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Nagle v Feilden

[1966] 2 QB 633 (CA)

Case summary last updated at 17/02/2020 18:04 by the Oxbridge Notes in-house law team.

Judgement for the case Nagle v Feilden

The Jockey Club (nobody argued that this was a union) had a policy of refusing a licence to a woman, even though it was willing to grant licences to women’s employees. P, a female horse trainer, challenged the rule as invalid due to being contrary to public policy. CA said that this was a valid cause of action and couldn’t be struck out, even though there was no contractual relationship and the Jockey Club wasn’t a public authority.  
Lord Denning MR: “The common law of England has for centuries recognised that a man has a right to work at his trade or profession without being unjustly excluded from it. He is not to be shut out from it at the whim of those having the governance of it. If they make a rule which enables them to reject his application arbitrarily or capriciously, not reasonably, that rule is bad. It is against public policy. The courts will not give effect to it.” He says that where a professional body or a trade union operate a closed shop and control the market de facto, so that decisions they make can deprive a person of their liberty to work, the body’s rules are capable of review, which can lead the court to make injunctions or orders (even if damages may be unavailable due to lack of contractual/tortious action). Because such organisations exercise de facto monopolistic powers over the profession, the common law gives the courts power to review them. The other 2 judges agreed.

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