020 20:44 by the Oxbridge Notes in-house law team.

Judgement for the case BBC v Hearn

BBC sought an injunction preventing the union from interfering with their broadcast of the 1977 World Cup (which they threatened to do unless BBC stopped broadcasting programmes from SA. CA granted the injunction, holding that since there had been no attempt by the union to renegotiate the terms and conditions of their members' contracts with the B.B.C. but an attempt at coercive interference with the performance of contracts between BBC and SA, there was no “trade dispute”. 
 
Lord Denning MR: He distinguished between a case where the union might ask that its members don’t have to help in the broadcast of SA programmes, and strike when this is refused, and a case where the union just threatens to get its members to stop the broadcast (as here). Only the first is a trade dispute. He says that the action was not done as part of a trade dispute but ‘coercive interference and nothing more.’ This seems unrealistic: Surely a trade dispute, as opposed to political action, should depend on the content of what is being discussed, and not the form that the dispute takes, though the 1972 statute did refer to a trade dispute being over the ‘conditions of employment’

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