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Middlebrook Mushrooms v TGWU

[1993] ICR 612

Case summary last updated at 17/02/2020 20:00 by the Oxbridge Notes in-house law team.

Judgement for the case Middlebrook Mushrooms v TGWU

P had a dispute with its union, D. D gave leaflets to members of the public outside supermarkets that sold P’s produce, urging them to boycott it. P sought an injunction asking for an injunction to prevent D from leafleting, on the grounds that it was trying to interfere with the contractual relations between P and the supermarket. CA refused the injunction on the grounds that the leaflets were directed at members of the public rather than the supermarket, so that any pressure on the supermarket to breach its contract with P would only be indirect. 
Neill LJ: He uses the 4 step test from Thomson to test whether there has been a DIRECT tortious interference with contract (i.e. (1) TP knew of the contract and directly persuaded/procured etc the contract-breaker with the aim of getting it to breach the contract; (2) Dealings by the third party with the contract breaker which to the knowledge of the third party are inconsistent with the contract between the contract breaker and the person wronged; (3) An act by the third party with knowledge of the contract which if done by one of the parties to it would have been a breach of that contract; (4) The imposition by the third party, who has knowledge of the contract, of some physical restraint on one of the parties to the contract so as to make it impossible for him to perform it). NB the test in Thomson mentioned above is the test for indirect interference. There was no evidence that the leaflets had (or would have) any effect on the contract between the supermarket and P, since P’s produce wasn’t separately labelled. Nor were the union actually aware of the contract between P and the supermarket. Indirect interference with contractual relations is not actionable, unless unlawful means are used. 

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