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Co-operative Insurance Soc Ltd v Argyll Stores (Holdings) Ltd

[1998] AC 1

Case summary last updated at 04/01/2020 14:53 by the Oxbridge Notes in-house law team.

Judgement for the case Co-operative Insurance Soc Ltd v Argyll Stores (Holdings) Ltd

 A leased the largest unit in its shopping centre to C for 35 years, with a requirement that C keep the store open during usual office hours. C started to make a loss and stopped operating the unit, stripped it out and ceased trading. As the largest unit and largest attraction of the store it was likely to have a massive impact on the business of the shopping centre. HL denied a claim for specific action. HL refused to accept CA’s claim that damages were inadequate due to difficulty of proving what loss had been caused by A’s departure and denied the relevance of C’s cynical nature. Instead HL said that there was a general rule of not ordering specific performance where it would involve the carrying on of a duty rather than one single act. It also said that it was oppressive to force C to run a business under threat of imprisonment from contempt of court. Thirdly it would require constant supervision which is a waste of resources; Fourthly the contract itself was fairly uncertain so it is hard to tell what C should do (e.g. requirement to maintain a good-quality shop window display); Fifthly it would force C to accept enormous losses. Seems to put the balance too far in favour of the contract breaker. 

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